As homeschoolers with a high school student, we were very interested in reviewing this American Government curriculum. A
Noble Experiment is a conservative, Biblical 16-week, semester-long course in video and workbook form. I received five DVDs, a teacher CD, and a consumable Student Activity Book. This course is "designed around the national civics standards," and the videos "cover all the major topics in the National Standards for Civics and Government at the high school level." It can be used individually by homeschool students or in a homeschool co-op setting.
The course has 48 lessons divided into nine units: Foundational Principles, Two Types of Government, American Political Heritage, Articles of Confederation, The Constitutional Convention, The Constitution, The World Order and U. S. Government, Citizenship, and State and Local Governments. I found it a little unclear which lessons belonged to which unit. I wish that had been clearly spelled out on the course outline pages.
Twenty-four of the lessons utilize video lectures that run approximately six to 30 minutes. This technology is only part of the teaching. The student workbook contains 28 different primary source documents, such as Magna Charta excerpts, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Monroe Doctrine. For almost every lesson there are activity sheets covering these documents and the video lessons consisting of short-answer, fill in the blank, and completing charts.
The organization and ease of use stand out. The student course syllabus in the front of the student activity book lays out a specific plan for the 48t lessons. A normal high school student would certainly be capable of taking responsibility for this class. The pages in the workbook come three-hole-punched and perforated to facilitate good organization and record-keeping. It is an attractive book as well, with an old fashioned cursive font for lesson and document titles and parchment-like backgrounds for the primary source documents.
Two special projects make up the last 2 1/2 weeks of the course: watching the classic film Mr.
Smith Goes to Washington, with lots of interesting activities (in the appendix), and a state/local government research project. Both of these look like they would be fun as well as worthwhile.
There are nine quizzes, a test after every one or two units which covers those units, and a two-part final exam. These are in the back of the student book. The answers to all of these and answers to the student activity worksheets are found on the Teacher Resource CD. This CD also has the complete scripts for all video lessons with bolded key points and Web links. These transcripts would be useful for both the student and the teacher to review. Two other thoughtful inclusions are a grading rubric page and a course description page for your child's high school transcript.
My 15-year-old son and I watched two of the video lessons, Lesson 4 and Lesson 17. Although they were touted to be more like "conversations than lectures," we found them a bit dry, although Mr. Spickler does inject his quirky sense of humor from time to time. Although there are some subscripts, my son and I thought the video lessons could be improved with the inclusion of some PowerPoint slides or the use of a white board to enumerate some important points. For example, Lesson 17, which explains what happens to a bill, would lend itself beautifully to a flowchart. Adding these sorts of visuals would provide three benefits: 1) it would add more variety for the viewer, 2) it would make it easier to explain some material, and 3) it would help the visual learner.
Another couple of notes on the videos: there are two camera views of Mr. Spickler during his lectures; we found it distracting to keep switching back and forth. We prefer the wider view that includes all of the background. We also wish the sound quality had been better.
I'm looking forward to using this with our high schooler this coming fall. I think it will be an excellent way to fulfill his U. S. Government requirement.