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When you reach the end of high school, the study of British literature is one of the more popular options for an English credit. With my eldest son beginning his senior year we were planning for this course and having the chance to review the Lightning Literature and Composition: British Medieval Student’s Guide ($29.95) and Lightning Literature and Composition: British Medieval Teacher’s Guide ($2.95) from Hewitt Homeschooling this summer seemed like perfect timing for our family.
About Lightning Literature and Composition: British Medieval & Hewitt Homeschooling
Hewitt Homeschooling began as a foundation in 1963-1964 from concern over trends in health, education, welfare, and the family which they observed. Dr. Raymond Moore, one of the co-founders, wrote several titles (e.g. Home Grown Kids) which placed the foundation at the forefront of the homeschooling movement. By 1983, the focus shifted to homeschooling with curriculum development for children from kindergarten age through high school being a part of their goal. The Lightning Literature and Composition series teaches reading and comprehension skills on a deeper level than some programs by using full-length novels, autobiographies, plays, essays, short stories, and poems.
Lightning Literature and Composition: British Medieval is recommended for the later years of high school (grades 11 and 12) as it is one of the more challenging curriculums they publish. However, a love of this time period could help a younger high school student persevere and be successful with this course. The curriculum is meant to take one semester to complete. You can purchase just the guides or the curriculum in a package which includes all of the necessary reading material.
The student guide is in paperback format with the course divided into eight lessons. Each of those lessons is divided into 4 sections: an introduction, comprehension questions, a literary lesson and writing exercises. A suggested schedule for either a semester or year long approach is included for a weekly level with the student or teacher left to determine the day to day division of work.
The teacher guide comes as loose-leaf pages that have been three-hole punched making it perfect to keep in a teacher resource binder. These pages not only provide the home educator with suggested answers to the comprehension questions, but also a include the suggested semester and year long schedules, teaching and grading aids, and a copy of the writing exercises and discussion questions
Reading selections for this course (in order) are:
Beowulf (epic poem; anonymous author)
Anglo-Saxon riddles (text provided)
Piers the Ploughman (epic poem; possibly by William Landland)
York Mystery Play Cycle 42, The Ascension (play; anonymous author; text provided)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (epic poem; anonymous author)
Selection from The Gest of Robyn Hode (epic poem; anonymous author; (text provided)
"St. Thomas Becket" from The Golden Legend (biography; anonymous author; (text provided)
Selections from The Canterbury Tales (tales by Geoffrey Chaucer)
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Our Thoughts on Lightning Literature and Composition: British Medieval
While we do plan to do more than the medieval times for this year’s British literature course, I knew that starting with this time period would really appeal to him. Our all time favorite co-op experience had the history and literature focused on the middle ages and his love of this time period has not completely waned.
For the review period, he has been working through the study of Beowulf. Although we could have chosen to use a free edition of Beowulf, I elected to purchase the Kindle edition of the same version Hewitt Homeschooling includes in their curriculum package for this program. We already had a free version for our Nook which I had obtained when P indicated interest in reading it a few years ago. He had begun, but never finished as he found the translation difficult to read. However, he has really enjoyed the translation which was selected for this particular curriculum. That was one reason why I decided I am impressed with Lightning Literature and Composition as they have sought out pieces of literature that will work best for many students.
Comprehension questions are not a favorite for my boys who tend to answer in short phrases. However, I did not get a litany of complaints about the number of questions asked in the guide. For me, that indicated that either as he has matured, P recognizes the need to do more than reading through the text with minimal ‘discussion’ OR that the developers of this curriculum have given a lot of thought to finding a good balance and not creating a bunch of busy work. I’m hoping it is really a combination of the two.
What he has been dragging his feet on is the writing exercises. I am very thankful for the checklists, grading template and suggestions for the teacher when it comes to grading a student’s writing. This can be so subjective at times and this brief section in the teacher’s guide can help ease the homeschooling parent’s trepidations when it comes to grading writing, at least a little bit.
How do you approach teaching literature to your children?
Do you have a favorite time period or piece from British Literature ?
Don’t just take my word for how I found this book to be. Visit the Hewitt Homeschooling review post on the Schoolhouse Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this and other self-paced courses.