If there's one company who has the highest reputation among homeschooling families and is the most recommended, it would probably be Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). IEW has a well earned reputation as being the gold standard for teaching writing and grammar and offers a line of high quality products for homeschool families. It is because of this reputation as well as the values that IEW as a company reflects that makes them a favorite among those searching for either a secular and spiritual curriculum. You can only imagine my excitement when I was given the opportunity to review the recently revised program Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization.
The Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization curriculum includes a 200 page spiral bound teacher's manual, a set of 5 audio CD's that contain all 96 poems and speeches to be memorized, and a DVD of IEW's Director Andrew Pudewa's presentation of "Nursing Competent Communicators". Located inside the teacher's manual is a page which includes instructions on how to access the free download of the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization Student E-book. For those who prefer a physical copy of the Student book, A spiral bound version can be purchased for an additional price. (IEW was very generous and included a physical copy of the Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization student book for this review but it is not an included part of the curriculum).
Also included with the free downloads is a MP3 recording of the "Nursing Competent Communicators" presentation as well as six other Audio MP3s of Andrew Pudewa. These are not just "fluff" to be ignored; Mr Pudewa is an amazing speaker who brings much insight about teaching children language arts using the Suzuki method. I highly recommend taking the opportunity to listen to him speak if ever given the opportunity.
Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization is divided into 5 levels. The first four of these levels consists of 19 poems in which students memorize one by one (a twentieth poem to complete each section is to be supplied by the parent). Poems in Level 1 start very very simply (the first poem being only 5 stanzas) and gradually build to more complicated poetry through each level. The fifth Level changes things up by providing a selection of excerpts from popular and well known speeches such as Socrates' Apology, The Gettysburg Address, and Ronald Reagan's address from the Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall. Completion of all 5 levels means that students will have memorized 80 poems and 20 speeches.
All students start the program at the very beginning, regardless of reading level, age or grade. Students are to memorize the first poem, reciting not only the poem itself but the title and author as well. Proper memorization and reciting of each poem allows students to move to the next poem. However, they will continue to recite previous poems as well as the new poem each time. Once the 20th poem is memorized and all 20 are recited properly, an included certificate of completion for the level can be awarded and students can be rewarded with a party or some other celebration before moving on to the next level. As next level poems are memorized, previous level poems are still recited as well on alternating days.
My kiddos are on the younger side of the spectrum for this program, so while some students can probably whip through the Level 1 poetry fairly quickly, we're taking a pretty slow approach to it.
One of the very first things I did was transferred the audio CD's of the poems we would be memorizing to my
Amazon Cloud so that we could quickly access them with our Amazon Echo. This way, the kids can simply ask the Echo to play a particular poem and they get to hear Mr Pudewa recite it. It also has allowed me to randomly play the poems using my Kindle Fire whenever I just want the kids to hear it throughout the day. It really has gotten to be a bit of fun for us, as they never know when I will randomly have the Echo play one of the poems they have either learned or are currently working on. (Technology is so fun!!)
The first couple of poems they were able to learn within a week. The kids would start by coloring copies of the weeks poem (IEW has an amazing generous photocopy policy that allows families to make copies for each of their kids) , reading the poems aloud and then followed along as we listened to the audio recordings of Mr Pudewa reciting the poem. Then, at random times I would ask the kids to recite what they could remember. This provides both audio and visual exposure to the poems as well as exposing them multiple times during the day rather than just during school time.
Ashleigh picks up memorization much quicker than Garrett who already struggles with speech and proper word development. Because of this, I really don't want her to get far ahead of him and so I have allowed Garrett to set the pace for our memorization. This means that we are currently still working on poem 5 from Level 1 since this is where Garrett is at the time. However, for a special needs student, this has really worked wonders with Garrett as the poems really catch his attention and he is having fun reciting them (as you can see from the following videos).
Sure, if one looks at or listens to the first few poems memorized in Level 1, they are a bit silly. I honestly think this is part of the genius of the program. Presenting students with a fun, silly and lighthearted selection such as Ooey Gooey or The Vulture grabs their attention and pulls them into the curriculum. Eventually Ooey Gooey falls to the wayside and students start memorizing Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, Joyce Kilmer (the poem Trees which I had to memorize in 7th Grade), and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (whom I wasn't even presented with until 12th grade).
One of the suggestions that IEW makes in regards to completion of each level is to celebrate. The kids have already selected and set their goals for each level: a cake and ice cream party for level 1, pizza at Chuck E Cheese for Level 2, dinner at Medieval Times for Level 3, a weekend trip to San Diego for Level 4 and Disneyland for Level 5. If they are willing to do the work, I'm willing to deliver. However, they both understand that BOTH of them must memorize all the poems, not just Ashleigh.
The kids have really enjoyed the introduction of this poetry memorization program to our daily routine and I've really enjoyed seeing Garrett's confidence build with each poem he is successfully able to memorize. You'll hear much more about Garrett's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization adventure next month as we have been using it with the Forbrain apparatus that he is wearing in his video.
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IEW was extremely generous and gave 100 members of the Review Crew copies of the Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization program to try with their students. Click the banner below to find out how a large range of age/grades did with the program by reading their reviews.