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Lightning Lit questions

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Dd will be in 8th grade next year and I am thinking ahead to options for literature. She has participated in Ctr for Lit discussions for the past two years, but I would like to add in more detailed study for next year.

 

Is it too much to jump into LL8 without having done LL7? I am not as concerned about the comprehension/analysis as I am about the writing requirements. Are there shorter assignments in LL8 or is it all essays? Another option that I've considered is Essentials in Literature, but I really like the selections of 'whole' books used in LL. Of course, I'm open to any and all suggestions for a gentle introduction to literary terms / analysis.

 

 

 

 

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We've done both LL7 and LL8. You would be fine starting with LL8, esp. since you've already been doing Center for Lit. discussions for 2 years. In fact, your DD may feel LL8 is "lite" if she's already been doing some meaty analysis (I'm not familiar with what the Center for Lit. discussions cover or how deep the analysis is).

 

The first half of LL8 is very similar to LL7 in "speed" and in the literature topics covered in each unit's "literary lesson". The second half of LL8 is when the work pages really start getting in to beginning analysis of excerpts of Literature, and then a short story or two (all of which is additional to the work of literature covered in each unit -- but those extra excerpts and short story are included in the work pages.) At the end of each unit there is a choice of 3-4 different ideas for writing assignments, and you can make them as long/short as you wish. There are a total of 12 units in LL8 (3 short stories, 3 poetry units, and 6 longer works).

 

If, after looking at the samples (see links to samples here), you think LL is too lite for DD, other options that use complete works include Excellence in Literature; or, perhaps Windows to the World, a 1-semester high school program that covers 6 short stories, but spread out out over 1 year, and intersperse with novels of high interest to your DD and use some individual lit. guides to go with those titles to facilitate going deeper. :)

 

There is also the fairly recent high school lit. series: Illuminating Literature, by Sharon Watson (who also published the Jump In and Power in Your Hand writing programs). So far she has When Worlds Collide and Characters in Conflict. These cover complete works, rather than excerpts. In looking at the works covered, some of them would be a real stretch for the average 8th grader. If you have a strong/advanced reader, then one of these these might be an option.

 

One more option that is a very gentle intro to formal literature, BUT is very different, is Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings (LLftLotR), a year-long study of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are some fill-in-the-blank comprehension and vocabulary work pages that are busy work, but the "meat" of the program is found in the notes for every single chapter, plus the discussion questions that follow the chapter notes, AND, the 12 additional units of material on a range of related literature topics. If your student is a fan of the trilogy, 8th grade would be a good year to go for this option, and consider adding in a few of the suggested additional works (Beowulf, an epic [Odyssey or Illiad], a Shakespeare play [Macbeth or Midsummer Night's Dream], or a King Arthur work [sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for example]).

 

See more: LLftLotR websitetable of contents, samples.

Edited by Lori D.

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Thank you so much, Lori. This answers my questions about LL AND gives me lots of options to ponder!

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Just to throw out another option:

Essentials in Writing has a newish literature course (Essentials in Literature). I don't have any experience with it, though.

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Just to throw out another option:

Essentials in Writing has a newish literature course (Essentials in Literature). I don't have any experience with it, though.

 

Thank you! Yes, I have considered that, but they only study one novel per grade (at least in Jr. High). Dd and I both prefer to study more whole books and she has already read the 8th grade selection anyway. It does look like an interesting program, though. We are actually using parts of their writing program this year to work on some specific skills.

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...

There is also the fairly recent high school lit. series: Illuminating Literature, by Sharon Watson (who also published the Jump In and Power in Your Hand writing programs). So far she has When Worlds Collide and Characters in Conflict. These cover complete works, rather than excerpts. In looking at the works covered, some of them would be a real stretch for the average 8th grader. If you have a strong/advanced reader, then one of these these might be an option.

 

...

 

Lori, may I ask a question about these programs: I see they are advertised as Christian.  Do you have a sense at all of how lightly or heavily this element runs through?  I'm trying to figure out whether I could use the student materials, if we draw from this.  My main concern is not to alienate my agnostic child from Christianity; some of his books have been too heavy-handed and tended to close him off from the faith. 

 

I know this a vague question that will depend on the particular family!  but really respect your opinions. 

 

ETA: also: do you find that these programs (or some of them, maybe) have a definite advantage over Well-Trained Mind style literature study for these same grades (with the inclusion of, say, Figuratively Speaking, or even without it)?  Or maybe an advantage for particular types of students/families?

Edited by serendipitous journey

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Lori, may I ask a question about these programs: I see they are advertised as Christian.  Do you have a sense at all of how lightly or heavily this element runs through?  I'm trying to figure out whether I could use the student materials, if we draw from this.  My main concern is not to alienate my agnostic child from Christianity; some of his books have been too heavy-handed and tended to close him off from the faith...

 

Yes, you are right, all the ones I listed are by Christian authors -- I should have mentioned that as part of the "thumbnail review" I provided -- sorry about forgetting that.

 

No personal experience with Excellence in Literature or Illuminating Literature (Sharon Watson). I have used Sharon Watson's Jump In writing program for gr. 5-8, and there are some moments of strongly Christian elements, which could be marked out, and I would *guess* that her lit. programs are similar -- but you'll need to hear from someone who has used them to know for sure.

 

I've used Lightning Lit. 7 and 8, and as far as I can remember, both were pretty non-religious in presentation. I don't know about the high school programs -- my assumption would be that they are similar. (However, obviously these 2 LL programs -- Christian British Authors and Christian American Authors -- are directly addressing Christian themes and ideas in the works. ;) )

 

I've also used Windows to the World. That one is a bit more problematic to use secularly. From what I recall, the Christian parts are:

- the introduction, in which the author states her own Christian faith and that she comes from a Christian worldview

- a chapter on allusions/references, with an exercise on Biblical allusions -- you could skip it, or, I know several secular families who used it and were fine with this chapter, and were able to discuss how frequently Biblical allusions -- as well as allusions from Greek epics & myths and Shakespeare -- show up in our popular culture, movies, other literature, etc.

- and a chapter on worldview, which distinctly presents Christian worldview (the chapter is used as way of understanding the literary element of theme, and could be skipped)

For more on WttW check out these past threads:

"Windows to the World: how much religious content?"

"What lit analysis instruction do you recommend?" -- posts #6-14 address the Christian/secular aspects of WttW

 

 

Other secular Literature options:

- McDougal-Littell Language of Literature: gr. 6 student textbook & teacher edition  / gr. 7 student & TE  /  gr. 8 student & TE

- Mosdos Press -- lit. anthology series, character-building themes without religious content: Pearl (gr. 6), Jade (gr. 7), Gold (gr. 8), Cathy Duffy review

- Oak Meadow -- English 7English 8; Hero's Journey (gr. 8-10)

- Brave Writer -- Boomerang lit. guide set (gr. 7-9), or online Arrow (gr. 5-7) or Boomerang (gr. 7-9) book club classes 

- Michael Clay Thompson -- literature trilogies

- K-12 -- Literary Analysis & Composition -- hard to tell; probably greatly depends on the student, but I'd guess this is for gr. 8-10

 

Secular guides to go with individual books:

- Glencoe Literature Library guides (free)

Penguin  teacher guides (free)

- Garlic Press Publishers Discover Literature challenger level guides (not free)

- Portals to Literature guides (not free)

 

 

ETA: also: do you find that these programs (or some of them, maybe) have a definite advantage over Well-Trained Mind style literature study for these same grades (with the inclusion of, say, Figuratively Speaking, or even without it)?  Or maybe an advantage for particular types of students/families?

 

I can only speak for myself and explain what I did and why, and how it worked for us -- I haven't thought enough about "big picture" to come up with advantages/disadvantages for particular types of students/families. ;)

 

I am very strong in Literature background and in naturally analyzing/thinking about/discussing literature, and I still found it very helpful with DSs to start off (toddlers through about grade 6) with tons of "just reading" -- me reading aloud, buddy reading, and having DSs solo reading -- and appreciating it, with very occasional questions or pointing things out or discussing *as it naturally came up*. 

 

In high school we did a mostly WTM-style lit. study, but used some individual lit. guides to help provide background info on the work and ideas of questions to springboard us into discussion. We used guides more frequently earlier in high school, and far less by later high school, as DSs "had their feet under them" by that time, and we didn't need as much "idea sparking" to get us going.

 

To transition from the pre-school/elementary "just reading" into the high school "WTM-style" for literature, I found that a few lit. programs were helpful for us, to gently expose us to literary elements (Figuratively Speaking and Walch Toolbox: Prose and Poetry), and to move into beginning gentle analysis (LL7, LL8 and Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings). During 9th/10th grades, we spread out the units of the 1-semester Windows to the World program to help "fill in the gaps". After that, we were flying solo.

 

DSs were extremely laconic and it was initially like pulling teeth to get them to look deeper into the lit. and discuss, so that's why gentle intro literature programs were very useful for *us*, even though *I* did not need them for me. I did glean a lot of helpful info from some of those programs and guides, so that's why I tend to suggest them for parents, even those who are very comfortable with leading literature -- it just provides background and teaching info and ideas you might not have had, plus suggestions for resources, writing assignments, and for making other connections. :)

 

BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.

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One more option that is a very gentle intro to formal literature, BUT is very different, is Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings (LLftLotR), a year-long study of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are some fill-in-the-blank comprehension and vocabulary work pages that are busy work, but the "meat" of the program is found in the notes for every single chapter, plus the discussion questions that follow the chapter notes, AND, the 12 additional units of material on a range of related literature topics. If your student is a fan of the trilogy, 8th grade would be a good year to go for this option, and consider adding in a few of the suggested additional works (Beowulf, an epic [Odyssey or Illiad], a Shakespeare play [Macbeth or Midsummer Night's Dream], or a King Arthur work [sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for example]).

 

See more: LLftLotR website, table of contents, samples.

Lori,

Can I ask your opinion on using this for a 7th grader? He'd be turning 13 a couple months into the school year and he's been reading Tolkien for four years already. Recently, all he's been reading is a dozen or so Tolkien books in rotation. This past year, he's become really lazy with his school work, rushing through to get done so he can move on to what he wants to do. This intrigues me as a "hook" to at least get him interested in this subject.

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Lori,

Can I ask your opinion on using this for a 7th grader? He'd be turning 13 a couple months into the school year and he's been reading Tolkien for four years already. Recently, all he's been reading is a dozen or so Tolkien books in rotation. This past year, he's become really lazy with his school work, rushing through to get done so he can move on to what he wants to do. This intrigues me as a "hook" to at least get him interested in this subject.

 

As long as he is not the type who would feel that digging into a favorite book/author would "ruin it" for him, go for it! I would recommend dropping the "busy work" of the fill-in-the-blank comprehension questions and vocabulary practice & quizzes, as that is very likely to detract from the enjoyment of the study, and it sure doesn't sound like he would need it. You might check out the samples of LLftLotR *with* DS and see what he thinks.

 

Also, check out this lengthy thread with loads of ideas all through it for extensions for a Tolkien study: "xpost: Any serious Tolkien fans??" A few ideas from that thread:

- be inspired by Tolkien's own artwork: Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (by Hammond)

- try Tolkien calligraphy: Tengwar Calligraphy

- create your own map (or atlas with a series of maps) and/or timeline (see Middle Earth maps at Encyclopedia of Arda3 Ri.ngsLord of the Rings ProjectTimeline of the One Ring)

- walk and talk about LotR with the Walk to Rivendell Challenge

- create your own miniature hobbit hole -- Instructables how-to

- see how Medieval illustrated manuscripts were made 

- make foods from Middle Earth Recipes

 

Also check out this past thread with more Tolkien resources: "Tolkien question", which includes links to these resources:

- Peter Kreeft audio lecture: "Christianity in Lord of the Rings"

- Peter Kreeft audio series: "Ten Uncommon Insights into Evil from Lord of the Rings"

- Cory Olson: Mythgard audio lectures on The Hobbit

 

Also, these free, short guides from Houghton-Mifflin have some good questions for thinking/discussing, or that could be writing prompts to substitute for many of the weak writing ideas in LLftLotR:

The Hobbit Educator's Guidelesson plans

Fellowship of the Ring - discussion prompts

The Two Towers - discussion prompts

Return of the King - discussion prompts

 

AND, go even further in-depth with the great lectures by Cory Olsen at Mythgard.

Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

Return of the King

 

 

Can you tell that I'm a bit of a fanatic?! ;) I've twice had the joy and privilege of leading a year-long Lord of the Rings Lit. & Comp. study of my own design with our homeschool co-op, and am looking forward to doing it a third time in 2019-2020!  :w00t: 

 

The first time I did it was with gr. 7-12 and one of the best students was the youngest, Last time I did it, I did a full high school credit class with some Medieval lit., and then a slightly simplified version of just LotR with 12-13yos -- the middle schools did GREAT and really enjoyed the books and discussing the books. BEST of luck, and enjoy your journey through middle earth! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.

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Thank you so much! What great resources. I actually showed it to him tonight after I had time to sit down and look at it and he got really excited. I think we'll go for it!

Edited by Kathryn

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Thank you so much! What great resources. I actually showed it to him tonight after I had time to sit down and look at it and he got really excited. I think we'll go for it!

 

Have fun! The chapter notes are interesting, and the 12 units were very enjoyable. LLftLotR was a high interest curriculum and one of the all-time favorites here! :)

 

And, you can spread the units out over more than one year, if you like. You can also read the books/do the chapter notes faster or slower than the 1-year schedule of the book. Adjust to fit your interests! :)

Edited by Lori D.

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