Lightning Literature Middle School

Lightning Literature's author, Elizabeth Klamath, wants students to enjoy reading. To some, the reading selection choices might seem a little light, and perhaps atypical, but there is good variety in terms of genre, and the lessons are effective vehicles for grade-level skills with thorough coverage of vocabulary, comprehension, literary elements, and writing instruction along with grammar, usage, and mechanics. To give you an idea, in Chapter 6 of the 7th grade course, Helen Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life, is covered. Lessons, in addition to the usual background, vocabulary, and comprehension, include these writing skills: lists about yourself, developing an idea, putting ideas into a paragraph, identifying resources, determining fact or opinion, identifying a biased viewpoint, and identifying sentences plus a crossword puzzle, a word search and an extra challenge exercise on autobiography and culture.

In each course, there are 36 weekly lessons grouped into chapters. There are eight chapters in Grade 7 and twelve in Grade 8, one for each of the major pieces of literature that are studied throughout the year, but the chapters do not necessarily correspond to a specific time period. For instance, in the 7th grade course, Chapter 5 is covered in two weeks, Chapter 6 in four weeks, Chapter 7 in two weeks, and Chapter 8 in nine weeks. There is a consistent pattern in the chapter contents, however: Introduction (to the literary work), While You Read (what to look for), Vocabulary List, Comprehension Questions, Literary Lesson, Mini-Lesson (writing lesson), and Writing Exercises.

There are 8-12 exercises per chapter, in seven different coded types - L for literary lessons, M relating to mini-lessons, C practicing composition skills, T for thinking skill pages, G exercises that review grammar and mechanics, P for puzzles, and E for extra-challenge (the last two being the optional ones). There's a nice variety in these exercises and a well-thought-out relationship between the literary and composition activities. Frankly, I like the step-by-step skill building that is integral to the course.

The Student Book includes instructional text, shorter works (i.e. poetry, excerpts), author background, discussion questions (comprehension, thought, literary), and writing exercises. The Teacher Guide provides answers, schedules, teaching/grading tips, rubrics, project suggestions/checklists, and grade-tracking records.

There are required literature resources to use with each course. While you may be able to locate some or all of the books at a library, we also offer Literature Packages for each guide that include the necessary books.

If your goal is to prepare your student for high school literature and composition skills, then Lightning Lit & Comp is a good, solid choice. Although there is a conservative moral "feel" to the series and an occasional mention of God (by authors Stephen Crane and Mark Twain, for instance), there is no obvious Christian content. ~ Janice


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