Developing Good Communicators With Poetry Memorization From IEW (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I have a confession. Like many homeschoolers, I heard of Institute for Excellence in Writing early in my homeschool career. I was just sure that it couldn’t be as wonderful as all the buzz, so I resisted trying their materials for some time. Then a few years ago, I tried their writing program for a Crew review, and I was hooked. Since then, we’ve loved so many IEW materials.

Most recently I was thrilled when we had the opportunity to receive the Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization curriculum, along with a spiral bound Student Book from Institute for Excellence in Writing.

Poetry memorization from IEW

I had been hearing the buzz about this new program because now that I’ve become an IEW fanatic user, I stalk listen to Andrew Pudewa – the program’s founder-in as many places as possible. I listen to the IEW podcast and have heard Andrew Pudewa talk about the importance of memorization and about using poetry memorization to develop better writing and speaking in our kids- and us. This makes so much sense, and I was ready to dive in and use poetry memorization with the whole family.

What’s in the package?

We received the Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization package. This includes:

Reading readiness

  • A spiral bound teacher’s book- The teacher’s book contains a wealth of information about why the course is important and how to use it as well as copies of all of the poems in all five levels of the program with teaching notes and three appendices that include brief biographies of the authors of the poems, a bibliography, and lesson enhancement ideas.
  • Download codes for a student book as well as seven audio mp3s- The student book can be printed for family use. (I love IEW’s copying policy because I can use the materials for all of the kids. It’s extremely helpful when you have multiple children using the same curriculum!) The audio mp3s are seven talks from Andrew Pudewa.
  • 5 Disc CD set- With these five CDs, you can listen to audios of all of the poetry from each unit.
  • DVD of Andrew Pudewa’s talk “Nurturing Competent Communicators.” -This talk does an excellent job of giving the background about why memorization is so important. This helps the parent or teacher to really see how this program is going to work and why it’s so valuable.
We also received a spiral bound student book. These can be purchased if you don’t want to print the entire student book.

How does it work?

The premise of the poetry memorization program is that people become good writers and communicators when they have a resource of good communication from which to draw. Children can learn vocabulary and word usage and the use of ideas when they memorize good poetry. Then, when they are writing or speaking, they have these ideas to draw upon.
The program includes five units of memorization. The first four contain poems that gradually get harder. The fifth level contains speeches. 
The program is a mastery program, meaning that students move on when they’ve mastered the material, not at a certain progression. It is recommended that all students begin at Level One.
When students begin Level One, they begin by reciting the first poem every day. The teacher’s guide says that students can all recite on the same day or can recite whenever they are ready. After they have recited it from memory, they progress to memorizing poem two. Every day they now practice both poems. This will continue until, at the end of Level One, students will recite all of the Level One poems. Once the student begins the next level, he’ll continue to practice Level One on an every other day schedule. This pattern will continue throughout the levels, changing a little when students get to the speeches in Level Five.

IEW poetry memorization

How did we use it?

I wanted to use this for all of the kids- ages 16, 15, 12, and 10. I decided to memorize along with them. I expected some resistance, and so I was prepared with a bribe. I offered a choice of favorite candy upon completion of a set number of poems recited.
We all began in Level One. For each poem, I printed out enough copies for each child from the downloads. We worked on saying the poem each morning when we did morning devotions. I would also remind the kids of it at other times during the day. The kids keep their copies of the poems in folders. At first I set a specific day when everyone would recite. This was pretty easy at the beginning of Level One when the poems were only a few lines. I could have recitals in just two days, and everyone knew the poems. 
As we began to add some longer poems, it was harder. I ended up having kids say poems on different days. This was a little harder to keep track of, but it seemed to flow better. There is a nice chart in the student book that can help with keeping up with how often you practice each poem.

Writing foundation

What did we think?

We’re still in Level One, but I’ve been pleased with our progress. I was also pleasantly surprised that I haven’t had much resistance. I’m sure my offer of candy helped, but practicing the poems has been fun, and saying them has turned into a competition of sorts. It also helps that all of my children are old enough to understand the value of doing this.
I love the way the program is set up. It’s so easy to use. Although we haven’t used the CDs to listen very much for the short poems in Level One, I think they’ll be very useful as we get into longer and longer poems and practice more poems each day.
I’m looking forward to continuing on and challenging the kids- and myself- with harder and harder poems. This is another awesome program from IEW!
Other Crew members reviewed this program from IEW. You can read the reviews by clicking below.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review


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