Friday, May 8, 2009

Lightning Literature for Junior High School

So, here is part II of my ramblings about what to do for literature next year.  This one is on Lightning Literature.

Lightning Lit has two “programs” sort of.  They have grade-level programs for 7th and 8th grade, which are meant to last a full year.  They also have a dozen or so one semester programs for high school.  While these programs have a few things in common, they are also quite different, and I think I am going to split up my review into “high school” and “junior high.”  This post is on Jr. High.

Disclaimer:  I have not used this program.  I have read a LOT of online reviews, I have thoroughly gone over Hewitt's website, I have thoroughly read a bunch of samples, but certainly not all of them.  This is my opinion based on all of that.  Someone who has actually used, or even owned, the materials would be more qualified to review it.



What I like:

Great books, and not all that many of them, including many SL titles 

Very readable

Includes units on poetry, and I've heard only good things about those


What I don't like:

Well, a lot of weeks (15 of 36 in the 7th grade program) "all" they are doing is reading about 40 pages of a book

On the other hand, when you complete a book, you spend a week doing workbookish exercises (some of which do truly appear to be valuable, but all at once???)

And then you spend a week writing one or two major papers

Only to start over by spending the next few weeks reading 40 pages per week

I read repeatedly that the "lit analysis" part is pretty light.  You spend a couple weeks on plot and climax and such in 7th grade, and really never have any additional discussion of plot again.  So, it's a mastery approach, LOL, only you move on awfully quickly

It seems like far too much money when half of the weekly assignments are to read the next 40 pages ($50 for 7th grade, $54 for 8th grade -- plus the cost of the books)

I'm looking for lit analysis.  I'm looking for more writing, with specific direction and examples.

My opinion?  This seems far too expensive for what you appear to get.  I really don’t like the fact that the workload is not spread out more evenly. 

On the other hand, I know a LOT of high school SL moms love Lightning Lit, so I keep thinking I'm missing something.  And, as will be clear in my post on the high school portion, my impressions there are a bit different.


Hidden Jewel said...

For the 7th grade LL, there are discussion questions which are broken down by chapter to be done during the time the student is reading. At least that is how I plan to implement it.

For high school lit analysis, I have heard good things about IEW's Windows to the World. I was going to use it this year but had to put it off as dd wants to do The One Year Adventure Novel.

Debra said...

See, now, that doesn't sound so bad... at least better than the impression I was getting from the samples. I sure wish I could see some of this stuff live, you know?

I might give Lightning Lit another look in July, when this year feels *finished* Thanks for the clarification!!!

Anonymous said...

I found it was very thorough. Both my student and I were pleased. She enjoyed the reading--a nice blend of poetry and prose literature and was sufficiently challenged by the assignments. She was able to do much on her own, although there is important teacher/student discussion you wouldn't want to skip.

There are enough additional activities (not busywork but real learning) to keep an honor's student busy, although doing 'just the core' is thorough enough for a regular student. (We did 8th grade) I will definitely buy it again. Don't let the binder size scare you. It will take probably about a half hour to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the schedule, flow and sequence, but after the initial perusal I think you'll find smooth sailing.

BTW, I was an honor's English major--that's only relevant because of the subject and to let you know from where I'm coming, I will say I do enjoy teaching literature. So basically, **thumbs up**!!

In regards to the time reading--I think that's a valuable part of the program. You want the student to read thoroughly and not feel rushed. This allows for it. My daughter actually looked forward to this course.