That's right - the ink is barely dry on last year's report cards and I've already started lesson planning for next year. Some people may call me crazy as they use their summer days to unwind. Oh, I'm sure I'll get there, too. But, in some ways, lesson planning for the next year is rejuvenating for me. There's something about putting the past year to rest with whatever goals were hit - or missed - and looking forward to the start something new.
Well, some things are more exciting to plan than others and, at the moment, I'm planning the history course I'll be doing with my 5th & 8th grade daughters together. We're using TruthQuest History: Renaissance, Reformation, & Exploration- we tried it a little last year, but this will be the first time we use it consistently.
For those who are not familiar with TruthQuest, it's a literature approach (like Beautiful Feet), but with lists of many books to choose from rather than specific must-use titles. My planning has so far consisted of browsing our local library's database and marking the titles that I can reserve. Our library is part of a whole system of Central Coast libraries, so even if our local branch doesn't have a certain book, you can have it sent from one of the linked libraries for only $1.00 . This makes doing a literature approach to history convenient (I can reserve from my home computer) and affordable (no giant book packages to purchase).
In the past, we've mostly done history in the form of unit studies, and this has been enjoyable (still have the mummified chicken from the Ancient Egypt study several years ago). But, as my kids have gotten older, I've found myself pulled toward an approach that involved more in-depth information.
In my preparations, I've really come to understand how "living" books make history a MUCH richer learning experience!! I had always "heard" that it would be that way, but I'd never actually experienced it. In my own school years, I had been exposed to history through textbooks - names dates, and dry accounts of historical facts (yawn!). I guess that's what is so exciting about planning next year's history - reading more personal stories with detailed accounts of their triumphs and struggles provides a more human connection to the past. Just like one can relate emotionally to characters in a novel, the reader gets the time and detail necessary to relive the moment right along with the King, rebel, peasant, explorer...
So, what does any of this have to do with the Spanish Inquisition? Well, just the other day, when I took my 3 yo to the library (her favorite place to go), I found one of the books that was here at our local branch. So, I slipped the copy of Life During the Spanish Inquisition in among my daughters stack of picture and board books. Since it was 83 pages long, I figured I'd pinpoint certain historical highlights to cover. But, as I started reading the first chapter, I was completely drawn into the details and personal stories - I was riveted and ended up reading the entire book that day! In the end, I determined that there was very little that I would leave out about it's development and implementation, although I don't think I'll read about ALL of the tortures (pretty gruesome)! It was then that I realized what a treasure living books are. In the end, I'll be setting aside about 8 days to get through the book with, hopefully, inspired discussions after each reading.
Well, that's enough for now. Time to layout my lesson topics for the year and see what I can fit into one year!