We were visiting the 8th floor of the Veterans Medical Center in Portland, Oregon this week. The view overlooks the Columbia River. I was thinking of Meriwether Lewis, and the first time he saw this ribbon.
I kept looking at all of the buildings and growth, with the combination of open space, full of trees. A gentleman walked by and mentioned that he always wishes he had his pole when he visits the center. A misty eyed far off look was on his face.
Had my boys been there, and I had time, I’d love to have asked him to continue his thoughts. It is a habit that we get into while we are out and about, but a direct opportunity I look for when we are in ‘unit study mode’. Which, especially at the high school level – is 24/7.
We have enjoyed a pattern of integrating social studies, language arts, character education, math, science, literature and history into our every day. At this stage, it is second nature.
If you are new to the idea of unit studies – YWAM Publishing has made it simple for you with their Digital Unit Study.
They are designed for anyone – Small Group, Classroom, or Homeschool.
What I lacked when the boys were younger – were questions. How to read a living book and be intentional with their thoughts and learning?
There are chapter questions in the digital studies that follow a basic pattern: Vocabulary, Factual, Why, and What do you think. For example:
- What does traverse mean (page 29)? Use this word in a sentence.
- What position did Thomas Jefferson offer Meriwether?
- Meriwether said he was “delighted with the soldier’s life” (page 32). Why was he delighted with it?
- Why do you think President Jefferson nominated a Frenchman to be the first person to traverse the American continent? Do you think this was a wise decision? Explain your answer
There are essay questions later in the book, I liked the following idea:
Thomas Jefferson told Meriwether Lewis that he had “undaunted courage.” What did he mean by this? Use three examples from the book to illustrate times when Meriwether showed this kind of courage.
The guides are for any age. The book was delightful for me and for my ninth grader. I think the actual ‘reading level’ is a bit low, maybe upper elementary to middle school. However, the content is relevant – it’s good to read about something you don’t know. The Digital Unit Study guide gave areas where this study would enhance their overall academic learning.
They give detailed ideas for Essay Questions, Creative Writing Prompts, Hands On Projects, Audio Visual Projects, Arts and Crafts, Social studies, Geography, and Timelines.
For this true story, we focused on learning about the man, Meriwether Lewis. I was stationed in Astoria and lived there the first year we were married. The boys have driven through a few times and as Oregonians, we are quite familiar with the story of Lewis and Clark. But this isn’t a story about ‘Lewis and Clark’ it is an American Biography of Meriwether himself.
We chunked the 18 chapters into two to be read 2-3 times a week. Jon isn’t the type to devour books, so he needs a reading plan. He kept saying that he didn’t understand what was going on in the book couldn’t figure out what it was about and what was going on. He had a hard time reading it – and I had to force him to continue. I was perplexed.
Then I read the book – and figured it out. The biography goes back and forth with his adult life and childhood. He moves to Georgia to homestead land with his new step father and family, and then moves back to his home and starts work with Thomas Jefferson.
We expected the book to focus on one area of his life, and it threw Jon off that it flipped back and forth, a total biography of his life, birth to death. Once we were able to put the events in context, and explain what the authors were doing – the reading went much more smoothly. I really enjoyed reading ‘the rest of the story’ as Paul Harvey would say.
This was our experience all three times we have read the YWAM books. There bight be a historical person famous for one particular project or act of courage, but who was his family? How was he raised? Who were his neighbors and friends? Meriwether Lewis we set up for this expedition. His mother taught him about the outdoors and plants as medicine, and he was next door neighbors to Thomas Jefferson. He explored the woods as a boy. Hearing all of the details that led up to the 8,000 mile trip was incredible to see all that God had put in this man’s life to help him succeed. The part of the story that really saddened me was his early death. I wasn’t aware that he did not make it to 40, and the book leaves questions regarding how he died.
So, even in high school, especially with your elementary and middle school homeschool students, co-ops and classes – consider the YWAM Publishing resources for your next adventure. You won’t be disappointed.
To the right of the last tall building on the right, is a white triangle.
That is Mt. Hood.
My lil phone camera apologizes. My eyes could see it clear and HUGE.
We also learned that the river was named after a man’s boat – the Columbia.
Which, made me feel ignorant, as there is the Columbia on display
at the the mouth of the river in Astoria. Sheepish Grin.
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Technical Help: I was frustrated with the Digital Unit Study and worked with YWAM Publishing for a solution. My download would not work. They sent me a physical DVD to help to see if the file would work. It didn’t. I finally figured it out this past week:
The Start Here HTML file is associated to Notepad on both of my computers. This may be how mine are, or I may have associated that because I work with code a lot. If you right click on Start Here and Open With Chrome or your favorite browser, then you be led to this screen: