Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lightning Literature (Schoolhouse Review)


CompanyHewitt Homeschooling

Products:  Lightning Literature and Composition: British Early-Mid 19th Century  Student's Guide ($29.95)
Lightning Literature and Composition: British Early-Mid Teacher's Guide ($2.95)

When students are approaching high school age, it’s time to think seriously about incorporating classic literature into their studies. When my children were young, we read and discussed many many books. Many of these were “classic” children’s literature, but were still easy to teach. Older students need to start reading meatier books that can be more difficult to teach without outside help, though. Lightning Literature and Composition is a wonderful program that makes teaching classic literature easy for the homeschool parent. Writing essays, fictional works, and poetry is also a focus of each course. Currently, Lightning Literature offers upper level courses for 7th grade through high school and elementary level courses for first and second grade.

Since Emily has been studying World History, I chose the British Early-Mid 19th Century Guides in order to coordinate the subjects somewhat. This particular guide can be used for any high school student, but is recommended for students in 10th-12th grades, or those who have already completed a Lightning Literature high school guide. (Emily had completed a small portion of  the 9th grade American Lit. course, and will be entering 9th grade) This is a one-semester course that teaches the following works of literature:

  • William Blake (selected poems; text in this Guide)
  • Jane Austen (novel: Pride and Prejudice)
  • Sir Walter Scott (novel: Ivanhoe)
  • Thomas Carlyle ("Essay on Scott," text in this Guide)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley (selected poems; text in this Guide)
  • Mary Shelley (novel: Frankenstein)
  • Charlotte Bronte (novel: Jane Eyre)
  • William Makepeace Thackeray ("Rebecca and Rowena," text in this Guide)

For this review, we completed William Blake’s poems and read Pride and Prejudice.

The William Blake Unit included

  • A 2-page biography of Blake
  • A short introduction to Blake’s work and his poetry books Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience
  • Questions to think about “While You Read”
  • 8 poems
  • Comprehension questions for the poems
  • Literary Lesson on “tone”
  • Discussions of each poem and its tone
  • 6 writing exercises (It is suggested that the student choose one exercise from poetry and short story units and 2 exercises from the novel units; The assignments included writing a 12 line poem describing an event in nature and using a strong sense of tone, analyzing another of Blake’s poems, and writing a pair of descriptions for the same event or object, but using a different tone for each.

The Jane Austen Unit included:

  • A short biography of Jane Austen
  • “While You Read” questions
  • Comprehension questions for Pride and Prejudice
  • Literary Lesson on “characterization”
  • 6 writing exercises to choose from, all related to characterization
  • A mini lesson on Romanticism

We thoroughly enjoyed working through these units. We had some great discussions about the poetry (I really liked the selections that were included), and Emily enjoyed writing her own poem.

We spent several weeks on the Jane Austen unit, because it took Emily that long to read the book. (I read it too, since I had never read Pride and Prejudice and my older daughter has been telling me for years that I should read it!) I try to read whatever Emily is studying anyway, but if I hadn’t read the book, the questions in the guide would still have enabled me to discuss it with her. Emily didn’t love Pride and Prejudice, but she did keep disappearing with the book when she was supposed to be doing other things! The comprehension questions allowed me to see that she was following the story. (Actually, she often knew more of the answers than I did!) She enjoys writing, so the assignments were not difficult for her, although, as always, she balked at the revision part of the process. I was glad to see that this course didn’t seem too hard for her, even though she’s a little younger than the recommended age.

Lightning Literature is very parent friendly. The Teacher’s Guide (88 3-hole punched pages that we put into a notebook) includes answers to the discussion questions, tips on grading papers, a suggested schedule for semester or year, discussion questions and activity ideas, and the same writing assignments that are in the student book. The Student Book is easy to pick up and use, with no planning required.

I like that lessons are taught throughout the course on topics such as imagery, persuasive writing, setting, and characterization, and that the writing assignments require the students to make use of the technique for the unit.

I think that Lightning Literature and Composition is a good solid course that will prepare students well for college. In fact, I very often recommend it to others. Other Crew members reviewed other levels of Lightning Literature and Composition, so click the banner to read more about this product!

Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.


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