Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hewitt Homeschooling -A Crew Review of Lightning Literature -American Mid-Late 19th Century

Every once in a while, an opportunity comes along with the Schoolhouse Review Crew that you know you should take, because while it may not ever be your absolute favorite, it is from a solid company. That was the case with our review of Hewitt Homeschooling's Lightning Literature and Composition, American Mid-Late 19th Century Student's Guide and Teacher's Guide. Arlene will be in 9th grade this Fall, and I wanted her to get some experience with answering comprehension questions, not just telling me orally about what she had read. Each year I have tried to offer Arlene a new way of approaching Literature so that hopefully she will be well-read and able to converse on a variety of classic books and topics as she gets older.

A while back, Emily and I reviewed another Lightning Lit course, so I knew what to expect from both the Student and Teacher Guides. The Student Guides always begin with an Introduction, the one in Arlene's book is 24 pages. It covers A LOT of topics, including how and why to read and write, how reading poetry is different than prose, basics on writing a paper, and how to use the Guide to get the most out of it. This American Literature course covers several well known authors, including Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin,) Mark Twain (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,) and Jack London (The Call of the Wild.) It also covers several poets including Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. The text of the poems and short story covered in the course are included in the Student Guide, you'll need to procure your own copies of the novels. Hewitt Homeschool has them all available for purchase separately, or you can borrow them from your local library. The Student Guide retails for $29.95, while the Teacher's Guide retails for $2.95. The Student Guide is an 160+ page 8&1/2 x 11" paperback, while the Teacher's Guide is 44 pages 3-hole punched  (stapled together) that includes the answers to the comprehension questions and teaching and grading aids.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review
 For each of the novels in the course, the Student's Guide has an introduction to the book and author, comprehension questions for each group of 5 chapters, a Literary Lesson (Theme, Humor, Figurative Language, etc.) and then Writing Exercises related to the novel you just finished (or comparing it to a previous novel in the course.) The poetry and short story units are similar, although with a lot less comprehension questions.

Overall, Lightening Literature's courses provide a solid framework for your student to work through a semester of Literature for High School. There is also included a year-long schedule in each book. Because we plan on doing some grammar with Arlene this next school year as well, Arlene will probably continue on using the year-long schedule. I think Arlene appreciates the variety of short-answer and multiple choice comprehension questions. I should have told her to write her answers in another notebook, but she managed to fit them into the small spaces on the pages. Maybe not the wisest choice, but there's still time for her to switch to a notebook for the other titles after Uncle Tom's Cabin.

One thing I have always liked about Lightning Literature's courses - they are independent study style. Of course I discuss with Arlene what she read, but for the most part, she can just grab her book and her guide and go do most of it on her own. For a Mom who is always time-crunched between homeschooling, working, and our family's volunteering schedule - this is a real plus!

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

One thing I want to mention is that Hewitt Homeschooling's Lightning Literature courses are worldview neutral. I can understand them wanting to make their products available to a wide market, but I also want you to understand that if you are wanting to discuss the reading selections from a Christian Worldview, you are going to need to add that in yourself. This particular title is geared for 9th grade and above. Although this is recommended for grades 9-12, because of the topics covered in Uncle Tom's Cabin and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I would NOT recommend it for anyone younger than 14. (I know sometimes students have skipped a grade or started school at an early age, so I just want to point out the maturity level I think is needed.) Hewitt Homeschooling has titles available from first grade through 12th grade, so if this one doesn't fit your student's range, be sure to click the banner below and read the Crew Reviews of several of their other titles.

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