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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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tastes Like Summer Pie

You might be related to me if you dream of pie.

We do pie.

And while I admit that the recipe I am sharing today can't hold a candle to the towering Lemon Meringue pies my aunts make for family reunions or my Mom's chocolate is plenty tasty. And Lite!

If you are a food purist it is best to slink away right now.

This recipe takes advantaged of boxed jello and Cool Whip. There is a light at the end of your health craze tunnel. This recipes also contains yogurt.

I first enjoyed this pie at a niece's graduation party last year. My calorie conscience sister-in-law whipped a couple of these tasty treats right up. While I did enjoy that lovely (the best I've had) lemon graduation cake, I was thrilled to taste what seemed to me like summer in a pie.

Generally, I have seen this pie made with a graham cracker crust. I made this pie with a traditional crust. The sugar count is a bit lower with this one...though the graham cracker crust is really yummy.

Just a note: You will have to forgive my pictures. It helps when I don't cook in the dark (which I am apt to do). The result is that my pictures are a little dark. 

You can use whatever flavor of jello you have on hand. This is sugar free lime jello. I dissolved it in a 1/4 cup of hot water.

Then I mixed in 1 1/2 cups of yogurt...which comes out to be 2 6oz. cartons. You can use greek yogurt or whatever kind strikes your fancy. I believe this yogurt is orange flavored. Or peach. I just can't remember. You can really be clever with flavor combinations. I used what we had on hand. Which I believe is pretty clever (if I do say so myself0.

I stirred in an 8 oz. carton of Cool Whip until all of the ingredients were well blended. Then it was time to fill the pie crust (just make sure your pie crust is completely cool).

I then did a little "fluffing" with a spoon and refrigerated the pie for about an hour.

This pie could have used another hour before I served it, but we were ready for pie!! It is also greener than the picture represents. It really turned out quite pretty in real life.

Here is the recipe:

1/4 cup of hot water 
1 package (3 ounces) gelatin (I used SF), any flavor
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) yogurt (you can match it with the jello)
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 pie crust

In a large bowl, combine gelatin and hot water until dissolved. Fold in yogurt and mix. Then fold in whipped topping until completely mixed. Spread into crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour or so.

The flavor combinations are endless! I think my favorite ever has been one made with orange jello and orange cream yogurt. I also think I prefer using the Greek Yogurt. 

Hope you enjoy this Taste of Summer!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A TOS Review: Beyond the Book Report

Josiah is entering 7th grade this year. Boo! Hiss! What happened to my chubby-cheeked little boy who used to play for hours with his Action Figures?

Actually he still likes to play with Action Figures, but don’t tell him I told you so. 

Along with this grown-up sounding promotion (7th grade!) comes all kinds of new scholastic adventures. 

Primarily…the Book Report. (Da Da Dum)

A real honest to goodness Book Report. Now we have a few issues in our house. I will share more in a minute. Thankfully, I just had the opportunity to review a product from Analytical Grammar that will help navigate the Book Report waters. 

Beyond the Book Report is brand spankin’ new language arts curriculum.  It is intended for middle- schoolers as well as early-high schoolers. The recommendation is that the student starts Beyond the Book Report after he or she has completed Analytical Grammar. I am assuming that you can use Beyond the Book Report with any grammar program.

What I Received

I received 3 seasons of Beyond the Book Report. I received a DVD for each season, which include printables and Video clips of the lectures. I also received a teaching guide, examples and a glossary of each terms which can be placed in a binder.

Season One teaches literary analysis, paraphrasing, summarizing, and journalism. The student will learn to write 3 different types of book reports: a basic book report, a pamphlet book report, and a journalism book report.

Season Two teaches poetry and drama. The student will write 4 different kinds of poems based on a book they read. There is also a drama book report that teaches with A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Season Three expands on research and essay writing and includes public speaking. There is also a section on writing an SAT essay. This Season was sent to us just a blessing. This will certainly be a help on down the road! 

Beyond the Book Report is available for $24.95 per season or you can bundle all three seasons together for $69.95.  

How We Used It

Season One is all about the basic book report. It is divided into three parts: the basic book report, Pamphlet, and Journalism. 

The first assignment to watch a few of the lectures. We were encouraged to print off the lecture notes so that the student can practice those notetaking skills. Notetaking is a hard one for Josiah. He is dyslexic and dysgraphic and needs a little more time than a typical middle school lecture allows. It helped that we could stop and start the lecture. 

Josiah was given the assignment to choose a book. This was an easy task considering that I have a handy, dandy book list we are working through. Moby Dick was the choice and the next day we started to incorporate his reading log and went over his rubric. He also learned more about literary terms from the lecture video. 

The reading log is very helpful. It is not simply a way to record time read, but it helped us plan out his the reading schedule so that he would have an assignment completed on time.

All in all, the assignments for this portion of Season One were easy to understand. Josiah knew exactly what was expected of him thanks to the Rubric. I’m thinking I need a Rubric for life! That is another story!

Our unique challenge with this product was, of course, dyslexia. I had a young reader’s version of Moby Dick, but it still took longer than anticipated. Initially Josiah figured out he would need to read 18 pages a day to get through his book before assignment time. I eventually took over and made it our Read aloud book. This isn’t an issue with us. I still read aloud every day. And I certainly don’t want him to miss out on all the good stuff. He would have been able to do at a slower pace, but I needed to review the product! It did require more of my involvement than perhaps it would for a kiddo doesn’t have any reading issues. It just made the whole process a bit more complicated.

This is the finished product of Josiah's Pamphlet project. We utilized the computer. I also have to say a word about some advice the authors of Beyond the Book Report gave us. Sparknotes! Where have you been all my life (specifically when I was in college).

He was excited to find a whole page of sea life stickers in the sticker box. There weren't any white whales. He tried to tell me that perhaps we could change Moby Dick into a shark. I think someone already did that (Steven Spielberg!).

You will notice the spelling error. He didn't get very many points taken off for that one. Especially since he asked me to proof read it before he printed it off (she says as she shamefully moves to the next picture).

We had a hard time with this one. Captain Ahab is crazy (Josiah's words).

I love this. Exciting adventure! Everybody dies (except poor Ishmael)!

Season 2 is a whole different kettle of fish.  I love reading good (and pretty) poetry. I don’t especially care to know what most of it means…analyzing someone else’s morbid thoughts doesn’t sound like a good time. And I really can’t write poetry. I’m just too wordy! Imagine that. 

We obviously kept our Book Selection from Season 1 for Season 2.  It just made it easier for review purposes. 

Here is Josiah’s Haiku contribution.
Big whale in the sea
Crazy man without a leg
Just stay home in bed

Yep. He gets straight to the heart of the matter. 

We are still working towards his final Poetry Book Report. It involves poster board and I’m hoping sparkly pens and stickers. The other kinds of poetry for the project are a limerick, a sonnet and a narrative poem. It should be interesting. 

All three seasons feature a handy glossary.

What I enjoyed about Season 2 was that they supplied plenty of practice for Josiah to work through the sometimes confusing world of metaphors, similes, hyperboles and all the rest of it. I have had to help him with his time management and reading, but I think we’ll get through it. 

The Drama Book Report is yet to come. I have watched the videos and it looks like something that is going to be a lot of fun. Josiah loves to go to the theatre with me. I think he will really enjoy it.  Stay tuned for a drama staring Josiah as Captain Ahab in our living room.

My Final Thoughts

Here is the nitty gritty. Literature reviews are just plain hard for me to do. Josiah needs so much more time than we are often given. I want to be able to give my full time and attention to the product, yet his needs are paramount. 

That being said this is one of those products than can be adapted for Josiah. We just had to adjust the pace. The expectations were the same…but perhaps I had to be more involved. If you are facing the same issues I will tell you that it is possible. Just be prepared to take it slower and adapt where you need to adapt. 

One of the big advantages of Beyond the Book Report is that it can be done with any book. The concepts and skills learned are those learned are really needed. I love that the student knows what is to be expected with every assignment. I tend to do that with Josiah anyway. I might him an example (even of our notebooking pages) so he can see what it “looks” like. 

The Beyond the Book Report page has all sorts of samples for your viewing pleasure. I really think it is a good, step by step literature program. I love the lectures. They are short and yet the authors, mother and daughter duo, Robin Finley and Erin Karl, do a fantastic job. The audio quality could be improved, but overall they kept Josiah’s attention. 

You can connect with Analytical Grammar or click on the Banner below to read more reviews. 



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