It's 1967 and as if starting 7th grade wasn't bad enough, Holling Hoodhood is left alone with Mrs. Baker a teacher he's sure hates his guts every Wednesday afternoon when the rest of his class is dismissed for Hebrew school or Catechism. And not only is he left sitting with the teacher, she starts assigning him Shakespeare Shakespeare! then giving him huge quizzes on each play! It's so unfair! Although he's sure she's out to get him, he finds himself actually enjoying the plays, which leads to him memorizing his favorite lines, which leads to a part in a community theater production and wearing yellow feathers on his, well, never mind. In fact, those Wednesday afternoons lead to quite a few surprising discoveries about himself, Shakespeare, and the people in his life even Mrs. Baker. Told from Holling's endlessly entertaining point of view, this is one of those books you don't want to end! A Newbery Honor book, by Gary D. Schmidt. 264 pgs, pb. Jess
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.
While there is a decided emphasis in Lightning Literature on enjoying and understanding the literature, the program is also decidedly comprehensive in its grammar and usage coverage and just plain expectant in its composition assignments. A Teacher Guide, a Student Workbook, and lots of classic (along with some contemporary) children's literature are the components for the program.
Literature selections for Grade 6 include: Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Wednesday Wars, Pax, Long Walk to Water, Yellow Star, Roll of Thunder; Hear My Cry, and The Wind in the Willows. Poetry selections are included in the Student Workbook.
The Teacher Guide is the heart of the program and is necessary. It's here that the general flavor of the program is most obvious including its orientation toward teacher-student interaction rather than independent student work. Detailed daily instructions are written in first person to the parent/teacher. The flexibility built into the program is reiterated often with examples of how to adapt the teaching instructions for students who are sluggish or need extra challenge. Weekly schedules have a basic structure. Each day includes literature study, grammar/mechanics study, and work on the weekly composition assignment. All workbook answers are provided in the Teacher Guide
The Student Workbook includes some instructional material but are essentially consumable worktexts. Most of the grammar exercises are included here along with space to write thoughts about the reading selection (i.e. Reading Journal Pages: What this Story is About, What I Think of this Story, and My Favorite Sentence). The books are colorful and appealing. Literature Only Packages include all the literature selections needed for the course. The Grade 6 Full Year Package includes all the literature plus the Teacher Guide and Student Workbook.
Lightning Literature & Composition utilizes a “read-through-books-multiple-times-a-week” methodology in the lowest grades. It continues through the grade levels with a focus on literature appreciation as well as a loving, gentle introduction to language arts. The goal throughout the series is developing a love of great literature. Maturing to solid, literature-based grammar and writing lessons, this series is excellent on all fronts.
Literature selections are varied and inspired, including classic, contemporary, and award-winning options. Grammar instruction presents, reviews, and builds through the grade levels, incorporating diagramming after 1st grade. Students are encouraged to write a wide variety of compositions with instruction in the writing process and forms of writing always weaving in the grammar applications. But, this never gets in the way of enjoying the story. There is, in fact, an amazing amount of seamless interweaving of the literature, grammar, and composition threads.
You might be wondering about the role of phonics/reading instruction in this program. To put it simply, it's not included. There seems to be an underlying assumption that the student is reading at grade level and that phonics instruction is underway (or completed).
The basic components of the program are a user-friendly Teacher Guide, a colorful and appealing Student Workbook and lots of well-loved literature. The early grades include extra read-aloud stories/books. (i.e. Aesop's Fables in Grade 1; Winnie the Pooh and Just So Stories in Grade 2). Poetry is included (after 1st grade) drawn from the Random House Book of Poetry for Children in grades 2-3 and included in the Student Workbook in grades 4-6.
The Teacher Guide is the heart of the program even though much of the instruction comes through the Student Workbook. While there is little teacher prep that is necessary, the courses are based on teacher-student interaction and the Teacher Guide is absolutely necessary. It provides weekly overviews, daily lesson plans, and answers to workbook pages.
There are 36 weekly lessons; each with daily instruction for Monday through Thursday (Friday is a day off). Lessons in Grade 1 are each based on a well-loved children's picture book. In Grade 2, the lessons start with picture books but in the last third of the year move into chapter books which are studied over a multi-week schedule. Upper levels cover chapter books over several weeks (anywhere from 2 to 6).
Daily instruction includes three segments: literature, grammar & mechanics, and composition. Compositions are assigned weekly with daily guidance towards completion. Daily composition segments lead the student through the writing process including brainstorming, ordering, rough drafts, and final drafts. The variety of writing assignments includes creative writing, essays of all sorts (description, personal, opinion, etc.), research paper, and poems. There is a constant emphasis on remembering that the goal is to love literature and language arts with suggestions for adapting the lessons to the needs of your student. Each week ends with suggestions for extending the lesson. Handwriting instruction and practice can be incorporated into each lesson as desired/needed.
The Student Workbooks include instruction and serve as a consumable worktext. Artwork, illustrations, and graphics are all related to the week’s literature assignments. Appendices vary with the grade level books but tend to include helpful reference and resource information.
"Reading should be fun, and writing should be satisfying." The author of this series believes this, and she has produced courses that try to keep that goal ever present. She WANTS students to enjoy themselves! Accordingly, reading assignments are comfortable - two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stories and several poems for the 7th grade course, for instance. Lessons are well-constructed and the excellent and thorough coverage includes vocabulary, comprehension, literary elements, composition, grammar, and mechanics.
The three components of this program are designed to be complementary and to be used together. The Student Workbook is the student's textual companion as they study the literature selections. This consumable book 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.
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.
The last component is the excellent Literature Selections that are the heart of the program. Classics, familiar, non-familiar, poetry, and, occasionally, surprising choices all find their way onto the book lists for each grade level. 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. You and your student are encouraged to read, enjoy, and profit from the year's literature studies. ~ Janice