Suggested for eleventh grade, United States History is another outstanding textbook from BJU Press. It begins with the period of exploration and the Reformation and continues through 2017.
It covers United States history from a conservative viewpoint. The role of religion in history is prominent, and the perspective is strongly Protestant. (So much so that those who are not Protestant will probably not be comfortable using it.)
The textbook kit for this course includes the student textbook, the two-volume teacher's edition, the student activities manual, tests, and answer keys for the tests and student activities book. The student textbook and the student activities manual are both available as eTextbooks with an audio option for students who prefer to listen rather than read.
The Student Textbook
The student text is a single large, softbound book with both black-and-white and full-color illustrations in an attractive layout. The course is presented in 27 chapters, with each chapter divided into several sections to provide natural breaks. Review questions at the end of each section help students make sure they’ve grasped important points before moving on.
The basic layout of the textbook has remained the same through the last few editions, although new material and more images have been added. Most new material is at the end to bring it up to date, but some has been added elsewhere, such as a section in the first chapter that discusses the origin of the slave trade to the Americas in west Africa. While most of the text remains the same, a few sections, such as that on native Americans, have been rewritten to some extent. Guiding questions have been added for each section to help focus student attention on key ideas as they read.
Rather than simply presenting information, this textbook looks deeper into philosophies and ideas out of which arise the issues and events of history. Questions in the textbook as well as activities in the companion student activity book often push students beyond superficial answers. Student activity book assignments occasionally require research beyond what is included in the textbook.
One of the strongest features of this course is the excellent, thought-provoking questions. Section Quizzes throughout each chapter have comprehension questions, and Chapter Reviews in the student textbook have four types of questions plus a list of "People, Places, and Things to Remember." Chapter Review questions are presented under the four headings: Making Connections, Developing History Skills, Thinking Critically, and Living as a Christian Citizen. Some questions under Living as a Christian Citizen ask students to think about government and public policy from a Christian worldview. On page 155, one question reads: "Construct what you believe would be an ideal political philosophy, having evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans from Scripture." They even include a question in Chapter 2 asking students to "respond to the argument that denying homosexuals the right to marry denies them fundamental liberties that heterosexuals possess" (p. 37). The textbook clearly takes some very strong positions, even in the way it phrases questions. While students should probably write out their own answers to the Section Quizzes, the Chapter Review questions might be assigned for written responses or discussion, or a combination of both.
The Teacher’s Edition
The teacher's edition comes in two, spiral-bound books, with reproductions of slightly reduced student pages. The teacher's edition has very helpful background notes and information plus answers and suggested activities in the margins. It also includes a few specific activities for homeschool students that wouldn't be practical in a classroom such as a recipe for baking a "Wartime Cake" on page 505, as well as alternative suggestions for implementing activities. The free Homeschool Hub provides homeschooling parents with simple lesson plans that are simpler than those in the teacher’s edition. The Hub also has downloadable charts and maps (already included in the textbook or teacher’s edition) plus some corrections to content in the course books. Curiously, the Wartime Cake recipe is not on the Hub.
I'd like to point out a new feature in the teacher’s edition I find very helpful. Answers to the Chapter Review questions in the student book are in the teacher’s edition, and these answers now include page numbers showing where each topic was covered. This makes it easier to direct students to pages they should review.
Student Activities Book and Tests
The student activities book reinforces learning through a variety of activities including research, writing, charting, and map work. You will need the teacher's edition for the student activities book as an answer key.
The Tests come in a loose-leaf packet and feature various types of questions, such as multiple-choice, matching, map reading, and essay. You need the separate answer key for the tests.
Even though all homeschoolers will not agree with its religious and political perspectives, BJU Press’s United States History course is exemplary in its emphasis on critical thinking and analysis.