Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Review of Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling

Language Arts isn't the easiest subject to teach in our house, mostly because I love anything to do with Language Arts and my kids don't love this subject.  So there always seems to be a little bit of a battle because I want them to be strong readers and good writers, but they just want to get the work done.  This is why I was excited to receive Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling to review with Buddy.  We also got a chance to try out their paper evaluation service which was very helpful to me.
 Lightning Literature and Composition PackGrade 8 with Stories and Poems, Homeschool, Personalised, Encouragement
Hewitt Homeschooling has been around since 1964.  Their goal has always been to improve education.  In 1983, they changed their primary function from consulting with educational institutions to becoming a proponent of homeschooling.  They offer services, testing, and products for students in Kindergarten through high-school.  One of their main products they offer is their Lightning Literature program.  This program is available for Grades 1-3 (Grade 4 is coming soon), Grades 7-8, and they have 12 different Lightning Literature courses for high school.  They developed their Lightning Lit program when they saw a need for curriculum that uses whole books, teaches deep reading and writing skills, and maintains or encourages a love of reading in the student.
The Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set we received included a student guide, a student workbook, a teacher guide, and Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages selected by Harold Bloom.  Through using this curriculum your student would read the following books:  Treasure Island, A Day of Pleasure, A Christmas Carol, The Hobbit, My Family and Other Animals,  and To Kill a Mockingbird.  They would also read several short stories and poems in the Stories and Poems book.  The entire curriculum is available to purchase for $143.95.  They also offer other purchase options if you own the books to read already.  This set has 12 chapters and is scheduled for 2 semesters.  Each semester has 18 weeks of work scheduled out for your student and it is an easy schedule to follow.
We also received a trial version of Hewitt Homeshooling's paper evaluation service.  Normally if you use this service you can submit up to 24 of your student's papers that they write for evaluation by one of the high school teachers employed by Hewitt Homeschooling.  This service costs $250 for a school year.  The trial we received allows us to submit 4 papers for professional evaluation.
I wanted to try out Lightning Lit with Buddy because I am always on the lookout for an effective Language Arts curriculum for him.  He got burnt out on reading with the curriculum we used a few years ago and I was always unsure about its Language Arts.  I felt that it always just scratched the surface while being heavy on the reading.  I also really wanted to try the paper evaluation service because I know that Buddy is a good writer when he puts his mind to it, but he sometimes struggles with overall flow of a paper and grammar issues.  I have told him about these things, but I think he need to see his work graded by someone other than me to see that I wasn't just picking on him, but was trying to make sure his work had the necessary writing elements and good flow.
When we received this Lightning Lit Set, I read through the "How to Use Lightning Literature & Composition for Grade 8" so that I knew what my role was and how to help Buddy use the curriculum.  Then we got started.  We started right at chapter 1 so that we could see how it all would work.  We followed the schedule laid out in the teacher's guide.  This schedule had Buddy read a selection in the student guide or a short story.  Then other days he would have work to do in the student workbook.  Chapter 1 went pretty quickly for him because he read a short story for this chapter.  At the end of week 2, Buddy got to choose from 4 different writing assignments.  He chose to write 5 paragraphs about the topic of his choice.  Each paragraph was a different type of paragraph - inform, explain (instruct), persuade, describe, and explore.  Then we submitted this paper for review.  While we waited to hear back on the paper we proceeded on to Chapter 2.  Chapter 2 took longer because he had to read Treasure Island.  I had him reading a few chapters each day as there are 34 chapters in the book.  His student guide had vocabulary from the book in it for him to review as he read and it had comprehension questions for each chapter to answer as he finished the chapters.  The student workbook for chapter 2 focuses on teaching about setting.  It had Buddy analyzing the setting from Treasure Island and thinking about how settings change based on time, circumstances, and the place it is happening.  Buddy has just a couple of chapters to finish in Treasure Island and then he can finish the writing assignments for Treasure Island.
Buddy has mixed feelings about the Lightning Lit we received.  He really likes how it is broken down into manageable pieces and they don't make you read a whole book in a week.  He said that he understood exactly what the student book and workbook was asking him to do and the assignments were clearly defined.  He wasn't sure what to expect from the paper he turned in (I turned it in just as he wrote it and didn't suggest any changes), but after getting it back he said he wished that he had spent more time looking it over before I sent it in.  He was surprised to see all the grammatical errors he had, but he was happy that the teacher said overall his writing was good.  The only thing he wished was different for the lightning lit was that it was not for 8th grade.  He felt like this was pretty much all review for him so far so to him it was a little boring.  I did ask if he liked the format of the product well enough for me to look at the high school products they offer and he said yes, it would be a better fit.
It's a lot of red and yellow, but it showed Buddy he needed to edit his writing before turning it in.

My thoughts on this curriculum are that it is very detailed and thorough.  It has a format that I really like and it is scheduled out well.  I like that it gave Buddy options when it came to the writing assignments so that he didn't feel forced to writing about something that didn't matter to him.  I like the way it broke down reading the books for the curriculum.  It made the reading a good pace, but not overwhelming.  I also really, really appreciated being able to try the paper evaluation service.  It was a confirmation for me that I am not expecting too much out of Buddy's work, but that he does need to try harder when writing and he needs more grammar work.  It helped me see that I do need to make grammar a focus next school year and that it wouldn't hurt to practice the basics of writing.  I do plan to check out the high school curriculum from Lightning Lit to see if one will work for us and I would definitely check out the elementary offerings for my daughter.
You can find out more about all the products and services that Hewitt Homeschooling has to offer on their website.  You can also find out more about them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.  You can learn more about the Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set we received here.  I do recommend that you check out all the reviews from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking the banner below because we got to review many different products this time.
Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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