Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Hewitt Homeschooling: Lightning Literature's Shakespeare Tragedies

This summer has been an unusual one for our family in that we are continuing our school studies at full speed. Since we have experienced an unusual number of medical appointments and health issues since last fall, this school year had not proceeded as I had anticipated. For one, I had intended to incorporate some Shakespearean studies into my tenth grader's schedule--yet somehow those plans were set aside. So when the opportunity to review Hewitt Homeschooling cropped up, my tenth grader and I were thrilled to review one of their Shakespearean studies.

My daughter and I received Shakespeare: Tragedies and Sonnets, which is recommended for use by students in grades 9 through 12. I would judge this recommendation pretty accurate, though if your younger child is capable of more or you yourself want to study the Bard, there is some flexibility in this. This course may be covered in a semester or as a year's curriculum, or you may modify for your own needs. We opted to cover Hamlet for this review.

We received both the Lightning Lit Guide, which is an over-sized paperback non-consumable volume 185 pages in length as well as the Teacher Guide, which is three-hole punched and stapled and runs 51 pages in length.

So, what was included?

Student Guide ($29.95):
  • Introduction: This is meaty. It really covers the philosophy behind this program. Tips on how to read and write, including reasons why they are important. Includes tips on how to use this guide.
  • Lessons: These include the Introduction, Selection, "While You Read" questions, Plot Summary, Comprehension Questions, Literary Lessons, Writing Exercises and Perspectives.
  • Appendices: Discussion Questions and Project Suggestions, Additional Reading, Movie and Video Recommendations and Schedules
  • Suggested Optional Activities to Enhance the Study

Teacher Guide ($2.95):
  • Introduction. You, the teacher, will want to refer to the Introduction in the Student Guide as you read this section, which gives you the framework for what to do with your student.
  • Grading Tips.
  • Checklists. For grading student assignments.
  • Grading templates.
  • Suggested Schedules. One semester. One year.
  • Answers to Comprehension Questions from the Student Guide.
  • Writing Exercises.
  • Discussion Questions and Project Suggestions.

Although you may opt to purchase simply these two guides, you will need copies of these four Shakespearean tragedies: Julius Caesar, Hamlet, MacBeth, and King Lear. Although you may purchase your own editions, you may also purchase a complete pack at 10% off, for only $53.92.

What did we think? Definitely challenging, interesting and college preparatory. The Student Guide is designed to be used by the student, so some of the stress is taken off of mom, which is always nice for those of us with more children to school and more demands on our time. Although the teacher-parent really does need to read a good bit of the Student Guide as well as the Teacher Guide, the student can do much of the work on his or her own, with mom grading the work.

We opted to view one of the movies recommended by the Student Guide, and although it was a good version of Hamlet, I want my readers to be aware that for viewing the films (which do contain violence) and even discussing the mature themes introduced by Shakespeare's tragedies, I would recommend the high school age unless you have a very mature middle school student.

Hewitt Homeschooling also sells other products for students aged elementary through high school. The Lightning Literature series covers junior high through high school. Be sure to visit Hewitt Homeschooling to learn more.

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of this curriculum for review. To read further reviews of Lightning Literature or other products, be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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