Jul 132013

American Government Book Choices and OTHER American Government Curriculum Choices for Homeschooling

For a complete high school curriculum in American Government, Thinkwell’s American Government course is a good choice. It is taught through teaching videos on the computer and is much better than even an American Government textbook online!

Thinkwell’s computer-based course includes teaching videos, an American Government Book in the form of a workbook, and is an at-your-own-pace course. This program is among the most ideal for a student who needs extra time and is an audio-visual type of learner. Thinkwell also offers an AP version of their American Government course online if your student is an advanced learner.

Whether your child is accelerated or needs to take his time, your child can work through the lessons and has a calendar year from the date of activation to complete the American Government course. The course also provides immediate feedback for quizzes and exams, so your child will know immediately if he understands the material.

There is no “resetting” of the course if your child is failing. Therefore, you would want to be sure your child is capable of understanding the material before launching into the course. 😉

On the less serious side, but entertaining, engaging, and a FAVORITE of high school students, Standard Deviants American Government is among the easiest curriculum choices. Since teens love the Standard Deviants and find them entertaining, you can avoid battles over learning by choosing these DVDs. While this is not a formal American Government course, as long as your child learns and understands the concepts, that’s what counts. 😉

If you are a Christian, you may like the Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS) Civics course, which is the same as American Government. This course is also a work-at-your-own pace, computer-based program.  The nice thing about this program is as a parent-administrator, you can re-set lessons to allow your student to re-do the lesson if he fails it the first time.  Although we didn’t use SOS for American Government, we did use SOS for other subjects. We always took the “mastery” based approach towards lessons so if my boys made a failing grade, I reset the unit and they re-did the lesson.  Given that learning was the objective, if they hadn’t learned it, they needed to go back and learn.  See the full info below:

Switched-On Schoolhouse Civics By Alpha Omega Publications – Follow your child’s interests, supplement your standard program, and dig deeper into a specific area of study with Switched-On Schoolhouse Electives. With a variety of subjects and grades available, SOS elective students will enjoy the change of pace and the chance to learn more about topics they’re interested in.Your high school students will be voting soon; equip them with a better understanding of the American government, as well as their roles and responsibilities as an American citizen with this SOS Civics elective. Students will learn about the American government; state and local government; worldwide politics; and citizenship responsibility. Includes quizzes and tests.This is a single-semester course. Grades 7-12.

Switched-On Schoolhouse Provides:

  • Quiz & Test Answers: go directly to lessons where material was presented to students.
  • Quiz & Test Scores: students can now see scores immediately.
  • Reusable custom assignments: create one assignment and use in multiple units.
  • Improved lesson plans that display scores and assignments that need grading.
  • “Due Today” icon for students.
  • Reading Log widget and ability to filter by dates.
  • Print a yearly school calendar.
  • New attendance tracker widget.
  • New themes and quarterly updates for multimedia items.

Among the two most popular American Government curriculum offerings are Notgrass American Government (and Economics) as well as Magruder’s American Government. Both of these programs are book-based programs, but they are more engaging than your standard, dry American Government textbook online or in hand. 😉 Both of these programs get great reviews from homeschoolers, and they come highly recommended. We used the Notgrass Literature series and liked them a lot.

Of course, you can find many traditional, secular American Government textbooks from various publishers.  Some of the American Government courses with online lesson access codes.  My boys both took courses with the Aplia online lessons.  One took American Government and Politics Today through Georgia Perimeter College Online.  The other took a course through Marshall Univerisity’s Online College Classes for High School Students program.  Both of my boys liked the courses pretty well and did well using the online lessons and learning format.   When taking the courses through a University, they are NOT at the student’s own pace, and they are taught in a semester rather than over the course of a traditional school year.

As another alternative,  Justice By The People is an interactive curriculum that needs at least two students to complete. A complimentary copy of this program was sent to me for review.   Justice By The People is more suitable for students with kinesthetic learning styles or any student that’d prefer to learn by doing rather than reading..   Although the description says it’s for up to 8th or 9th grade (depending upon which description you read), all high school students I’ve known who’ve done this program seem to enjoy it.

The sales lingo: “The jury has reached a verdict! Justice by the People is a powerful new way to build your students’ language arts skills and understanding of civics. This national standards–based program, created by the Foundation of the American Board of Trial Advocates and Scholastic Inc., underscores the importance of the Sixth and Seventh Amendments to students in grades 5–8. ”

The Description: “This interactive curriculum has been developed to teach students about one of their most important rights as citizens, trial by jury. Knowledge about this right is critical since most of today’s students will be called to serve on juries at some point in their lives. The curriculum’s goal is to help students understand the history and value of their constitutional right to trial by jury. The week-long curriculum, for use in grades 5-9, contains a teacher’s guide with complete lesson plans, a mock trial on videotape, and a CD-ROM trial simulation game. Each interactive lesson in the curriculum challenges students to apply critical thinking and decision-making skills as they experience and explore the roles of attorneys, judges, and jurors in the U.S. justice system. The curriculum begins with five classroom lessons which involve students in such varied hands-on activities as a group decision-making game developed by NASA, a trial by ordeal, a trial by combat, and a video trial of “Gold E. Locks and the Three Bears.” Each lesson ends with an individual assignment designed to reinforce what students have learned and to assist teachers in assessing students’ understanding of key concepts. The culminating activity in the curriculum is a multimedia computer game called “Make Your Case” in which students match wits as opposing attorneys in a simulated movie-like trial.”