Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lighting Literature and Composition- Grade 3 (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Having a son with special needs, it's often a bit difficult to find a Language Arts program that works well for him.  We have tried various programs for reading and writing, all with mixed results.  It was extremely frustrating for him, as his sister excelled in English and surpassed him, while he struggled to keep his head above the water.

Which is why when member of the crew were given the chance to review a combination literature and composition curriculum from Hewitt Homeschooling, I wanted to give it a try.  For the last six weeks, Garrett has been working through the Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set.

Hewitt Homeschooling started it's roots in the educational market in 1963. Through the years, the company has evolved and now focuses on providing materials for homeschool parents that emphasize character development, positive work ethics, community service and academic excellence.

About Lightning Literature

Lightning Literature is a combined grammar and writing curriculum. Each week students complete four lessons which compose of a daily reading selection, reading comprehension questions and book discussion questions, grammar and mechanics lessons, and writing composition assignments. Grammar and Mechanics lessons include lesson on grammar, punctuation, parts of speech, sentence diagramming, and literary concepts such as fiction versus nonfiction and the difference between informative and descriptive writing.  The curriculum is written and arranged by Elizabeth Kamath and is available for elementary grades 1st -3rd (a 4th grade level will be releases soon), middle school levels 7th and 8th, and senior high school options that cover American Literature, British Literature, World Literature and Shakespearean works.

For this review, we were given a two book set consisting of a 340 page full color student workbook and a 337 page Teacher's Guide.

In addition to Student Workbook and the Teacher's Guild,fictional chapter book selections can either be purchased or borrowed from a local library. These are books that the curriculum author has found literary merit in, such as Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Tale of Despereaux, as well as a four weeks dedicated to poetry.   Multi-cultural books such as Rickshaw Girl and The Big Wave are also included to help broaden the student's understanding of life for people in other parts of the world.  Nine books in total are needed throughout the 36 week curriculum, but most parents will find that a number of these books are already in their homeschool library.

What We Thought

Garrett wasn't too keen about a new Literature/Grammar curriculum when we this first arrived. He
hates English - it is the bane of his existence.  So, when I told him that it was time to do English, we indeed had a bit of a meltdown. Especially when I brought out our copy of Sarah, Plain and Tall, the first literature selection to be used for week 1 and 2. After some reassurance that I would actually read the story to him aloud, he settled down enough to sit on the couch and listened while I read the story (which he enjoyed).  And then it was time to start the first assignment in his workbook.

After discussing what we've read in the book, we moved on to the reading comprehension questions that are given in the Teacher's Guide.  from there, it was time to move on to the first day's lesson in the workbook.  Garrett once again balked until we actually opened the book and he saw that this wasn't going to be a long, drawn out lesson.  Each lesson is 1-2 pages in length and takes about 10-15 minutes on average to complete.  Day 1 took Garrett about 5 minutes to complete.  Even Garrett can handle 5 minutes.  Since that first lesson, I can say he hasn't given me any troubles with doing his English work.

Finally, to end our lesson, we began the writing composition section of the lesson. I really like the way the writing assignments are broken down into easy to handle chunks. For example, for the first week of lessons, Garrett began working on writing a paper to describe a place near him, an assignment that would be completed over the course of two weeks.  For the first day, Garrett simply had to brainstorm placed that he would be interested in writing about and then pick a final destination, which he selected our front yard.  For Day 2, he simply wrote down a list of nouns (which was part of the focus of the week's grammar lesson) to describe the front yard, such as trees, grass, roses, the garden hose, driveway, van, Challenger, and our Subaru. For Day 3, he took the list of nouns he already had written and began writing down adjectives to describe those nouns. For the last lesson that week, he then narrowed down this list to those things he wanted to include in his final writing.  Each of these activities took him a total of 15-20 minutes and while he did require a bit of coaching on my part to help him think of adjectives to describe each work, it was work he could handle.

The second week of this writing assignment continued to break down the writing assignment in
manageable chunks.  The first day, he had to find a way to interject himself into what he planned to write, such as he likes to climb on our van and slide down the windshield or that he likes climbing the small tree in our yard. On day two, he was instructed to begin to create an order outline for his paper. Day Three, he began a rough draft for his paper and on Day Four, he had written the final draft for his first paper. This was a HUGE deal for us as Garrett hates writing and fights me tooth and nail to write even the simplest of sentences.   Since then, he has also written a paper describing how to make an origami paper frog and is has just started writing a personal essay about what he would like to be when he grows up.

Garrett working on brainstorming 

I really appreciate the fact that the teacher's guide lays out each day's lesson in a very easy to follow format.  The beginning of each week starts with a "Week at a Glance" page that tells what chapters will be read from the literary selection, optional materials that can be added along with the lesson, the Grammar topics that will be covered in the lesson, and what type of writing composition will be covered.  From there, each day's lesson is laid out, starting with key notes that the teacher might want to know for the lesson.  Answers to each activity in the workbook are given so that I can follow along and make sure that I'm instructing him correctly on his lesson.

Here's a video of Garrett doing some of his lessons. For this particular lesson, he was asked to do sentence diagramming, first marking the subject from the predicate of the sentence and then underlining verbs and nouns and identifying the adjectives and adverbs.  Garrett has gotten pretty good at doing sentence diagramming, something that honestly, I never enjoyed doing in school.  Now that I'm teaching these skills to him, I'm seeing more and more how it really is a pretty important skill for him.

Overall, I have to say I'm very pleased with this particular curriculum.  Just the fact that Garrett has been enjoying it is great but the fact that it has helped to get Garrett actually writing papers is an amazing feat.

" Just the fact that Garrett has been enjoying it is great but the fact that it has helped to get Garrett actually writing papers is an amazing feat." #hsreviews  #homeschool

For more information about Hewitt Homeschooling and the Lightning Literature & Composition curriculum, be sure to visit their website.  They can also be found on any of the following social media platforms.

In addition to Grade 3 Lightning Literature, members of the crew were given the opportunity to review many of the other grade level options that are available on the Hewitt Homeschooling website, including those offerings for Senior High school.  Be sure to click the banner below to find these reviews and see which level might work for your students.

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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