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Lightning Lit & Comp courses

Publisher: Hewitt Homeschooling Resources
Review last updated: 2009
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Lightning Lit & Comp courses

Lightning Lit & Comp is a literature series from Hewitt Homeschooling for students in grades 7 through 12. Many high school courses and the seventh and eighth grade courses are available thus far, although additional courses are under development. Available courses are:

American Literature: Early - Mid 19th Century
American Literature: Mid - Late 19th Century
British Literature: Early - Mid 19th Century
British Literature: Mid - Late 19th Century
Shakespeare: Tragedies and Sonnets
Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets
Medieval British Literature
Christian British Authors of the Late 19th - Early 20th Centuries
World Literature I: Africa and Asia
World Literature II: Latin America, Africa, and Asia

The subtitle for these courses "Acquiring College Level Composition Skills by Responding to Great Literature" highlights two key features of the courses: plenty of composition work and study of classic literature, including full-length books.

Each course comes in a three-ring binder. All instructional information, questions and projects, some of the reading selections, and answer keys are included here. For each course, four complete books are assigned. Hewitt sells "packs" for each course that include both the guide and the four books. You can also purchase the guides separately and obtain the assigned books in some other manner.

These courses are great for homeschoolers who need to work independently most of the time, although they are even better for group classes that meet periodically.

Each lesson follows a similar format, although some will take much longer to complete than others because of the length of the literary pieces covered. Lessons begin by introducing the author and his work as well as some historical context.

Next, a list of general questions (e.g., "What is Thomas Carlyle's main point of points?") helps direct student attention as they read the assigned piece. The poems, essays, and shorter pieces to be studied are included within the binder at this point in the lesson.

Then there are comprehension questions for students to answer, and these are broken down into groups for chapters or sections of longer pieces. Answers for these questions are in an appendix.

One literary skill or topic is taught in conjunction with each literary piece. After completion of the reading assignment, students choose from a number of options for writing assignments or projects such as letters, poems, character sketches, opinion papers, analysis, and research papers. Students should choose one of these for each shorter reading selection and two for complete books. Some instruction on composition development is included in the introduction to each guide.

Students read fewer authors and pieces in these courses than they would in a traditional anthology. The breadth of coverage is compensated for by the fact that they are reading four complete works, although for Moby Dick the guide's author provides a list of chapters that might be skipped.

I was also impressed with the coherence of the British Literature, Early-Mid 19 th Century guide by Michael Gaunt. Students read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, but they also read Thomas Carlyle's "Essay on Scott" to get a broader understanding of both the author and the book as well as the literary styles and "superstars" of the time period.

In the appendices for each course are additional suggestions for projects for art, history/geography, music, religion/Bible, and science/health/nature. While the courses are "Christian friendly," they do not make frequent Biblical allusions or connections as one finds in similar courses that were designed to teach a Christian worldview. Even the project for religion/Bible could be for a non-sectarian "Bible as literature" course. Nevertheless, the lessons raise questions of morality, motivation, ethics, and other topics that could easily lead into worldview or religious discussions, written responses, or essays. This is one aspect where parental participation or direction could be extremely valuable in helping to shape the course.

While courses allow for independent study, discussion with others who are also reading the material will almost certainly make the courses more interesting and more productive.

The seventh and eighth grade courses (which I did not review) have a teachers' guide and workbook that will take a full school year to complete. High school courses are semester-long rather than year-long. There are more high school level courses in the series than there are semesters of high school, so you will need to select which courses to use. You might find that students need more composition and instruction than is provided in these courses the first few years of high school, but by the last two years, the suggested writing assignments could be sufficient on their own if students are completing at least one or two research papers.

There are no weekly schedules within these first editions, but schedules are available on the website (click here for link).

I think most students will find these courses less challenging than those by James Stobaugh and about equivalent to Learning Language Arts through Literature Gold Books.


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  • Instant Key

    • Suitable for:  independent or group learning
      grades 7-12
      Need for parent/teacher instruction: 
      minimal to moderate
      Prep time needed:
      minimal unless parents try to read all the literature
      Need for Teacher's Manual:  this book is your manual
      Religious perspective:
      secular but "Christian friendly"

    Publisher's Info

    • Hewitt Homeschooling Resources

      PO Box 9
      Washougal, WA 98671-0009
      800.890.4097 orders only
      800.348.1750 catalog requests