Lightning Literature & Composition: Grade 8

Because my son loves literature and writing, Lightning Literature is a good fit for him and his learning style. The course readings are challenging, and there is heavy emphasis on writing. This is not a fill-in-the-blank course, and students are asked not only to comprehend the course readings, but also to analyze, research, and think.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Middle School Literature and Composition

When I first looked at the reading list for Lightning Literature & Composition: Grade 8, I was impressed with the range of choices. This program is designed to teach both literature and writing at a high school preparation level. Compared to other eighth grade programs, I would consider Lightning Lit: Grade 8 to be best suited to students who have strong reading and writing skills and who are independent learners. The curriculum includes a teacher’s guide, student guide, and student workbook. In addition to these, the other required books are the unabridged versions of the following:

Though this program does build on Lightning Literature & Composition: Grade 7, it is not a required prerequisite.

How the program works:

Lightning Literature’s teacher’s guide includes a weekly planning schedule with approximately four weeks allotted for each novel, covering a total of thirty-six weeks. Students who are not strong in grammar or who require a review of grammar skills might need a separate grammar curriculum; all students using this program will find it helpful to have a writing handbook for reference. In addition, students will need a separate vocabulary program to round out this course unless parents desire to create their own vocabulary lessons using unfamiliar words from the course readings. The author provides a list of vocabulary words for each novel in the student guide, but no further vocabulary instruction.

Because my son loves literature and writing, Lightning Literature is a good fit for him and his learning style. The course readings are challenging, and there is heavy emphasis on writing. This is not a fill-in-the-blank course, and students are asked not only to comprehend the course readings, but also to analyze, research, and think. Writing assignments are varied, as can be seen in the following examples:

Using the character you started to develop in your workbook pages, write a scene from a story with this character. Use at least three methods of character development discussed in this lesson. You can include other characters in the scene if you wish. You can also include anything you’ve already written in your workbook pages, but now everything must hang together in one scene. (p. 133)

Britain and America have many Christmas traditions. Choose between one and three of these traditions and write a research paper examining the history, symbolic meaning, and current popularity of the tradition(s). Some possibilities are Christmas trees, Christmas crackers, wreaths, hanging stockings, and mistletoe. Include at least one quote and be sure to cite any information as needed. (p. 134)

Students are given the majority of the responsibility for Lightning Literature, with guidance from the teacher. The student guide contains most of the teaching for the program and is written to the student.  There is no “script” for the teacher to follow as in other curricula. A typical lesson involves a pre-reading introduction, a reading assignment, comprehension questions, a literary lesson and mini-lesson, and workbook pages. The writing assignment follows, with the option of completing more than one if desired. The teacher’s guide includes some teaching helps, as well as the following:

  • answers key to comprehension questions
  • workbook answers
  • literary lessons, such as “Vivid Imagery in Poetry”
  • mini-lessons, such as “Rewriting Your Own Words”
  • writing exercises
  • discussion questions
  • scope and sequence

What could be improved:

I would like to have seen a few more inclusions in the teacher’s guide of Lightning Literature, such as synopses of the novels and grading rubrics for essays. Even without these additions, however, this is an excellent literature program. It is easy to use and comprehensive, leaving students well prepared for upper level courses. My favorite parts of the curriculum are the variety of writing assignments and the introductions to the novels. The author places much emphasis on the writing process, organization, and rewriting. My son’s writing improved as a result of learning to revise and proof his work, and he gained an appreciation for several new (to him) literary works.

Share this:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Comments (3)

  1. Crystal

    Thank you for sharing your curriculum, it really helps us to see what options are available and how they could work for us in a few years.

    Reply
  2. Corinne

    This sounds like a great tool for my 8th grader to use over the summer. Thanks for the detailed pros and cons!

    Reply
  3. L. E. Mastilock

    Those are some good books! I’ll keep this in mind when my kids are that age.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *