Lightning Literature & Composition American Christian Literature Student Guide
Students read in the following order:
- Anne Bradstreet (poetry, text in this Guide: To My Dear and Loving Husband, Another, As weary pilgrim, now at rest, By night when others soundly slept, Upon the Burning of Our House)
- Henri Nouwen (nonfiction:Can You Drink the Cup?)
- Walker Percy (nonfiction, text in this Guide: "Another Message in a Bottle")
- Madeleine L'Engle (nonfiction:A Circle of Quiet)
- Wendell Berry (poetry, text in this Guide: "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, The Way of Pain, A Meeting, We Who Prayed and Wept, In the Motel Parking Lot, Thinking of Doctor Williams, Enemies, and "Come Forth)
- Frederick Buechner (novel:Godric)
- Flannery O'Connor (short story, text on the Internet: "The Artificial Nigger")
- Elisabeth Elliot (novel:No Graven Image)
All works are by Christian authors and are a mixture of literature on specifically Christian ideas and literature on more general themes. Lessons cover skills for college-level writinggiving poetry a close reading, writing a basic essay, reading to respond, and writing a literary essayas well as tools for approaching College-level thinking from a biblical perspectiveincluding a Christian approach to the tension between art and message, a biblical response to sin in literature, analyzing the worldview in literature, and finding a basis for identifying and evaluating ideas. For example, Another Message in the Bottle by Walker Percy is used to teach reading to respond and The Artificial Nigger by Flannery OConnor is used to teach analyzing the worldview in literature.
The Student's Guide includes comprehension questions, writing exercises, discussion questions and project suggestions, additional reading lists, semester and full-year schedules, and bibliography. The answers to comprehension questions are in the Teacher's Guide.
Recommendations: This course is especially recommended for juniors and seniors, students interested in cultural issues, who are studying modern history, and who are interested in these authors and works. These should not be viewed as restrictions; this course can profitably be used by high-school students of any grade regardless of which previous Lightning Literature courses they have completed. It is also strongly recommended that families choosing this guide commit to parent-student discussion on the issues raised, as the Guide and the literature handle serious topics including racism, sexuality, and spiritual matters. The goal is to help students prepare for serious challenges, in college and life. Generally speaking, this course is more difficult than all the other Lightning Literature courses except the Shakespeare courses and the British Medieval course. Much depends on student interest in the material.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
"Reading should be fun, and writing should be satisfying." The author of this series believes this, and she has produced a course that tries to keep that goal ever present. She wants the students to enjoy themselves! Accordingly, reading assignments are not as strenuous as in some courses - two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stories and several poems for the 7th grade course, for instance. However, the lessons are well-constructed and coverage of vocabulary, comprehension, literary elements, and writing instruction is thorough.
The three components of this program are designed to be complementary for use together. The Student Book is the student's textual companion as they study the literature selections. 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.
The consumable Student Workbook is the place for the student to "do" their work. It provides worktext space for all the essential exercises as well as some optional fun/reinforcement 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 worktext.
The Teacher Guide is the "glue" that holds the whole program together providing a philosophical and methodical overview of the program and a weekly planning schedule (lesson plans) as well as chapter-by-chapter answers and teaching helps.
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. 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.
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
Written directly to the student, well-organized, user-friendly (no teacher prep), and both traditional and diverse in the reading selections, these courses offer quality literary analysis coupled with step-by-step writing instruction. Assignments are thought-provoking and challenging.
Lessons follow a pattern: Introduction, (information about the reading) Selection, While You Read, Comprehension Questions, Literary Lessons, and Writing Exercises. Suggested activities enhance the studies: Vocabulary Notebook, Reading Journal, Biographies, Family Reading or Writing Nights, Oral Summaries, Writing Group, and (perhaps) Movies.
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.
The twelve semester-long courses are listed in order of difficulty. Most students should start with one of the American Lit courses. There are required literature resources to use with each guide. While you may be able to locate some or all of the books at a library, we also offer packages for each guide that include the necessary books.