Wednesday, June 12

Hewitt Homeschooling - High School Literature {Review}

Throughout elementary and middle school, we've made use of novels as a base for our unit studies. I wanted to stay with this style, but wasn't entirely sure how to bring them up to snuff for the high school level - so it was a nice surprise to find out that Hewitt Homeschooling Resources has twelve different courses available for high school that all feature novels as the base! We recently checked out American Mid-Late 19th Century, one of the secular courses that combines literature and composition instruction around eight different books.

The readings used for this course are:

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
  • selected poems from Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman)
  • Outcasts of Poker Flat (Bret  Harte)
  • Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
  • poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane)
  • poems of Emily Dickinson
  • Call of the Wild (Jack London)
The set comes with a student workbook and a teacher guide.  Four of the readings are included within the text of the student workbook, but you will need to purchase the four full-length novels (or use the library).

For Uncle Tom's Cabin (the first book of the course), he read approximately five chapters each week and completed comprehension questions.  At the end of the book, the assignment was to write a literary analysis on the book's theme.  We are using a year-long schedule, but if he were taking this course over a singular semester, the workload would be doubled (ten chapters per week, etc.)  See the difference in the schedules here.

The student workbook includes author biographies and questions to consider to preface each reading.  It also includes comprehension questions, historical background as needed, and literary lessons.  This last part was the most difficult part of instruction for our son.  The lessons cover literary analysis, focusing on things like theme, tone, perspective, humor, poetic effects, and more.  

This can be pretty heavy for a high school student, but the text breaks it down in a way that makes it a little easier to understand.  The writing assignments are typically based on how that literary lesson is demonstrated in what they just read.  As video is his best learning mode, I was able to find some YouTube videos to complement this portion of the course so that he could better understand the material.
The teacher's guide is a set of stapled papers that includes a schedule, grading tips, grading templates, and comprehension question answers.  It does not include any actual instruction, but it more of an answer key and record book.  I really like how the template for grading essays breaks it down into exactly what to be looking for and how to grade each component.  Also, the course grading sheet gives weight to each assignment and paper, making it easy for the homeschool teacher to effectively grade essays and give a fair course assessment.

Designed for the independent student, I found that our son was able to easily complete the readings and comprehension questions without issue.  There are multiple writing assignments, and our son did not complete each and every one of them, but chose a few from the selection to devote more time to completing.

There were also discussion questions that served as a jumping-off point for deeper issues...some historically-based and other that touch on current events.  We enjoyed going through the discussion questions together, and I would encourage the homeschool parent to not skip this element of the course.

Though appropriate for any high school year of literature, I think that matching this up with your American History course would help to reinforce concepts in both of the classes.  If your child is taking US History in 10th grade, that might be the best year for him to take both the American Early-Mid and American Mid-Late courses (if you're taking the semester route) or to choose one of these as your literature course (if you're taking the year-long route). 
The level of coursework is definitely college-prep, ensuring that the student will be ready and able to write multiple papers upon entering college.  We selected to do a year-long course since this was his first go-round, but will probably lean more toward the semester schedule as he gets more experience with writing compositions.  In this way, he'll be prepared for college-level writing.

In addition to the American Mid-Late 19th Century set, there are seven more secular, high school level courses.  If you choose to do an advanced pace, a student could complete all eight within the four years of high school.  At a more relaxed pace, four or five courses could be completed during high school.

The eight high school level courses that are secular in their approach (there are four Christian-based ones) are:

  • American Literature: Early - Mid 19th Century 
  • American Literature: Mid - Late 19th Century 
  • British Literature: Early - Mid 19th Century 
  • British Literature: Mid - Late 19th Century 
  • Shakespeare: Tragedies and Sonnets 
  • Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets 
  • British Medieval Literature 
  • Speech
For more information, you can check out the Table of Contents or view a sample chapter.  To see what others are saying about Hewitt Homeschooling Resources, visit the Homeschool Review Crew!
Crew DisclaimerLightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}

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