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Lightning Lit vs Windows to the World?

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If you are familiar with both, could you contrast them for me? I'm thinking WTTW is shorter selections, not whole books -- is that correct? What about the approach to interpreting literature? Expectations/assignments? Thanks! Trying to figure out lit for my 8th grader...

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Let's see...


Yes, WttW focuses on short stories (short complete works), while LL uses a mix of full-length works, short stories, poems, etc.


WttW goes much more in depth with each work studied as it really walks kids through beginning literary analysis, including writing papers with a thesis, textual support, and conclusion. LL glosses through works more quickly, simply offering a bit of background information, a brief discussion of some literary concept, some workbook pages at the 7th and 8th grade level (none in the high school levels), and some very fluffy and undirected writing assignments.


I actually like LL7 and 8 as a very beginning level literature course. It's light enough that you can add in plenty of additional reading, history-related or otherwise... There's a nice mix of kinds of works -- just a good selection overall... I think the writing instruction is basically non-existent. The literary concepts introduced are pretty basic -- but I think they're appropriate for 5th-8th grades (depending on the student).


WttW is definitely a step up in difficulty from LL7 and 8. It requires more writing and deeper thinking, even if the reading selections are shorter. (Again, you have plenty of time to assign longer works.) It's a good step *after* LL7 and 8 -- for strong 8th graders or for 9th-10th grades.


I was much less impressed by the high school LL courses we used. They don't offer much support for understanding or interpreting works, the introductory materials are brief and shallow, the discussions are minimal at best, there's zero writing instruction, and the writing assignments aren't remotely appropriate for high school level. ... Basically, I liked the list of works studied for the levels we did, but I could have pulled something better together on my own just using Google. Ahem.

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Agree entirely with abbeyej! :)


FWIW, below are a few thoughts on the two programs. Like abbeyej, we used the 2 middle school LL programs and found them an excellent match for beginning literary analysis, and then used WttW in high school as a good "next step". After looking at high school levels of LL, I passed on them in favor of more meaty individual literature guides, google searchs, and doing our own more in-depth WTM-style Literature. BEST of luck, whatever you decide! Warmest regards, Lori D.



Windows to the World

One semester program for grades 9-12; can be turned into a full-year program for high school by purchasing the syllabus for the additional material. (Can be done as-is as a full year program by an advanced 8th grader.) In-depth focus on 6 short stories (which are included in the program). Written to the student; does require some input from the parent, for discussion, overseeing teaching/explanations, and grading of exercises and writing assignments. Good amount of help from the teacher book. Focuses on teaching annotation, use of those annotations as support in literary analysis, how to write a literary analysis essay, and then covers 8-10 specific literary elements. Includes exercises and writing assignments. Solid program; the "next step up" from the introductory middle school levels of LL, and more "meat" than the high school levels of LL. While the student will be able to apply the techniques learned to other types of Literature, WttW only covers short stories, while LL also covers novels, poetry, etc.



WttW -- scope and sequence


Unit 1-2

- literary lesson: annotation

- short story: "Gift of the Magi"

- short story: "The Most Dangerous Game"


Unit 3-4

- literary lesson: allusion

- 3 exercises: allusion

- literary lesson: plot and suspense

- exercise: plot analysis


Unit 5-6

- literary lesson: how to write a literary analysis essay

- writing assignment: essay on suspense

- literary lesson: parallelism, euphemism, simile


Unit 7-8

- literary lesson: characterization

- short story: "The Necklace"

- exercise: characterization

- writing assignment: essay on The Necklace

- literary lesson: symbolism and emphasis

- exercise: symbolism in a poem


Unit 9-10

- literary lesson: theme and worldview

- exercise: finding theme

- short story: "A Jury of Her Peers"

- writing assignment: essay on Jury of Her Peers

- literary lesson: setting

- exercise: setting and character


Unit 11-12

- literary lesson: imagery

- short story: "Fight with a Cannon"

- exercise: language analysis

- literary lesson: point of view

- exercise: changing point of view


Unit 13-14

- literary lesson: tone

- 3 exercises: tone

- literary lesson: irony

- short story: "The Open Window"

- 2 exercises: irony



Lightning Literature

Covers a range of literature: poetry, novels, a novella, short stories, and biography. The grade 7 and grade 8 LL programs are full year programs, written to the student, and include workpages to help the student put into practice the literary lesson learned for the unit. The second half of LL8 increases some in literary analysis, with the work pages including excerpts from other works to begin practicing analysis on a short passage from a classic work. Does not require much from the parent, other than grading work and occasional guided discussion questions (in the teacher manual).


Those who have had some literary analysis in the past find LL7 and LL8 "lite" in instruction and feel the reading schedule is too slow. For those who have no previous background in classic literature and literary analysis, LL7 and LL8 are gentle and helpful introductions to classic literature and literary analysis, with each unit focusing on a single literary device/topic.


The program has a student book (where the "meat" of the program is), and a teacher book with answers, a schedule, some teaching tips, and some discussion questions. The Student Book has 2 parts:


1. Student Guide (LL7=8 units; LL8=12 units) each unit contains:

- a page intro about each author, and tips on what to look for as you read.

- vocabulary list with definitions to make reading the book easier.

- comprehension questions to help student focus on key details.

- 6-10 teaching text pages (written to the student) about a literary element and examples of how that literary element is used in the work being read to go with that unit.

- a 2-3 page "mini-writing lesson" with information/tips on various aspects of writing (examples: how to cite sources; how to take notes; etc.)

- choice from 4-8 longer writing assignment ideas for finishing up each unit


2. Workpages Section contains:

- 8-10 worksheets per unit to help student practice the literary element, occasional grammar aspect (punctuation, capitalization, etc.), or beginning analysis of an excerpt from literature.

- Sometimes a short story or a segment of a longer work is reproduced for the student to read/analyze.


No personal experience with the high school levels of LL, but each is a one semester program, and they do NOT have work pages. From the online samples, they don't appear to go much more in depth than the middle school programs.


LL8 -- scope and sequence


1. "A Crazy Tale" (short story)

literary lesson: author's purpose

mini writing lesson: taking notes


2. Treasure Island (adventure novel)

literary lesson: setting

mini writing lesson: rewriting in your own words


3. poetry unit -- 6 poems

literary lesson: vivid imagery

mini writing lesson: free verse and the ballads


4. A Day of Pleasure (autobiography)

literary lesson: sharing your culture

mini writing lesson: rewriting in your own words


5. "Wakefield" (short story)

literary lesson: details in writing

mini writing lesson: citing sources in a paper


6. A Christmas Carol (novella)

literary lesson: character development

mini writing lesson: the narrator


7. poetry unit -- 8 poems

literary lesson: figurative language

mini writing lesson: fun poems


8. The Hobbit (fantasy)

literary lesson:conflict

mini writing lesson: genre fiction


9. "Reflections" (short story)

literary lesson: symbolism

mini writing lesson: sentence structure


10. My Family and Other Animals (humorous novel)

literary lesson: humor

mini writing lesson: bibliography


11. poetry unit -- 8 poems

literary lesson: meter in poetry

mini writing lesson: the sonnet


12. To Kill a Mockingbird (realistic novel)

literary lesson: writing a literary analysis

mini writing lesson: writing a conclusion

Edited by Lori D.
doh! let's try and get the name of previous poster RIGHT!!
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My son did LL7 in 6th grade, LL8 in 7th, and we're planning WTTW for 8th grade. Seems like this progression will work nicely based on what you're saying, thanks for the preview on WTTW! We did enjoy both of the middle school LL courses, and I think my son is ready for the 'step up' that WTTW represents.

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