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Textbooks for SHP


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#1 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 05 September 2002 - 05:49 PM

Following on from my decision re course change last night, we have opted for American West/Crime and Punishment to start with the (sole) Year Ten History group this term, moving from Modern World History.

Checking amazon and the SHP websites, there doesn't seem to be much critical information on the plusses and minuses of the huge range of texts.

I find the Cambridge 'USA Divided Union' a bit inaccessible for the students on the present course, so maybe their 'American West' may be similar.

I have seen listings of the books by Collins (Green), Heinemann (Willoughby/Godfrey), Hodder (Wichard), John Murray (Martin/Shephard) and Longman (Rees).

Before I get the approval copies, what are your experiences of the above books?
The same goes for the Crime and Punishment books for SHP.

Cheers!
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#2 Stephen Drew

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Posted 05 September 2002 - 06:22 PM

I don't know anything about the Crime books, but American West is a different matter!

My personal favourite is the John Murray 'American West 1840-1895' by Martin and Shephard. I saw Martin talk at a SHP course at the British Library a couple of years ago, and he was excellent. The textbook is very accesible and has wonderful illustrations with really useful text. However some of the sections are perhaps overlong and excessively detailed, but they are definitely interesting.

The Longmans 'American West' by Rees is a third or fourth edition of their original textbook for the course. It has been regularly updated with new sections and some tasks, but remains basically the same format. It has some quite narrative style sections which are well written, but can be overlong for most students.

I have a copy of the Cambridge book 'The American West 1840-1895' by Mellor which we inspected before going for the Martin and Shephard book. It is well presented with a really good set of review spreads at the end of each section, however we did think it was a bit heavy in its main pages.

So from those three, and having taught the course for four years and examined it for three, I would go for the Martin and Shephard from John Murray.

However there are a couple on your list I have never seen so perhaps others can enlighten.
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#3 Stuart

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Posted 05 September 2002 - 06:48 PM

I teach Medicine rather than Crime and Punishment, so can't give you any help there. However, I do teach American West and have used a few different textbooks so can offer a little advice.

The Longman book was the main one we used at my last school. It is reasonably good for most of the topic areas, has some useful sources and some of the activities are decent. However, I would not recommend it for two reasons. First, some of the topics are not dealt with very well. For example, the section on the Plains Wars is boring, contains lots of irrelevant details and has no focus to it. The section on the Mormons is just as bad. Second, the language and detail in many parts of the book makes it inaccessible for lower ability pupils.

The John Murray book is what we use at my current school. It is (in my humble opinion) a superb book, certainly infinitely better than the Longman book. It is well structured, with the topics based around key questions. There are lots of interesting sources and most of the activities are very well thought out. The teacher guide gives lots of further ideas and resources to use, and makes the book more accessible to lower ability pupils. There are a couple of problems with the book that you may find. First, some lower ability pupils may find some of the text a little difficult and there is no foundation version. However, there is much more scope to use the book in a creative way than there is with the Longman one which means that it is far easier to help all pupils access it (expecially if you use some of the ideas and resources in the teachers guide). Second, it is a long book (159 pages compared to Longman which has 121) and I gather from your previous postings that you are going to be just a little bit pushed for time (to say the least!). However, I don't think that this is a particular problem as you can miss some quite hefty chunks of the book out and adapt it to the particular details of your syllabus.

I have also used the Heinemann book, but only the foundation version. In fact, Heinemann are the only company that I know of that do a core and foundation version of an American West textbook (although the other publishers you mention might do - I have not seen them). I imagine this could be a real advantage if you are teaching in mixed ability classes. Whilst I have not seen the Core version I can tell you a little about the Foundation version - I assume the Core is similar just more detailed. I think the Foundation version is an excellent book. It is well structured, very clearly explained and it uses about as simple language as you are going to get in a GCSE textbook (as ever, it will still be inaccessible for some pupils). Also, it is much shorter than the other books (95 pages) which could be a real advantage for you. There are a few problems with this book. First, it lacks some necessary details and does not have enough sources in it. Second, there are not many activities and these activities are not very good. However, the Core version probably does have all the necessary details in and the teachers guide/activity pack makes up for the lack of decent activities because it has some excellent ideas and resources that can be used in conjunction with the textbook.

Overall, the John Murray book is the best but the Heinemann book has many strengths and offers core and foundation versions. You may decide the Heinemann book suits your purposes better. The Longman book is fine (and is the one I've used most), but is not in the same league. However, this is just my opinion obviously. I should also point out that I am biased in favour of John Murray - I think their SHP books just suit my style, even going back as far as the Societies in Change/Contrasts and Connections etc series.

Hope this helps a little.

Stuart

#4 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 05 September 2002 - 07:43 PM

Inavluable advice there, thanks heaps. I have just ordered inspection copies of the John Murray on Crime, American West and Northern Ireland, Heinemann core/found West, and Longman Crime and West.

I have an old American West SHP revision book, as well as sets of two different KS3 Native Americans texts to get me going until we get the full set of the chosen books.

Medicine seems to be a lot more popular than Crime - is there any particular reason for this? I also saw one school site who study Crime as a devt study, yet still do a coursework on Jack the Ripper. I thought this would be duplication, no?http://www.hewett.norfolk.sch.uk/CURRIC/history/toms%20web%20stuff/NMU%20crime_and_punishment1.htm

I'll get on the blower to the Edexcel adviser next asap.

Thanks again for the professional book reviews - you should consider it as a moonlighting career!

Do the teachers packs to any of them contain a rudimentary SoW?
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