Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Institute for Excellence in Writing/ Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization (Review)

As you may have noticed over the years (if you've been reading my blog for years...) that I am a fan of Andrew Pudewa, and the Institute for Excellence in Writing. We have been blessed to review many of IEW's products over the years, and have purchased a few besides, so I was very excited to be on the review for the newly revised, 2nd edition of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization. The Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization set includes a teacher's manual, a folio of audio cds, and one of Andrew Pudewa's conference talk Nurturing Competent Communicators on DVD.

I appreciate poetry, but sometimes haven't made as much time for it in our daily life as I would like. This program helps, but addresses so much more than simply "poetry."

So, how exactly does linguistic development through poetry memorization make a difference, you ask? Good question! :) Here are some of the basic premises:

  • Poetry offers extensive vocabulary
  • Poetry is highly organized and patterned which means that 
  • Poetry is somewhat easier to memorize, because of the rhythm and rhyme, as well as the typically interesting subject matter
  • Poems are "highly concentrated," filled with snippets of rich, colorful language, which often has the effect of distilling a large concept into a smaller, thought-provoking package. 
  • Poetry memorization is, scientifically, a boon to the neurological health of the brain (The more you memorize, the more neurons make connections, the healthier and stronger your brain)! 
The poems in this program are split into 4 levels of 19 poems with a spot for a "personal selection" bringing the total of poems learned in each level to 20. The poems vary widely in length, content, author, and style throughout each level, which adds to the interest level for the student.

The fifth and final level encompasses excerpts (mostly) from 20 speeches, spanning works from Plato all the way to a selection from modern day Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese founder of the National League for Democracy.
The Teacher's Manual and CD's come in this lovely folio box...
I put the optional printed/ bound Student book in the bottom so you could see everything we received! 
A closer look:

Teacher's Manual
The Teacher's Manual includes 21 pages of Introduction which cover the concept behind the program, and instructions on how to go about using it. Following that, it includes the text of all 96 poems and speeches with occasional literary notes, Author Biographies, and Lesson Enhancements. It also comes with access to download a Student e-book and six more Andrew Pudewa audio mp3s:
  • Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
  • Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding
  • On Listening
  • On Speaking
  • On Reading
  • On Writing
The accompanying CD's are recordings of Andrew Pudewa's excellent recitations of the poems, which can be used to introduce the poem, as an aide to learning the poem (For those who memorize better through auditory channels), and as an example of recitation with feeling rather than rote recitation. If you have used any of IEW's writing materials that make use of Andrew Pudewa's recorded classes, your children will definitely recognize his distinctive voice! :)

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization uses the same methodology that is used in the Suzuki method of music, and if you've ever used the Navigators Scripture Memory system, it is also similar ~ mastery through repetition and review. Research shows that the more you memorize and review, the easier it will become to memorize and retain information. To this end, each section comes with a plan and a chart to record daily progress in memorization and review. By the time you reach the 4th level your child will daily be reciting each poem learned in the current level, with a "maintenance" schedule of 3 additional poems from the previous levels. Although this might sound like it will take up a ton of time, it really isn't bad (if you have a number of children, you could have them alternate their recitations, starting with a different child each day, expecting that they will be saying the words silently in their heads when their siblings are reciting the other poems).

Student Book
The student book comes as a printable ebook, as I mentioned above, or as an optional purchased, spiral bound workbook. As a bonus the Crew were sent this as well. The book comes with forms to keep track of where your child is, as well as pictures to color, which can be fun, and/or helpful if you have a kinesthetic learner. 
You can see that I took advantage of my printer's extra capabilities and printed my kids' copies in booklet form. None of my kids are particularly kinesthetic learners, so the coloring page aspect of the Student Book wasn't a huge draw for them (although they did enjoy the illustrations... just didn't want to color them), so the smaller, booklet form was fine for them, and was also a "different" shape, which made it easier to locate amongst school paraphernalia.  

Andrew Pudewa never disappoints, and always has something to catch my attention in his talks. You can check out samples of his talks on the IEW website, as well as samples from this entire program.

My youngest has greatly enjoyed using this, and we will be continuing it beyond the review period, for sure! He is has a great aptitude for Scripture memory, but this is something different and he looks forward to learning new poems. In fact, he will randomly start reciting his poems throughout the day/week. What fun! Two Thumbs up from our family!!

Here is a video of youngest reciting the majority of the poems that he has memorized thus far (working on one poem per week on average). He did not include the first poem, because oddly enough, what is hysterical to most kids makes mine go "Ewwwww." ;) They memorized it, but don't tend to recite it (check out the "Ooey Gooey" poem in my photo above ;) ). He also didn't perfectly recite the longest poem learned to date but he's getting closer.
Enjoy! :)

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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