How to prepare for the CSET

Discussion in 'Multiple Subject Tests' started by jmgs2, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. jmgs2

    jmgs2 Rookie

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    To those who've taken the CSET recently, what method and sources of review did you rely on most? Books, classes? If you used books, could you recommend what books helped you most to study each subject/domain? I'm really getting overwhelmed (and paralyzed with fear) with the broad scope of what I need to study.

    Also, how much time did you guys give yourselves to prepare for the CSET? A month, two ... or more? Not sure if I'm giving myself enough time if I try for a subtest (or two) this September.

    Thanks.
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    How to prepare depends partly on your background and partly on your own learning style (among other factors). Which subtest are you contemplating committing first, and where are you already with respect to it?
     
  4. jmgs2

    jmgs2 Rookie

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    I'm leaning towards taking the subtests II and III first. Right now, I'm basing this decision on how my review tests for the CBEST are going (I'm taking the CBEST on 8/12). I'm doing better in the math area than in the reading comprehension. Though I realize there are more areas involved with the CSET, my feeling right now is that I'll need more time preparing for subtest I (with history, literature, liguistics, et al). But that's right now, tomorrow I may feel the complete opposite ...
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Are you in a credential program, or applying to one? How are you generally as a test taker? How are you preparing for CBEST?
     
  6. jmgs2

    jmgs2 Rookie

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    I'll be applying for one (hopefully, I'll pass everything and start next spring). I'm studying on my own with the CBEST (Cracking the CBEST, CliffsTestPrep) and confident with where I am. I used to be okay as a test taker but, then again, the last school test I took was ages ago. And like I said earlier, I'm just getting overwhelmed with the broadness of the subject matters involved.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Cracking the CBEST is pretty good, and the math's reasonably current (unless Cliffs has been updated, it doesn't have test score interpretation, and yes, that's on CBEST). For sample essays that accurately reflect the test, though, best bet is the official CBEST Web site, http://www.cbest.nesinc.com: the passing essays there are reliably shorter than the ones in most of the books.

    You should see a fair amount of overlap as far as the skills are concerned from CBEST math to CSET math; the big difference is that CSET math will ask you to apply the skills in ways you weren't expecting. "Used to be okay" sounds pretty promising.

    Regard the breadth of the test not as an obstacle but as an opportunity: to pass this thing, you need know not everything, but only about 2/3 of everything, which is a very different proposition. (The passing scaled score per subtest for CSET is 220 on a scale from 100 to 300.)

    If you leaf through prior threads and posts on CSET, you'll find more information about scoring and approaches and study materials. And if you've got questions about content, you can always post 'em here.

    Prep classes can work well, too. National University runs live classes in various areas and an online class; San Diego State has a couple of classes, one through Extended Studies and one not (see http://edweb.sdsu.edu/ceac/home.htm); many other CSUs have classes run by the people behind the Cliffs CSET book, or homegrown classes; and assorted county offices of education and districts have classes, too.
     
  8. Kelster

    Kelster Comrade

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    Hi jmgs2,

    The sources I used in prepping for the recent CSET were Beating the CSET for the first section, only problem with that book is that it gives you a whole lot of information and you have to decide what of it you want. I also used the Cliff notes and REA study guides. They both have there advantages and disadvantages

    I thought that the REA was good for history and the Cliff notes book had a really good math section. I found that it was useful to use a variety of resourses. I also met with two tutors one to work on my CR's for history and the other to work on my CR's for math/science. Oh and of course, I can not forget the many late night spent on here in the study group answering questions posed by TG......what a huge help that was.

    Good luck with your prepping.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Interesting, Kelster, that you like REA for history: I know people who can't stand REA for history. Which just goes to show that there's no one right way to prep.

    So, jmgs2, you're contemplating Subtest II. Where, roughly, are you located?
     
  10. mathstudent

    mathstudent Rookie

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    Are you doing the CSET single subject in math or multiple subject?? National Offers a course which costs $195 and the prepare you for subtest one. Much like you I am trying to figure out how to best study for this exam also and ran across this if you are interested in the details let me know.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The references to reading AND history AND math suggest CSET-MS, not CSET Math. National offers prep classes in both, and an online prep in CSET-MS.
     
  12. jmgs2

    jmgs2 Rookie

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    TG, I'm in the west LA area.

    Mathstudent, I did inquire with National and they told me the only class they have is the $275 for all three subtests. In fact, I asked if they offered classes by the subtest, they told me that I could attend the subtest review I only wanted but I'd still have to pay the full $275. I'd appreciate getting the details of the $195 class you mentioned. Is this class for a CSET-Single subject? The $275 class is for CSET-MS. If I remember correctly, the person I talked to at National mentioned that their CSET-MS class is handled by someone who works (or worked) on the CSET itself and provides a "fairly thick" compilation of notes to review.

    Thanks Kelster, I'll look up REA. Right now, I'm just borrowing books like crazy from the library and sort of picking out which may be helpful or not.
     
  13. oldsoccerlady

    oldsoccerlady Rookie

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    I'll be taking the CSET in September as well - subtests I and III.

    I recently took the subtest II CSET. I used many resources: Kaplan, REA and Cliffs notes, as well as an Everything You Need to Know book. With respect to the science portion, in retrospect my favorite book was the Everthing book and the grade 2 science textbook. They did not cover everything but it was a most excellent starting point (for me). And these books have such nice photos, diagrams and illustrations that one really understands how a picture can be worth a thousand words. For example, an illustration of the water cycle is so much more effective than a paragraph about the water cycle. There are few to no pictures in the grand study tomes. There are a few errors, inaccuracies and badly worded parts in the the study manuals that made studying unnerving and confusing at times. Also I found the study manuals far too detailed as primers for me, particularly in the inorganic chemistry section and the physics section, having almost No knowledge of these subject areas. (I got scared off of chemistry in high school and didn't remember any physics.)

    Knowing what I know now if I had to do it over again I would get hold of the grade 3, 4, 5, 6 science textbooks (or some combination thereof) and read them. The science curriculum in California seems to be itterative; that is, the same topics are repeated year after year, each time in increasingly more depth (I think). I've developed a new respect for the California science text books and text book writers (I didn't really have an opinion before the CSET).

    With regards to math I just used the study manuals. I think they were Ok for math but I didn't form any strong opinions about them re: math.

    So, I have a little over a month or so to study for parts I and III. I will use textbooks and the Everything book (and because I paid for them - the study manuals, as well) for the history. But I'm not sure how to proceed re: the rest of the subject matter. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Having said all that one must remember Teacher Groupie's caveat: Everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you (but I still think the California science textbooks are worth perusing).
     
  14. jmgs2

    jmgs2 Rookie

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    Oldsoccerlady, thanks for all the info. I do have some of the Everything Your Nth Grader Needs To Know books. So I'll start with that and take it from there. What exactly are the California science books?
     
  15. oldsoccerlady

    oldsoccerlady Rookie

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    jmgs2
    Your welcome.

    I am referring to the text books that the students use in grade 3 to grade 6. So for example, in grade three in our school district (maybe state-wide) we usethe series of Harcourt Science texts (California edition). I think the Harcourt science texts are used through grade 5. In grade 6 a text called Earth Science published by by Holt, Rinehart and Winston is used. It occurs to me that every school board might decide on different text books. The same text books may not be used in your area. I don't know. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about these things can help us here. Nonetheless, you can probably hunt down some good elementary school textbooks and study from them.

    For mathematics in our area we use the Harcourt math series from K-6. I don't know much about them.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    jmgs2, I'm guessing oldsoccer is talking about the science textbooks that are approved for use in California schools.

    Some other options: For science, Usborne's Internet-linked Science Encyclopedia is a hefty but kid-friendly tome that's got some of the best science art around. Usborne has also got quite a nice Dictionary of Math that's well illustrated and has fine links to Web sites.

    For history and visual art, check out the bargain sections of your local Borders or Barnes & Noble (and if you're in West LA, I know you've got at least one of each within striking distance). A good historical atlas can be a great help in studying history.

    Pickings are somewhat slimmer for reading, language & literature, I'm afraid. If you go with the Scholastic Everything You Need To Know About ___ Homework series, please disregard the first 20 pages of the English Homework book, which were written and edited by people who don't know linguistics.
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    oldsoccer, our emails crossed. Hope I haven't misrepresented you.
     
  18. oldsoccerlady

    oldsoccerlady Rookie

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    Teacher Groupie, you're right. I was talking about the California textbooks. They are used statewide then?

    Maybe I will look at the Usborne book. Just for fun. It sounds good.

    Thanks for the advice re: study resources for subtest I.
     
  19. mathstudent

    mathstudent Rookie

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    Jmgs2 the national class is for single subject.....thats why it's not as expensive as the others.....sorry. If you would still like I can send you the website url.....let me know.
     
  20. MS Candy

    MS Candy Comrade

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    Remember to check out your local library, my branch has the CSET-REA prep book and other books like Scholastic's "Everything you need to know about US history homework" books, I know they have a whole series. If you check the children's non-fiction section you can find great stuff, in addition to the test Prep area.
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Information on National's "on-ground" (live) and online classes is at http://www.nu.edu/el.

    Whatever resources you go with, it makes sense to spend some time with before spending money on, so you get what works for YOU.
     
  22. jmgs2

    jmgs2 Rookie

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    Oldsoccerlady and MS Candy, thanks. I found the Harcourt and Everything You Need to Know books at my local library. Now, comes the hard part of actually going through the books instead of just staring at them (and it's already huge enough not to ignore!)

    Mathstudent, thanks again. I was able to get the info from NU. I'll decide in a week or two if I'll go for the MS prep class which starts on the last weekend of Aug.

    TG, thanks again and again for providing all the resources and calm voice.
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    With National's online class, you get me.
     
  24. Kelster

    Kelster Comrade

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    But TeacherGroupie, it was so much more fun posting my questions to you here where I didn't have to pay for your assistance. Although, you were had several others posting questions to you to I still felt like I was getting personal one on one attention, because you would present several sample problems for me to work on. I really liked your approach, not out right giving us the answer, but giving us suggestions to work on and then presenting another similar problem
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Kelster, my little CSET demon, what makes you think that's not the way I'd actually teach??

    (Test-passer skill: be able to cite relevant evidence, if it exists, and if it doesn't, be able to figure it out and come up with a different answer.)
     
  26. C21Heather

    C21Heather Rookie

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    Mathstudent: I am interested in a "national" course, and see that TG has mentioned them before. What is the full name or url that I can find more info about national and the courses they offer online?
     
  27. C21Heather

    C21Heather Rookie

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    TG: I am a new member and just trying to figure out how I'm going to pass the three subsets in the next 4 months and still prepare adequately for them. I have spent the last two days reading so many threads and all of your advice. You're incredible! Thanks for doing this!
    I have a question, and I suspect your answer will be "it depends," so let me try to narrow it a bit for you here. Multi-subject, probably Subset 2 in September and Subsets 1 and 3 in November; CBEST in October. Yes, I'm green. I just got accepted into a credential/masters program at a wonderful university, on condition I register for, take and pass all four tests before January. I had hoped that I could take CBEST first in October (other than reviewing math, not too concerned about it), one subset in November and the other two in January. Those were the plans I shared with my enrollment counselor two weeks ago. Two days ago he advised me that I will have to pass all the tests (i.e., have all my results back) by the end of January to continue with the student teaching program in February.
    Having said all that, I figured if I take Subset 2 first, it will allow me to review the math for the CBEST, while also studying the science. I think this will be the best plan. In taking the practice tests, I see that I'm fine on understanding the question and "in-general" answers, but I'm not normally a details person, so I've forgotten all of the fabulous information I was taught in high school 20 years ago. What I really need is to learn specifics: memorize facts, terms, dates... all of the details that are required in the questions and especially for the response questions.
    Ok, after all that, here's my question: on a limited budget (currently unemployed), which study guides would you recommend most?
    It seems many use Cliffs, followed by Kaplan, Barrons and Times (I've been counting the times I see these mentioned), as well as a host of other choices. Yes, I tend to be a audio/visual learner, so a workshop would probably be ideal, but I need to review facts and terms and learn some of this stuff first. Can you help me figure out where to best spend my money?
     
  28. C21Heather

    C21Heather Rookie

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    Mathstudent: I apologize, after catching up on some of the comments since I read yours, I see that TG posted the url for National. Thanks TG!
     
  29. C21Heather

    C21Heather Rookie

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    TG: Do you know if National will let you re-attend the workshops for free if necessary once you've paid for one of the workshops? I was thinking that may be a cost-effective way for me to attend: go only to the subset 2 prep classes starting in August, then go back and attend the subset 1 and 3 prep classes in October...
     
  30. jmgs2

    jmgs2 Rookie

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    C21Heather,

    Where are you located? I'm in the West LA area and I want to see if I can get a few people in the LA area who may want to get together for informal class sessions to be handled by someone who handles preparation classes for MS CSET. Materials will be included. PM me for details.

    I'm taking the CBEST on Aug and planning to take subtest II in Sept and subtests I and III in November. I also want to pass all by end of the year so I can start my credential program by next Spring.
     
  31. Kelster

    Kelster Comrade

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    LOL TG, welll I certenly would hope that you would teach the same way on-line for national as you did so here. All too often I have worked with tutors who instead of taking the approach you did, who would just do the problem start to finish for me and say "there you go, do you understand now?" However, your approach allowed me the to figure the problem out myself and experience that Ah-Ha moment for myself and then get kudos from you.


    Knowing that you teach on-line classes for national, if the occassion ever arises I would try one of your course for sure.

    CSET demon.....yeah right, I just did what I needed to do to prepare myself the best I could for this test. And I guess it's because of that I am offering what little advice I am able to offer.
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    It's all about tools and processes. Teaching to specific questions on ANY test is just about completely pointless, not just because another version of the test may have different questions but because it does nothing for either the skill base or the knowledge base. And, frankly, the real payoff for passing CSET comes down the road, in having that knowledge and those connections reasonably fresh for one's future students.
     
  33. C21Heather

    C21Heather Rookie

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    TG:
    I'm not sure if your latest post was for me or someone else. If for me, I want you to know that I understand that and cannot agree more emphatically.
    However, the practical side of me knows what I really need to review to prep for this test are the facts that I will need to know to answer the questions.
    What I really want to know is: What would you suggest is the best (affordable) resource to summarize the facts (names, dates, definitions of terms) to get a general understanding of the specifics before I broaden my studies as you so often suggest?
    Thanks!
    I guess what I need to make clear is that I'm not looking for sample tests that I can just memorize answers from. I'm looking for an explanation of the answers (definitions of terms), and general background knowledge to be able to better understand/address the questions.
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    C21Heather, I think my response might have been to Kelster's #23 or so, or it may just have been to make sure that the point is made, again and still. (Think of it as a philosophical itch that I can't not scratch, if that helps.)

    For Subtest II to begin with, start by downloading the subtest description (unless you've already downloaded the Subject Matter Requirements document for the whole of CSET-MS). The subtest description is one of the two documents specifically for Subtest II: the other one contains sample test items, plus answers for all the questions, including the constructed responses. (This is where the Test Guide and the Practice Test differ: neither the pdf nor Java versions of the Practice Test contain constructed response answers. If there are terms there that you don't fully know, look them up - I like Answers.com, but you don't have to go there.

    I really would recommend the Usborne Internet-linked Science Encyclopedia, and if money's tight, see if your local public library has it. Next best choice would be to check Barnes & Noble's bargain section (AND the bargain part of the kids' section) for a book that may be called either Science Encyclopedia or The World of Science; the last forty pages or so are hands-on experiments, with photographs, that you can do with items found around many homes, and they're quite good.

    For math, whatever you used for CBEST will give you the skills; the big difference with CSET is that you have to explain your thinking, one way or another.

    And I would certainly scavenge posts on A to Z forums in search of links to Web sites that explain math and science in terms that make sense to audio/visual you - there ARE links out there, and a significant number of them are free.

    Last but not least: if you've got questions, speculations, ruminations, possible answers, puzzlements, or whatever, please post them here. Your question may unlock answers for you - AND for someone else who couldn't quite figure out how to ask.

    Okay?
     
  35. WonderW05

    WonderW05 Comrade

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    jmgs2
    As far as what I used to study...a little bit of everything. As I said in earlier posts I am a visual learner as well as a kinesthic learner. I cannot comprehend as much if I only hear it. I have to write it and see it as well. I am towards the end of my credentialing so with that said, my classes helped a lot. However, I needed a refresher on history, science and math. I borrowed some 4th and 5th grade history and science books from a friend's classroom and boy the pictures were great, not to mention short and to the point which is what I wanted.
    As far as study guides I have the Cliffs CSET and do not like it one bit. I just didn't like the layout. But I did buy the Boosalis book and found it much more to my liking. I have the whole what every 1-6 should know (bought them cheap off the internet-Ebay) and I have the Everything you know booklets(the math really helped me understand and prepare for the CBEST and then helped me refresh on the CSET) again simple, short and to the point.
    For the history I also watched tv and asked my family questions....they love talking about history WWII,WWI and such.. I searched the internet constantly if I didn't understand something and needed more examples. I basically lived and breathed the CSET while shopping Math, gardening Science(photosynthesis) and history through conversations with my family. Make it like a game and try and connect why things are they way that they are.Also, It is imperative that you print off the content Domains off the CSET site which will guide you to what you need to know. As I was studying I would highlight on my paper once I finished studying each Domain. It is a guide so that you don't spend time studying things that May NOT be on the test. I have learned through this site that having a positive outlook and doing the best that you can do is simply all you can do...we can only try.
    Another suggestion is make a time line. For example, count how many days there are until the next test. Then figure out how many pages you need to study then divide those by the days give yourself 2-3 days before the test to only review or relax. Then, stick to that schedule. I think when I started I had to do 5 pages a day which I could do in about an hour depending on the subject (Science and History took me longer-because I had to memorize) Then, go back and review. Make yourself responsible for studying every day unless you want a day off. But be sure you are good to your self take breaks and do something else, then go back and finish. I had to be very disipline with myself as I would find myself making excuses for not studying like for example had to clean the dishes (yeah like 1 dish) and clean the house(yeah, if it were any other day I would say forget it~the things we do and say so that we don't study.), so I had to become very strict with myself and it was VERY VERY HARD, but as time went on i enjoyed looking forward to getting to the next 5 pages and it became easier as each day went on. The posting on this site made it much more enjoyable as I know I wasn't the only one studying~I wasn't alone and that made it much easier just knowing that there are others doing the same thing.
    That is where my monthy quote came in: Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood~Marie Curie.
    As I began studying more I understood and became less fearful of taking the BIG test.
    Hope this helps you out. Think about how you learn best then you can go from there. Be sure though to print out that Content specifications first then go from there.
    Keep posting so we know how your doing.
    If you have questions, feel free to post them.
    Good Luck
     
  36. WonderW05

    WonderW05 Comrade

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    Geez....I didn't realize what a long post sorry....it looks like a novel..
     
  37. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Not to worry, dear.
     
  38. C21Heather

    C21Heather Rookie

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    Thank you both, TG and WW. I believe I found the domains you are referring to, but it seems to me that there isn't much these domains don't cover! (I'm sure I'm not the first to wonder if I went to school in a different era... most of this seems university level stuff to me!!). I will see what I can find at the local library and in the bargain books sections. It helps to have an idea of what to look for (instead of just picking up any book out there).
    And I promise that I will ask here as I come across things I don't understand. Thanks again!
     
  39. C21Heather

    C21Heather Rookie

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    WW:
    You mentioned not liking the presentation of Cliffs, but did you find the content helpful? And what is the difference between "what every 1-6 should know" and "the Everything you know" booklets? Do you know offhand the exact titles? The "everything your __ should know" is mentioned often, but I wonder what the other one is you are referring to?
     
  40. Kelster

    Kelster Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2006

    Hi Heather,

    I'll put my two sense in here. I used the Cliff notes to prepare and I found it very helpful especially in the math area and I found the REA study guide helpful for history.

    I'm not sure about "what every 1-6 should know" is about, but I did use "Every thing your 4th grader needs too know" And is everything that a 4th grade student will be learning during that year. I used it for subtest I and II and found it very informative and took pages of notes for each of those sections.

    A web site that I used a lot was answers.com and here are a few others that might prove helpful too. http://www.civilwarhome.com/records.htm , this one list all of the civil war battles with descriptions.

    www.kidinfo.com/american_history/industrial_revolution.html[/url], this is a site for kids about the American Revolution

    finally a good one for world history is
    www.hyperhistory.com, this one gives you timelines, civilizations, individuals and events.

    Hope this helps.
     
  41. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 28, 2006

    (1) What Your Nth Grader Needs to Know, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. Fill in a grade between 1 and 6.

    There's an interesting Web site about Hirsch's approach at http://www.engines4ed.org/hyperbook/nodes/NODE-92-pg.html.

    (2) Everything You Need to Know about ___ Homework, published by Scholastic. Fill in a domain of knowledge (Science, Math, History...)

    A review of a previous edition of the Math Homework book on Amazon.com suggests that that edition suffered from careless typos that may have made it difficult to follow. More troubling is that, in the English Homework book, the first twenty or so pages (on linguistics and the history of language and of English) are rife with errors of fact. The remaining material, however, is often quite good.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2006

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