Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review of PAC Biology and American History

I don’t know how I missed this resource in my earlier years, but I did. PAC (Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum) has been developing curriculum designed to motivate under-performing and under-challenged high school students since 1993. According to their Web site, “In 1996, PACS was recognized in USA Today newspaper among the nation's 58 most effective programs for recovering at-risk teens.”

I was recently provided samples of Biology (Principles, Theories & Precepts of Biology) and American History (The People, Places and Principles of America) to review. I am impressed with these products and highly recommend that you look them over.

The Biology curriculum consists of six chapters of texts and six companion student activity books, equivalent to one high school biology credit. A second course, Precepts of Anatomy and Physiology, can be added for a second Biology credit.

There is no lab work included with the curriculum; however, the PAC Web site has a list of companies that sell lab equipment. I recommend purchasing lab equipment and using it along with the textbook.

American History is available in a one- or two-year course of study, each year worth one credit in American History. The first year covers Discovery into the Civil War; the second year continues through President George W. Bush.

You will need the teacher’s resource kit for answers to chapter quizzes, as well as for additional tests and answers for both these courses.

Here’s what I like about this curriculum:

The text is interesting and easy-to-understand, but challenging at the same time. Even though the textbooks are black and white, I found myself wanting to read more because of the way in which they are written. Vocabulary is introduced, as needed, and is defined to help students understand the concepts.

The textbooks are designed to inspire kids to think for themselves. Facts are presenting for both sides of many hot-button issues, giving students the information needed to make up their own mind and then defend it. Although both sides of the issues are presented, the reading material supports traditional parental values, along with the reasons why these values are important. This is not a “Christian” curriculum, but it is based on Christian values.

All curriculum publishers pick and choose what they cover in their textbooks. As you know, you can’t possibly cover it all, so you are limited to what the publisher of your curriculum decides to incorporate. I believe the topics included in these two courses by PAC are essential and have no problem recommending them.

 Problems of the curriculum and how to overcome them:

The course is set up so that the student independently reads each lesson and then completes the activities, which include multiple choices, fill in the blanks, and labeling diagrams. Unfortunately, I have learned from experience with my own daughter that those kids who are excellent readers can learn to quickly skim the material presented and locate the answers without actually learning what they need to know. Other students, like my son who wasn’t a fast reader, quickly become overwhelmed with the amount of reading required.

Normally, I don’t recommend this type of teaching method because of these problems. However, I believe that the information presented in this curriculum is so outstanding that I would find a way to use it that works for your kids. If your children tend to be like mine, my recommendation would be to read the information together as a family and then work through the activities together. This will take more time on your part, but it will be worth it, both for you and your child.  You’ll both learn something worth while.

Homeschoolers can purchase single textbooks with answers, as well as single chapters within a course. They also offer the text portions on CD-ROM and PDF format at a discounted price.

 • Biology - full course kit includes texts, activities, and teacher resource kit: $111.35
 • American History Year 1 full course kit: $120.30; Two year: $189.86

For more information, see the PAC Web site

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