Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lightning Literature - A Review

7th Grade Lightning Literature & Composition Pack
8th grade Lightning Lit is also available.


by Elizabeth Kamath
Hewitt Homeschooling

From the website:

Hewitt's Lightning Lit guides use full-length novels, autobiographies, plays, essays, short stories, and poems to teach deep reading and composition skills. Unlike some literature programs that take a scatter-shot approach (where none of the literature seems connected) or that try to include too much into one book, Lightning Literature guides focus on a few classics in depth, in a systematic manner.
The grade 7 and 8 guides are year-long courses consisting of a student guide, a student workbook, and a teacher guide. The Student Guide includes biographies of the authors, vocabulary, comprehension questions, lessons on the readings, additional lessons on composition, and writing exercises. The Student Workbook is consumable. The Teacher Guide includes a teaching schedule, answers to comprehension questions, answers to the workbook pages, extra teaching help for the lessons, help in choosing appropriate writing exercises, and discussion questions.

Our Thoughts:

We have tried a few different writing programs.  Some we have liked more than others.  Still, I was curious to try this approach, in which reading classic literature is used to teach great writing.  My daughter didn't particularly like having to read pre-selected books.  She would rather pick her own choices.  But I have read several times recently, that a great way to learn to be a good writer is to read good writing.  So, I appreciate the concept behind this curriculum.

The program comes with a teacher's guide, a student textbook, and a student workbook.  You can either buy the selected readings from Hewitt in the kit, or you can purchase/borrow them on your own.

The concept is simple.  Read good literature, study it and learn from it, and then write your own.

The Teacher's Guide includes an answer key and a suggested schedule, which I appreciate.  It also provides teaching tips that help me to help my daughter.

For each lesson, your child will read an introduction of sorts to selected story.  Then, he will have a scheduled time to read the selection.  The amount of days given varies, of course, depending on the length of the book. A vocabulary list is provided to help with familiarizing your student with some of the more difficult words in the stories.  When my daughter read "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky", there was a chunk of words on the list that I didn't even know.  So when reading books from 100 years ago, the word list comes in handy.

After reading the selection, your child will go through some comprehension questions.  Some are straight-forward questions, such as where was the main character going...the type of questions that have definite right answers.  Some questions are more open to interpretation, such as how do you think someone felt.  The teacher's guide has answers to the comprehension questions. So you will have a good feel for whether or not your child read/understood the story, even if you haven't read it.

Several worksheets are provided to go along with each selection.  Some are crucial to the program, such as studying the structure of a story.  Others are optional, like the word puzzles.

When it comes time for your student to do her own writing, they will be given a few choices.  Your child can pick and choose, making sure to do at least one writing per chapter.  But they can do as many as they like, as time permits.  I appreciate that the student is given some freedom of choice.

The curriculum picks from a wide-range of stories.  Some short; some long.  Some fictional; some non-fictional.  Of course, there will be some stories a child will like better than others.  There may even be a story that he doesn't like at all.  Such is life.  But most students should enjoy at least most of the stories and they can learn from all of the stories.

Like I mentioned before, my daughter wasn't thrilled that the stories were already selected for her.  But let me tell you, we now have a new fan of "Riki-Tiki-Tavi" in our home.  And she would have never even heard of this story, let alone ever read it.  So it has opened up new doors to literature for her.

I am THRILLED this curriculum came our way.  The concept is ideal.  If you want to be a great writer, read the works of great writers.  My daughter doesn't mind using it, which is a HUGE plus.  The schedule helps keep me on track and gives my daughter a schedule for how quickly she should read the stories.  The program has lots of different aspects to it, to help keep it interesting and to give breaks between the writings, such as the included word puzzles.  It also not only assigns the writing, but it gets into the fundamentals of what really makes a good writing...things like foreshadowing, introductions, dialogue, etc.

This book is a keeper and will definitely be part of our curriculum for the upcoming year.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


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