We are a literature-loving family and I am always looking for ways to make our books come alive for the kids, so I was thrilled to be chosen to review Lightning Literature and Composition: British Medieval Student’s Guide from Hewitt Homeschooling! I had heard of this company and the Lightning Lit program in the past, but had never had the opportunity to see it for myself to have any idea what it contained. I think this is the literature program we’ve been looking for, especially for the middle and high school levels! I also received the Lightning Literature and Composition: British Medieval Teacher’s Guide for use in our review.
The Lightning Lit British Medieval program is geared towards 11th and 12th graders, according to the website. My son is technically a sophomore but is advanced in most of his academics and has a high interest in reading excellent literature. This was his second choice for our review because of the excellent books such as Beowulf that are studied. (His first choice was only such because it included The Hobbit as part of the study! Yes, we are Tolkien fans here!) He is also studying Medieval times in literature, so we were thrilled to receive this and will continue using it!
For this study, the schedules are not written out in a strict way. Lightning Lit includes at least two choices for a schedule including one to finish the course in a semester and another to finish the course in a year. Each schedule assigns tasks by the week, and does not divide those tasks down to the day. Because of this, you can have your student work as many or as few days per week as you desire, and they still have an idea as to what they should accomplish by the end of the week. As advanced as my student is, I must admit that his assessment of his free reading time is accurate and the semester schedule was a bit hectic for him.
For the semester schedule, in Week 1 the assignments included reading the first half of Beowulf and answering the comprehension questions. The comprehension questions are doled out for every 2 or 3 chapters, and there are about a dozen questions per section. This is not a light study! I gave my son the option of reading the entire assignment first and then going back and doing all of the questions, or to stop at the end of each section and answer the questions for that section before going forward. He chose to do all the reading at once, but then readily admitted that the CQ’s were more difficult that way. From there forward, he would read as far in his allotted reading time as he could, and the next day he would answer the questions for however far he was able to get. I love that laying the schedule out by the week like that gives us the freedom to do it in the way that works best for us! Thanks Lightning Lit!
Besides Beowulf, the British Medieval program covers other great medieval literature, ending with the well known Canterbury Tales. The list of assigned reading is on the website, and much of the middle material is actually in the book itself; for this program, I think the two books I mentioned here are the only ones I had to find on my own, and Beowulf was free for Kindle. But this program is more than just literature; it also incorporates a Literary Lesson. It mostly appears that there are 2 lessons, including the literary component, for each book in the Lightning Lit program. For Beowulf, the Literary Lessons included one for foreshadowing and another on Anglo-Saxon Riddles.
The student then uses the Literary Lesson, equipped with the working knowledge of the examples from the book they have just read, and completes a writing assignment. There are several to choose from, and the student is allowed to pick their own (or I suppose the teacher could insist on one). The Lightning Lit schedule simply assigns it to a week, asking the student to choose a writing assignment and make a first draft. In the next week, students are generally asked to edit and make a final copy of that first writing assignment, and to choose a second writing assignment from the same lesson. By this time, the student has read the next lesson, and begins a first draft for a writing assignment for it as well.
It is hands down a lot of writing! As you would probably expect from a Composition curriculum. For us, my son hasn’t had much writing instruction or experience, and it was a bit overwhelming for him. The assignments pretty much just say to sit and write. They are three or four sentences, similar to any test prompt you might find, and my student just isn’t at the place where he can easily do that up to quality. Some of the examples from the Beowful lesson include to write a short story using foreshadowing, or to tell about an example of foreshadowing the student has seen or read in another work. That was a bit much for him, but he enjoyed composing his own riddles for the second lesson.
That said, we LOVED the Lightning Lit curriculum! It is pretty self-paced and didn’t require much interaction from me at all. I looked over his comprehension question answers to see that he really is understanding what he is reading, and left him to his own devices. I fully stand by the opinion that this program can and should count for a full literature credit as well as a full writing credit; I believe that the website says that each book is geared for a semester and thus is only a half credit, but I think that even if you draw it out to a whole year that it is well worth the full credit each.
Having stated this, we will go forward with this curriculum using just the literature components of the full Lightning Lit for now. He will read the books, answer the questions, and – yes – even read and study about the literary lessons. I will assign him a literature credit for his transcript. I just won’t have him complete the writing assignments at this time, in favor of a program that will actually teach him how to write. I expect it to take us about a year, and then he will likely be ready to just pick up the Lightning Lit programs and use them fully for both credits.
The Lightning Lit high school programs each run $29.95 for the student and just another $2.95 for the Teacher’s Guide. I do think that the TG is essential, especially if you are not reading the material with your student. It has the answers to the comprehension questions, at minimum. It’s just a stapled together booklet, though very thick, and I added it to my teacher notebook. I had thought that it was also the only place the different schedules were included, but I was mistaken in that; my student showed me that the basic semester and basic year plans are both included at the very very way back of the student book as well. YAY! The middle school guide (with The Hobbit, which I did not receive for review but hope and plan to purchase) is only $25 but also requires a $25 workbook and the teacher guide is more expensive at $20.
You can connect with Hewitt Homeschooling on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and the Hewitt Blog. Don’t forget to check out the other Crew Reviews! Everyone reviewed a different set, a lot of people did different programs from Lightning Lit, but some also reviewed a parent resource and others reviewed a fun looking elementary aged product. Go check it all out!