Not sure what to really expect from Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization or my girls’ responses to memorizing poetry, this one was a gamble to begin. It has been a gamble that has really paid off! All three girls are really enjoying this program from Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and I am seeing a tremendous amount of growth in their language and confidence.
It seems everywhere we go, the girls are enjoying sharing these poems that they are memorizing with just about anyone who will listen. With such an easy to implement program that provides so much growth, I can only say I wish I knew about this earlier. I should have suspected they would love it the minute it arrived at the house. The girls grabbed the book and took turns flipping through it to read poems out loud that caught their attention. I think they spent about an hour taking turns sharing poems from the book.
We received the set for Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization that included the teacher’s manual and a set of 5 CDs, one for each of the levels of poetry learning. Also included in the set with the teacher’s manual is a bonus DVD of a presentation titled “Nurturing Competent Communicators.” As a reviewer, I also received a printed version of the Student Book. The printed student book is sold separately from the set with the teacher’s manual and CDs.
The Poetry Memorization program is simply that – poetry memorization. Well, add in some speeches and other important excerpts for the later levels, but much of it is poetry. The program is based on much research and observation that poetry gives us examples of sophisticated language patterns and rhythms. By encouraging the memorization of these language patterns, we are increasing our student’s vocabulary and placing these sophisticated patterns in the mind. This is stretching the student’s mind and allowing for growth to occur. Bluntly put, this stretching of the mind by memorization makes the student smarter.
Poetry Memorization is a series of poems with five levels. The first four levels are all poetry. The fifth level is excerpts from speeches, including Elizabeth I, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill, and lines from some important written works such as the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution.
The first level is mostly fun, exciting, or silly poems. There are some that are just a few lines; others are several stanzas. The girls have loved doing these poems. Poems such as “Ooey Gooey” and “Celery” have brought fun to it while poems such as “The Vulture” and “The Yak” have actually brought discussions about the animals, times in the past, and finding places on maps. The girls are currently working on poems 9 (Miss J) and 10 (Miss E and Miss L).
The Teacher’s Manual includes all of the poems and tracking pages you need. However, we have found that the girls all enjoy having their own little poetry book. There is a page in the front of the teacher’s manual that has some download instructions on it and the purchase of the set with the teacher’s manual and the CDs gives the purchaser an e-book of the poems with an image on the page to color. We used this e-book to print off copies of all of the level one poems for the girls and put them into their own folder. Each child now has her own poetry book that she grabs when she is ready to work on a poem. **Note that these came from the download and are not copies of the student book or teacher’s manual. Both of those state that they cannot be copied.**
An important aspect of the memorization of poetry is to maintain those poems or excerpts once you move on to the next one. This practice is an important part of the program and I love that there are tracking pages to help you not only know where you are working now but what you need to practice so you don’t forget it. At the beginning, where we are, we practice all previous pieces each time. As you get into levels 2 and up, there is a schedule to help you continue to practice without having to take the time to review every single piece every single day.
This has been fun for us because it is a part of our schoolwork that we can do anywhere we might happen to be. We can do it in the car while driving to dance or the library. We can do it outside while enjoying a walk or just sitting. We can recite poetry while working on dinner or folding laundry. It was an easy program to add to our day because it doesn’t have to be more time sitting at a table or with a book in front of us. Having the CDs of the poems allows for the teacher to actually have a bit of time where someone else can direct the repetition, if needed.
Jumping back to the information about memorizing actually making a student smarter: I cannot state it nearly as well as Andrew Pudewa. He does an amazing job and you will get to hear him talk about it when you purchase this set. How? Included in the teacher’s manual is a page with instructions on how to download seven bonuses. These bonuses are MP3s and include:
- Nurturing Competent Communicators
- Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
- Ten Thousand Time and Then Begins Understanding
- On Listening
- On Speaking
- On Reading, and
- On Writing.
I can only say “OH MY!” These resources have stretched me farther than I ever imagined in learning about how children learn. Mr. Pudewa has an amazing ability to reach the teacher with information stated in a way that makes sense and is full of insight that I wish I had known a long time ago.
I have watched the Nurturing Competent Communicators on DVD. I sat with my Poetry Memorization teacher’s guide and highlighted parts that corresponded with the information in the front of it and wrote notes all over the pages for things that didn’t correspond but were really interesting, informative, or just plain “um . . . wow!” Just a couple of things that I have notes on:
- You cannot judge comprehension by attentiveness.
- You can’t get something out of a child’s brain that isn’t in there to begin with.
- Reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns are required for a student to be successful.
- These reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns are harder and harder to find in our society. (He has some great information about the exposures we are allowing our children to have.)
- Listening and speaking predicate reading and writing.
- Listening and speaking are harder to evaluate and assess while reading and writing are easier to assess.
- Hearing happens whether you like it or not; listening has the connotation of an active and intentional choice.
I have also made it all the way through On Listening and On Speaking. There is some really good overlap (read that: necessary and needed repetition of the information shared) between these two and I imagine that repetition will continue in the next two of the series: On Reading and On Writing. I found myself wishing I’d had access to these resources years ago, while I was teaching in the public schools. These MP3s give several hours worth of listening and learning so I still have quite a ways to go. I definitely plan to continue listening to these and will rewatch the DVD, as well. IEW has given us such a treat by sharing these audio files and the DVD with us.
This has convinced me that we need to included poetry memorization, for both their minds and their confidence. I will be doing a lot more memorization with the girls, especially since I see them thriving with it.
We have also had the pleasure of reviewing IEW’s Phonetic Zoo. Read that review here.
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