Friday, August 1, 2014

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

Over the years, I have accumulated quite a few products from Hewitt Homeschooling, including the 7th grade curriculum, high school British Lit from the early 19th century, and the British Medieval Pack. I recently had the opportunity to review Lightning Literature and Composition World 1: Africa & Asia Student's Guide for grades 11 and 12. Because my oldest son loves Japan and his dream is to visit after graduation, I thought he might really enjoy this curriculum since once of the countries this book visits through literature is, in fact, Japan. We were also given Lightning Literature Composition World 1: Africa & Asia Teacher Guide

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

All of the student books for the older grades that are created by Hewitt Homeschooling are simply beautiful. This new one is no exception. The information contained within it is also top-notch. They provide much more than synopsis and reading comprehension questions. In this 272-page student guide, which sells for only $29.95, perspectives on the literature or the people of the area are given. This allowed my son to think beyond his own small corner of the world and gain some insight into what and how others think. Words that were likely to be new to the student in the reading selections were defined in the student guide. When my son worked through the section on Japan, he was very eager to relate to me the things he was learning. (I would have liked to have seen pronunciation guides for these words. Some words in other chapters have a guide.)

In the chapter on Japan, there is also a section that introduces the student to various international writers. I thought this reading would bore my son, but he was fascinated. Again, he shared with me the things he was learning as he read through this.

The specific countries/regions included in this curriculum are Africa, Japan, Middle East, India, Vietnam, and others. The fourth unit discusses autobiographies and allows the student to choose from a list provided in the appendix. At least five books (novels and books of poetry) need to be purchased separately or borrowed from the library to work through this curriculum. We simply purchased through Amazon and downloaded the works to the Kindle app on our tablet. While you may be hesitant to have your child work through a curriculum that includes works that are not Christian in nature, Hewitt Homeschooling does a great job teaching the student how to examine these works with a Christian worldview.

Not only is Hewitt Homeschooling interested in exposing our students to great writers from around the world and helping them to gain an appreciation for these other cultures, they want to assist our children to become great writers themselves. The subtitle on the text reads, "Acquiring College-Level Composition Skills by Responding to Great Literature." Okay, so college-level writing and great writing might not be synonymous, but college-level is probably an improvement from the writing skills they did have. More often than not, reading will enhance one's writing skills. The more one reads, especially of a wide variety of writers, the more likely one will become a better writer. Hewitt Homeschooling provides many different types of writing exercises in each chapter. For example, in the Japan chapter, there is a writing assignment that talks about first person point of view and how a scene could have been different if taken from another character's POV. The student is asked to rewrite the scene. Another discusses direct versus indirect communication. There are several exercises that require a one- to two-page essay about topics presented in the reading. Some options are based on the Japanese culture. In this chapter alone, there are 13 different options for writing assignments.

Each chapter also includes literary lessons: historical fiction, the sounds of poetry, point of view, themes in poetry, symbolism, imagery, autobiography, and tone.

The appendices provide even more options for further learning such as projects that tie the reading selections to other subjects such as history, science, language, etc. Additional reading suggestions from the selected authors and regions are provided, as well as reading recommendations for younger students. One of the appendices discusses the cultural/core values of the regions studied. There is also a breakdown of the course by semester or full-year so that the teacher does not have to create a schedule, including a way to coordinate the learning with teaching geography.

The teacher guide is a simple black-and-white, 82-page answer guide priced at $2.95 that includes a teaching schedule and grading tips.

I can't think of anything negative to say about any of the Hewitt Homeschooling products we have used. They are beautifully made and well thought out. It is obvious that a great deal of time went into creating these resources for homeschoolers, including choosing the reading selections and developing the lessons, both cultural and literary. While my son might complain about the idea of having to read certain selections or do the writing assignments, I know that he is going to increase his cultural literacy through this product. We did not have enough time to finish the course during the review period but have already decided that this will be what he uses for world literature for the coming year.

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