Today I’d like to walk you through our experience with Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and their product kit Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization.
What We Received ~
A beautiful box filled with a soft sided CD pouch with 5 audio CD’s, (One for each level) one training DVD (Nurturing Competent Communicators), and a Teacher’s Manual. The Teacher’s Manual contains the links to several audio MP3’s and the instructions to download the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization Student e-book.
IEW was generous with the review and surprised us with a preprinted, spiral bound Student Book as well! This is normally purchased separately.
Thank You IEW!
I’m Glad You Stopped By ~
I’ve woken up the last few days writing this review in my sleep, trying to figure out which angle to present. Cut and dry? This is what it is, and this is what we did? Emotional and Spiritual? This is what we needed and this is how crazy it is that it fit? Mentorish and Instructive? This is why I’d go back to day one and stick with this program for both boys, and then you’d see where they are now, and realize that you should too.
I don’t know where you are on your learning journey or why you are taking the time to read a Poetry Memorization review post. When I first heard of this program years ago I assumed that this product was for folks who had sparkling children sitting at home that were bored and didn’t have hobbies or electronic devices and wanted to memorize long passages to make their parents feel better about themselves and wow folks at co-op show and tell.
I can’t stress enough that it is arduous for both of my boys to remember anything. They can’t remember a lunch menu. Why would I torture them to memorize poems that they don’t care about so that we’d look good at co-op? Well, maybe it’s not about showing off.
IEW and Andrew Pudewa ~
I am overwhelmingly thankful for Andrew Pudewa, for what he has written and recorded. My IEW Account is full of his teaching and training. The Teacher’s Manual starts out training the person presenting this course. At first look, you might think you just start on day one – pick a poem – memorize it – but if you do that, you’ll miss the goals of the program.
There are several MP3’s to help you gain understanding:
- Nurturing Competent Communicators
- Mastery Learning, Ability Development and Individualized Education
- Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding
- ON Listening
- On Speaking
- On Reading
- On Writing
If you ever attend an online event with IEW or follow them in December, you’ll know they give quite a few of their mentoring recordings away for free. They are also very inexpensive on their website. A couple of my favorites are- Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Be Making Forts All Day and But But But – What About Grammar? both of which really helped me as a teacher and are only $3.00 each. The included MP3’s will help you understand the educational philosophy. The Teacher’s Manual will also teach you the Why behind the program, and how to implement it. Start with the book – and then spend time listening to the MP3’s.
I just finished listening to Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding last week. I’ll be writing more about reading out loud and bit of notes regarding liturgical parts of worship. Out of context it doesn’t make any sense, but I have a page of notes that really helped me. My notes won’t make sense to you, but it did re-kindled my desire for Mastery Education.
Teaching the Teacher ~
The Introduction for the Teacher starts with Prerequisites for Effective Communication. It stresses the need to have “reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns” poured into their minds to help their written and oral communication. I have felt the stress of vocabulary to meet a need for an SAT score or to help their essays be more bold. We’ve spent our time with flashcards. IEW’s idea is that the words alone will not hold true in their speech and writing. Rather, knowing how to use them, artistically, and correctly, in phrases and clauses, having twirled them around on their tongue before – will allow them to pour them out on paper and speaking later.
As you read the manual you learn about poetry, memorization, and mastery learning. I have underlines and highlights and notes throughout. I’m not allowed to quote portions of the books in reviews, but I wish I could just share it all here. Ha.
One thing I will share is that it fits our current need: Brain Development. With a few knocks to the head, we’ve been working on retraining his brain after concussions this year. I am convinced that neurologically, memorization strengthens and develops the brain. I have seen the results this time through, and before; memorizing passages not only strengthens his mind, but also his heart and spirit. Mr. Pudewa has also convinced me that the brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised, the more the boys try to memorize, the easier get gets. It may start out slow, but each day it builds. Jon’s sentiment when I asked today if it is getting easier to memorize– ‘I don’t dislike it as much anymore, I guess it’s going faster’. He’ll do just about anything Mr. Pudewa says – and for that I am thankful.
He rekindled my focus on Mastery Learning. I’ve written the last few weeks about submitting grades for sports, and my focus turns to results that have a government quality control number/letter. However, the reason my boys make A’s is because of Mastery Learning. Many of our curriculum choices require mastery before turning to the next chapter. Which means we want them to have the goals accomplished 100% with an ability to share and preferably teach another what they have learned. Institutions with many students turn towards a non ability development method. We are required to have 7 subjects to play baseball, and we have fallen to adding courses to meet the requirement, to be able to assign grades, so that he can play in the next game. This past term I was more bold in my display of our Talent Education – Mastery Education, when I submitted our subjects.
It is hard to give the “why” in one post, when he has 16 pages and 7 audio recordings along with a DVD to really develop my understanding.
For this course – the why, to me, is more important than the what. Because the What couldn’t be more simple, so one needs to understand the importance of why, and what is being accomplished.
This is a long term program.
Completing the entire program could take years. We have seen dramatic differences in a few weeks, and know from experience that it grows within a few months.
No matter the age, it is strongly urged that you start with Level One. There are Five Levels. Levels 1-4 are Poems, and Level 5 is Speeches. I picked this review because I wanted to start on Level Five as it fit with our US History work, and I thought it would ‘fit a course requirement’ and help him understand History. That may be true, but like I said above, the teacher training refocused my attention. Ha. A side note – Level 5 is printed out with the new edition in the student book and teacher’s book.
This is not a religious product. It is acceptable to use if you are connected to a charter school, or for a teacher in a government school setting. He speaks about the difference of scriptures and hymn memorization vs. poems in the training. There are blank pages at the end of the levels to add pieces that may fit your family/school goals.
How We Used It
Since we had used the older version before, we started on Level 2 for something fresh. (Disclaimer: We have since re-started Level 1 after he had 6 poems memorized. Thanks to the training above, I see the point of starting at the beginning.)
If you have the Student PDF E-Book, you’d want to print out Getting Started with Level One page for them. It reminds them of a simple six step process, lists the poems of Level One and gives a handy chart to check off the days that they have practiced. In the Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding audio above, he gives great examples as to why practicing every day for 100 days, in any learning venture, is invaluable.
Depending on your printing availability and age of your child, you may want to print the first 2-4 poems of Level One rather than the whole e-book. We’ve had the pre-printed Student Book for both versions. Had I not, I would have put their printed pages in a three ring binder.
We used it mostly the home this time around. Each morning Jon pulled up the audio file for his poems. He says he likes to hear how Mr. Pudewa phrases the stanzas and uses his voice to mimic. He listens to the audio file, and then works on it either together with Mr. Pudewa or by himself for 20 minutes.
He quickly mastered How Doth the Little Crocodile and moved forward through 5 poems. After finishing the teacher training, I’m thinking he isn’t quite 100% mastery of them. We’re going to work on that. One thing to note – they start the memory with the Title and Author. Both boys liked to say The Vulture, by Hilaire Belloc. (Hill-Air Bell-Ock) I dunno, they think it’s funny. What’s cool, is they start to know the authors, and their style. So when they were introduced to The Yak, and hear Hilaire Belloc – they assume that they will enjoy the piece.
He works on his current poem each day and recites the entire list at least once a week, often in the car.
After he hears Mr. Pudewa while reading his student book, we put the CD back in the car and work on the Level One together as we drive. The suggestion is to work on the memory work several times a day. I hear him practicing them as he goes about his day, almost like humming a song that got stuck in his head from Pandora. Now that he has more poems memorized, I’ll put the CD back in my car. It will give us time to master the ones we’ve learned. (Do you notice I keep saying We?)
On longer portions the suggestion is to practice one stanza until it is mastered before moving forward. We have seen this to be more encouraging, rather than facing a whole long piece. We’ve done this with piano as well. Introducing the whole song, and then mastering 4-5 bars at a time before moving on. Same works with the memorization of poetry.
On the brain development side – He recently began reciting out loud. I am convinced that reading out loud is helping him. I’ve seen quick results with comprehension and memory ability.
Mr. Pudewa answers the question of Won’t all this practice take too long? I held that sentiment before starting AWANA long ago, and before starting this program in the past. I have come to be on Mr. Pudewa’s side that it is the best use of our morning hours. The more he has done it the past few weeks the easier it is.
If I can do it with my boys, anyone can! Now, more than ever, we need competent communicators who can speak the truth well. I want my boys to have a rich vocabulary, but I also want them to communicate well. I believe this program enables that transition to happen.
Are you a Unit Study Family?
Appendix 3 in the back of book has Lesson Enhancements for your family! It is a bit different with each poem. The first poem is Ooey Gooey. It is a tale about a worm. The next poem is Celery. The staff at IEW gives ideas in Science, Writing, Character, and a chat about Irony for the first poem. For the second they give a Literature suggestion and even have the story as a free download. Then they move to Science and Nutrition. You move through Poetic Elements, Vocabulary, Literary Devices, Social Studies, Geography, Rhyme, Comprehension, Biographies, Manners, Music, and even Math. I’m not sure if Art counts with his little additions to the drawings on each page? He studying astronomy right now, and filled in the blank on this one. Each poem has 3-4 Lesson Enhancements that change from poem to poem. In the teacher training he talks about all of the grammar that can be found in these compact stanzas. I was even a bit overwhelmed with how quickly he could pull them out, and we’re on our 2nd book of Fix It! Grammar. He calls peotry “Linguistic Gold”. I agre. These suggestions are perfect for multi ages, as you may scratch the surface or dig deeply depending on desire and ability.
Combining IEW Products
We use Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization, A Mastery Learning Approach, along with Fix It! Grammar, Student Writing Intensive B, and Phonetic Zoo Spelling Program. We were a bit more on the Delight Directed path with my older son, and didn’t require assignments as much. He was a self learner – still is, and is doing well with his college courses and made A’s in his writing classes. He also passes his classes thanks to his writing on midterms. If I could go back, I’d increase the time spent daily with him on these products and learning ideas. We have continued to reference SWI-C and the Portable Walls as a reminder with his college classes.
My younger son is not quite a self learner unless it has to do with outdoor activities. He does really well with completing whatever I assign him during the day, and so far, he has never ventured outside of the list to look up additional information. I am SO thankful for IEW that I can trust that his education will be solid in communication. As I noted above, we are switching back to Level One, mastering the first 7 that he worked on a couple of years ago, and then continuing our daily habit of memorization in the morning, and practicing throughout the day.
Wrapping Up ~
All that to say – The key to this program is in the name. Linguistic Development. The Peoms are a Tool. The Memorization is the Sport so to speak. Developing the language abilities of your student is the result.