Monday, March 16, 2015

Review of Critical Thinking Co.'s World History Detective

Critical Thinking Company Review

The Critical Thinking Co. is one of those curriculum companies that you are sure to know about once you've been homeschooling for, oh, about a month or so! Their distinctive logo and their unique products cause them to standout in bookstores and online. Having homeschooled for more than seven years, I thought that I was familiar with most of The Critical Thinking Co.'s products, but it turns out that I was wrong! World History Detective Book 1 was new to me! It also happens to be one of my favorites yet!

Critical Thinking Company Review
World History Detective, Book One is recommended for Grades 6-12+, retails for $34.99, and has 362 pages (which includes the answers). There are 78 total exercises. Each exercise follows a similar format. First, students read a selection of about 8-10 short paragraphs, followed by nine multiple choice questions and one written response question. In many, although not all, cases, the final exercise is a graphic organizer exercise. The reading selections include maps and timelines. All of the topics in this book are related to Ancient or Medieval Civilizations. Some of those studied include Ancient Greece and Rome, India, China, Early Europe, Medieval Japan, India, Korea, and Southeast Asia, and the Maya, Aztecs, and Inca. In other words, there is a great diversity of cultures and geography represented here!

On the face of it, the material would seem kind of simple, right? Read a selection and answer some multiple choice questions with one essay. So very, very wrong. After all, it's Critical Thinking Co.! The questions actually require some pretty intense consideration by the student, which is why I love them. Each of the sentences is numbered and all of the paragraphs are designated by letters. In this way, the questions can ask you to identify the sentence/paragraph in which you found the support for your answer. Some questions ask about fact vs. opinion. Some ask students to make inferences. These multiple choice questions are far more than your typical such questions. They require actual thought. In fact, they required a lot of thought from my 11 year-old 6th grader, which I loved (more on that in a minute).

The short answer question (a paragraph or so) asks students to do a variety of different things. Sometimes they have to answer a fairly typical question (like what kind of contribution a civilization made to history). Sometimes they have to evaluate the accuracy of a given statement. The graphic organizers vary, too (concept maps, Venn diagrams, etc.). 

Nicholas (11) and World History Detective

Nicholas was not super-enthusiastic about this product when he first saw it...until he realized what the topic was. Then, I am happy to report, he was thrilled. It has been our habit to do an exercise every week. On Monday, he reads the selection and does the multiple choice questions, on Tuesday he answers the written portion of the chapter, and on Thursday he does the graphic organizer. On Friday we discuss the entire week's work. So far, it's working great! I will say that he has had some moments of frustration because this work is not easy. He has had the most trouble with the written portion because he is at the very low end of the range for this material, and some of the questions asked are a bit above his level. We talk through them, though, and I am very lenient with how I evaluate his answers. This is not his writing program, after all, so I am much more interested in his thoughts and whether he can support his ideas with the text.

Overall, I love this product. It is such a great way to engage someone like my son who really likes workbook work, but who needs something more than most workbooks can offer. Something that you may not know about The Critical Thinking Co. is their wonderful copyright policy. They will allow you to make up to 35 copies of each page of the book per year for your home or classroom! That is the most generous policy of any company I have ever heard of! It's more than enough for my little homeschool - I will definitely be using this one with my other kids. Therese (13) wants to do it just for fun. I will have the twins (10) do it in a couple of years.

The Critical Thinking Co. very generously gave the Crew many products to review, so to see the Crew's opinions on all of them, be sure to click the banner below.

Critical Thinking Company Review

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