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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TOS Review: Hewitt Homeschooling Literature

Hewitt Homeschooling Review
My son and I were excited to get the opportunity to review:

Lightning Literature and Composition: American Mid-Late 19th Century Student's Guide - $29.95
Lightning Literature and Composition: American Mid-Late 19th Century Teacher's Guide - $2.95

Both are from Hewitt Homeschooling and are intended to be used with students in Grades 9-12.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

The curriculum contains 4 units. Each unit is broken down into lessons to cover your choice of a semester's worth (18 weeks) or a full-year's worth (36 weeks) of learning. Hewitt Homeschooling recommends that the lessons are completed within the semester's time table, but allows for them to be spread out to cover an entire year.

The study required using additional books that were not included with the study guide or teacher's guide. I had a couple of the titles, and the others were easy to find at my local library. I even found Uncle Tom's Cabin free online as well as I was able to download it from my library's e-book section. The additional books include:

Most of the books, my son had not yet read. Though, I did read The Call of The Wild aloud to him several years ago.

Hewitt Homeschooling also offers a Lightning Literature and Composition Pack to purchase, if you prefer, for $51.96 and includes the student and teacher's guides that I received plus the 4 additional literature books.

The curriculum is easy to follow with some reading assignments found in a book you buy or check out from the library, and others found inside the curriculum book provided. The order of the reading includes:

Unit 1
  1. Uncle Tom's Cabin book by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  2. Selected poems, included in the curriculum text, from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass
Unit 2
  1. A short story from Bret Harte called, "The Outcasts of Poker Flat", which is included in the curriculum text
  2. The book Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Unit 3
  1. Selected poems from Paul Laurence Dunbar, included in the curriculum text
  2. The book, The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
Unit 4
  1. Selected poems from Emily Dickinson, included in the curriculum text
  2. Jack London's book, The Call of the Wild
After the student reads the introductory information, during the first day, it's time to dive into reading. Since the first book on the list is the longest one in the curriculum, a lot of time is spent on Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. The first six weeks (12 weeks if you're following the full-year schedule) are mostly reading a few chapters a week of Uncle Tom's Cabin and answering discussion questions while keeping the focus on the topic of "Theme". Though, before the student dives into reading, there is a nice background informational section about the author, and also gives the student things to think about while they're reading. There are 8 writing exercises at the end of the first lesson.

Because I knew we wouldn't have time to finish the entire semester's worth, or full-year's worth of lessons during the course of the review, I decided to jump ahead a bit just to get a glimpse of what was in the rest of the book.

The lessons encompass topics such as:
  • Theme
  • Humor
  • Description
  • Point of View
  • Figurative Language
  • Register (Levels of Formality in Writing)
  • Sound in Poetry

The student guide is in its third printing edition and is a perfect bound 160-page book. It is presented in a way that makes it interesting for the students to read, with grayed boxes summarizing what is being taught, bold headlines so the student knows exactly what they are learning in each section, and segments of the text highlighted inside eye-catching text boxes. The Student's Guide includes:
  • Information about the Authors
  • Comprehension questions
  • Writing Exercises
  • Discussion Question and Project Suggestions
  • Reading Lists Related to the Period or Topic
  • Semester and Full-Year Schedules that allow for either 18 weeks or 36 weeks of learning
  • Bibliography
The teacher's guide is 44 white pages with typed print in a 3-hole punched format and ready to insert into a binder for use. The Teacher's Guide includes:
  • Answers to Comprehension Questions
  • Teaching Schedule
  • Teaching and Grading Helps
  • Copies of the Writing Exercises
  • Discussion Questions

I knew from the start that actually getting my son to sit down and read a book at all would be my biggest challenge. This child blossomed early, reading fluently at the age of 3, really! But, my excitement about this accomplishment quickly waned as he has entered his teen years. This child who once insisted on staying up till he finished a 65-page early reader compilation book of Dick and Jane stories, now cringes at the thought of even looking at a book.

Once I saw the curriculum and was holding it in my hands, I got very excited. Though, I still knew that while it is set up in a way that many parents could merely just hand the student book to their child, give him or her assignments, and receive back some great work - I knew I was going to have to find a way to present the idea that he would actually be reading an entire book.

I was thrilled when I found the first required book at my library as an e-book. Having it on screen instead of on paper works better for my son. From there, I chose to take the lessons at the slower, full-year pace instead of the shorter, recommended 18-week semester schedule.


I'll just sum it up by saying - I LOVE THIS CURRICULUM! I'm very excited to have the opportunity to use it to help my son move beyond his dislike toward reading. The formatting of the student book is designed to capture and hold the interest of a high school student.

I really love the checklists that are provided in the Teacher's Guide, and I found the teaching schedule to be quite helpful as well.

Find Hewitt Homeschooling Literature on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and the Hewitt Homeschooling Blog. Also, read what other TOS reviewers thought:

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