Thursday, July 31, 2014

A TOS Crew Review: Lightning Lit & Comp: 7th grade

“This is the story of the great war that Rikki-tikki-tavi fought single-handed, through the bath-rooms of the big bungalow in Segowlee cantonment.”
You might recognize this line as the first sentence in Rudyard Kipling’s short story, “Rikki-tikki-tavi.” We recently had a chance to study the story of the brave mongoose while reviewing Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 7 by Hewitt Homeschooling
I received:

The literature selections are what first drew me to the product. Aren’t they terrific?

  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • Helen Keller:  The Story of My Life -Helen Keller
  • All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot
  • Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages - Harold Bloom
“Rikki-tikki-tavi” is located in the anthology by Harold Bloom…along with several poems for study. I didn’t find a copy on Kindle, but I did find the story by itself online and an audio version on youtube.
The other books we either own, or are easily accessed for free (or with a minimal cost).
The curriculum is recommended for grades 7th and 8th.

How It Works and How We Used It
As I mentioned the first lesson out of the gate was “Rikki-tikki-tavi.” I remember it well from my reading, but Josiah had never had had the pleasure. The Teacher’s Guide has a convenient schedule lined out. I had to take things a bit slower. Josiah is dyslexic and while he loves hearing the stories, reading them is more laborious. Not to mention that the work itself takes him longer to complete. We paced things out to about one activity a day. The recommended pace is much more strenuous so don’t worry about your student not being challenged.
The Student’s Guide is set up like this.

 Introductions - brief biography of the author and what to look for the lesson
Vocabulary List – a reference list for students when they encounter words they are unfamiliar with
Comprehension Questions – Josiah did fine with these with “Rikki-tikki-tavi” (we did them orally) and the poetry, but I have a feeling we will have to break them up for more challenging reads like “Tom Sawyer.”
Literary Lessons - this is where the student learns the nuts and bolts of the study of literature.
Mini-Lessons – This is an additional lesson either for more practice or an introduction to composition skills.
Writing Exercises – These are done after the workbook exercise are done. The Teacher’s Guide is very thorough in explaining expectations and giving hints on the difficulty level of each exercise. 

The Workbook has a variety of activities. They are divided into seven types.
{L} – These focus on the Literary Lesson of the chapter.
{M} – This activity helps with hands-on practice with the Mini-Lesson.
{C} – These help the student with composition skills.
{T} – These are thinking skills.
{G} – Practice for grammar and the mechanics of writing.
{P} – Puzzle fun.
{E} – Extra Challenges.

I want to share with you some of the activities Josiah completed. 

The introduction begins with a brief biography about Rudyard Kipling located in the Student’s Guide. After reading the story, we read over a list of vocabulary words and Josiah answered comprehension questions. I brought up the audio version I had found and we listened to that as well.
You talk about rabbit trails! He was so disappointed that the mongoose is not native to the Ozarks. 

The story itself was exciting for a young man bent on adventure!

The Literary Lesson talked about Plot Line. Josiah read about exposition, foreshadowing, rising action and more. I think it helped that Josiah was able to listen to the story as well. The dramatic reading helped him “hear” those important parts of a story much clearer.

This is a shot from his workbook page. Josiah had to put his knowledge about Plot Lines to good use. He had to graph a Plot Line.

The next activity was to identify the parts of a plot using a telling of Little Red Riding Hood. This version of Little Red Riding Hood was the down and dirty one. The wolf doesn’t change his ways in this one. I was glad to see that Hewitt Homeschooling uses the real deal. 

In the Student Guide, Josiah read about how the opening of a story can spark the reader’s interest. In the Workbook, he had to come up with openings for stories about favorite books, activities and more. 

I loved that the Workbook gave clear instructions and examples. It helped him understand what was expected of him. 

Here are few examples he came up with. He was to write an opening for the following papers.
An opinion paper on your favorite book or move. 

Josiah’s answer: Is there a law for running down the street without any clothes on? I don’t know if I want to find out!

Can you believe this kid still loves No, David? Perhaps he has always seen something of himself in David.  

Here is another one. 

An instructional article on your favorite sport or activity.

Josiah’s answer: I used to be afraid that JAWS would eat me while I swam the backstroke.
I must interject. The child has never seen JAWS. 

Other assignments included rewriting a paragraph in your own words, writing from notecards, activities that identified nouns and adjectives…plus a crossword puzzle and word search. 

The Student Guide then assigned a writing exercise. These all emphasized being able to identify the elements of a Plot Line. 

We skipped Lesson Two for the time being. “Tom Sawyer” is on our read aloud list this year and I want to be able to take advantage of this study. We went on to Chapter Three, which is a lesson on Rhyme in Poetry. This chapter focuses on the poetry (from Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages) by Edward Lear. We have read many of Edward Lear’s poems. They are delightful. I think you will enjoy “The Dong with Luminous Nose.” I enjoy just saying it. It is not a poem that will leave you hooting. I feel so sorry for the Dong…still searching for his Jumbly Girl. 

My Thoughts

I have said before that any kind of Literature Reviews are tough ones for me to do. Josiah is not only dyslexic, but he is dysgraphic as well. I always want to be sure to give the author my time and attention. I also don’t want to see the product solely through what I feel my particular issues are. We are unique in what works for us. 

However, I feel like a good product with worth adapting to fit those needs. This is certainly a product that can do that. For one, it is possible for me to pace our lessons to fit Josiah’s needs. I can use audio books and I am encouraged to sit down and work with him. Something that is concerning to me as Josiah gets older is that a lot of curriculum is encouraging self-learning. I recognize that this is a vital part of maturity, but Josiah simply is there yet. There are many things he can take responsibility for, but a literature study isn’t one of them. 

The Teacher’s Guide was a blessing to have. It wasn’t merely an answer guide, but explained things beautifully. The Student Guide and Workbook are two separate books. It would have been handier to have both books together. I kept getting lost. But maybe that’s just me! 

Overall, this was a fun one. I think your student will be properly challenged, yet because the step-by-step nature of the curriculum it is easily adapted if necessary. 

Members of the TOS Crew reviewed a number of products from Hewitt Homeschooling. You can check them out by clicking the banner below. In the meantime, you can find Hewitt Homeschooling via the following social media outlets. 

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