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Setting Up for U.S. History I

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From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for U.S. History I

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for high school U.S. History I (USI). My first step is to read through USI’s Introduction/Overview, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and understand what my guide covers. Each high school credit includes its own specific course description, required resources, course materials, and suggested grading. So, taking time to read through these is time well spent.

Setting Up the Front of My U.S. History I Binder

First, I slide the preprinted full color U.S History I Journal cover in the front of my 1  1/2 inch 3-ring binder. Second, I print the Overview of the guide off the Internet (click here). I use the Table of Contents as my attendance record, noting the dates we completed each unit (i.e. Unit 1:  Sept. 2-6, 2019). Likewise, I include the Earning Credits and Possible Grading Scale in my binder to show how credit was earned.  Third, I print the first week of plans (click here), which is a nice overview. Some states require a completed portfolio for meeting with a principal or umbrella school. The Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview for this. (Carrie gives permission for the Introduction and First Week of Plans to be printed or copied for portfolio compilation. However, any other photocopies or retyping of plans would be a copyright infringement.)

Setting Up the Rest of My U.S. History I Binder

I continue setting up the rest of my U.S. History I binder. Behind the First Week of Plans, I place USI’s notebook pages inside clear page protectors. Throughout the homeschool year, my student takes out each notebook page he is using for the week. Then, when he is done with each page, he simply puts it back in a page protector for safe keeping. This makes a beautiful keepsake of our year of spent doing U.S. History I!

Preparing for the Living Library Extra Credit Work

If my student is doing the U.S. History I Living Library 10% extra credit option (which is an option I personally love for my children to do), from the USI Appendix, I photocopy the “Double-Entry Journal Assignment” sheet. I have my student glue it in the front of a bound and lined composition book of his choice. This way, he can refer to the example to know the format expected for his journal assignments. I simply keep the notebook with his completed double-entry journal assignments on hand as a record of his extra credit work for the year.

Setting Up the Book of Centuries’ Binder

For the Book of Centuries (BOC), the USI Introduction suggests using a 1 inch 3-ring binder. This already comes preprinted and 3-hole punched.  So, I just slide the preprinted full color BOC Notebook cover in the front of my binder. Then, I place the 3-hole punched BOC pages in the binder. (If you used World Geography or World History the years before, you’ve already done this step). Then, I add the extra pages needed for the 17th-19th A.D. Centuries. As many different BOC pages are used at a time and there is gluing involved, I don’t put these in clear page protectors.  Next, following the “Course Materials” section in the USI Introduction, I print the History Through the Ages: U.S. History I Timeline Figures from the Timeline Figures CD. I put these in a pile in order and staple the top left corner to keep them together. Last, I slide the stapled together timeline pages inside the front of my BOC binder’s pocket.

A Few Other Noteworthy Things About Setting Up for the U.S History I Course

Throughout the year, my student follows the USI daily plans to make photocopies for U.S. History Map Activities and from Great Documents from U.S. History. I help with making these copies the first time they come up in the plans. Then, my student follows the directions to do this on his own. We file his completed maps in the back of his U.S History I journal. I also let my student know he will need a DVD player for The American Testimony DVD Set. He will also need about thirty-seven (I like a few extra) 3″ x 5″ index cards for the Day 3 Talking Points assignments.  Likewise, he will need a yellow highlighter and a pink or green highlighter (or small yellow and pink or green sticky notes) for his key word narrations.

Setting Up for the Government/Civics Course in U.S History I

For the Government/Civics Course, U.S. History I’s Introduction suggests using a 1 inch 3-ring binder. Following the directions in U.S. History I’s Introduction, I print the video transcripts, answer keys for quizzes/tests, and the “Grade Book” on p. xxi-xxii from the A Noble Experiment: Teacher Resource CD. I also use a folder to hold any loose pages. Next, I decide whether to remove the quiz and test pages from the back of the A Noble Experiment: Student Activity Book. Or, I just leave them intact and remove them as needed throughout the year. Finally, I make sure to have a DVD player on hand for my student to watch the A Noble Experiment DVD lessons, as well as the DVD Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (which can be rented when it is assigned in Lesson 41 of A Noble Experiment).

Getting Ready for Bible

For Bible, students keep a prayer journal. Any bound book with lined pages can be used. We found some beautiful options at our local Christian bookstore! Next, I photocopy “Preparing Your Heart for Prayer” from the Appendix of the U.S. History I guide. I have my student fold this and put it inside his Prayer Journal cover to highlight as he uses it for his daily Bible Quiet Time. Students also need their own Bible  to look up Scriptures each day. So, enjoy choosing whichever Bible you and your student would like best. Likewise, make sure your student has a CD player handy to listen to When Morning Guilds the Skies. Finally, we choose a Common Place Book. Any keepsake-like bound, composition book with lines to copy memorable passages throughout the high school years can be chosen. Walmart  had many lovely, inexpensive options!

Getting Ready for English III

For English III, I use either 3 bound and lined composition books (1 for English Grammar, 1 for Literature, and 1 for Composition), OR I use 1 large bound and lined composition book with 3 section dividers (1 for English Grammar, 1 for Literature, and 1 for Composition). If my student is still completing his dictation levels, I use 4 composition books, OR 1  large book with 4 section dividers. I label this “English III.” Likewise, I make photocopies (one for each novel and a few extras to have on hand) of the “Literary Synthesis Sheet” from USI’s Appendix.  Then, I photocopy a handful of the “Word and Idea Helper” sheets from the Appendix as well. I 3-hole punch all of these and keep them in my student’s binder, or put them in a folder if I didn’t choose to use a binder. The Common Place Book already mentioned in the above Bible section is also used for English III.

Getting Ready for Constitutional Literacy, Spanish II, Chemistry, and Math

For Constitutional Literacy, I get 1 bound and lined composition book for my student to record his “Probe” research question responses. I print the Constitutional Literacy Answer Key to Workbook Questions, 3-hole punch them, and put them in a 1/2 inch three-ring binder. We plan to have a DVD player handy for my student to watch the Constitutional Literacy DVD lessons. For Spanish II, I plan for my student to listen and practice with assigned Spanish CD tracks as scheduled in the Spanish II: Student Books. Likewise, I use the Spanish II: Teacher’s Guide “Audio Scripts” section to help my student write the assigned audio CD number and Track number on the blank next to each CD icon in each unit of each Student book. I might do this as it comes up in the plans, or all at the beginning of the year, whichever I prefer.

For Chemistry, I get a bound and lined composition book for my student and label it “Chemistry.” Next, if I am dong the lab, I gather all needed “Experiment Supplies” noted on p. v-ix of Discovering Design with Chemistry. If I am choosing to give the chapter tests, I copy each chapter test from the Answer Key and Tests for Discovering Design with Chemistry. I place these in a folder. For Math: Algebra II, I gather whatever special materials are noted in the Algebra II course I chose. Or, if my student is doing Geometry instead, I refer to the World History Geometry course materials section to gather materials.

Thoughts on Record Keeping

For high school, I keep my student’s completed notebooks, binders, and workbooks. I put these all in order on a shelf each year, along with the checked off Heart of Dakota guide itself. Together these create a detailed record of the work that has been done to earn credit. Using www.transcriptmaker.com, I create my student’s transcript. I also keep on file any required paperwork for my state, such as approved homeschool exemption forms and completed standardized test results. Each state can vary slightly in requirements for homeschooling, so be sure to check out your own state’s requirements at www.hslda.com.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the U.S. History I Guide

Next, I label sticky tabs to mark places in my guide. I label the first tab “DAILY PLANS,” placing it on Unit 1, Day 1. If you are going to do things more as they come up in the plans, rather than how I’ve previously described setting up for U.S. History I, then you would also want to make sticky tabs for “LITERARY SYNTHESIS,” “WORD AND IDEA HELPER SHEET,” and “DICTATION,” placing them in the WH guide’s Appendix. One final thing I liked to do is make a photocopy of the Narration Tips, Written Narration Tips, and Written Narration Skills.  Carrie does give permission to photocopy these. I keep these lists for me and for my student to reference throughout the year. However, you can just put another tab in USI’s Appendix for “NARRATION TIPS,” if you’d rather.

Shopping for Supplies

Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies, and many options are suggested. However, to get ready to begin USI, I just stock up on usual art supplies – like colored pencils, thick and thin markers, a few permanent markers and high-lighters, glue (sticks and liquid), scissors, construction paper, tape (masking and clear), a ruler, a yardstick, sticky notes/tabs, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards and page protectors. Finally, a flashlight, paperclips, marker board with dry erase markers, and q-tips/toothpicks are also nice to have on hand.

Sorting Resources into “Things We Need Now” and “Things We Need Later” Bins or Totes

One of the last things I do is get two canvas bins.  I use one for ‘things we need now’ and the other for ‘things we need later.’ As I read through each box of my first week of U.S. History I’s plans, I put each needed resource in the bin  for ‘things we need now.’ I put the remaining items in the bin for ‘things we need later.’ Throughout the year as we finish using resources, I put them in the back of the ‘things we need later’ bin, and I move the next books or resources we need into the ‘things we need now’ bin or tub. This way, my ‘things we need now’ bin only contains what we need for each week. Another benefit is the ‘things we need now’ are always mobile! Likewise, I put many art supplies in a tool turnabout, so these are mobile too!

In Christ,


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