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May 18, 2016

Institute for Excellence in Writing TOS Review

The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) was started to help students develop listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking skills.  IEW uses a program created by primary schoolteacher Mrs. Anna Ingham in the first half of the 20th century.  In the 1970's, her nephew Dr. James B. Webster adapted Mrs. Ingham's lessons for older students and began to teach other instructors in her methods.  Mr. Andrew Pudewa was one of those instructors and brought this method to the United States.  I recently received IEW's Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization with the boys.

We received the Teacher's Manual and CDs as well as the separately available Student Book.  The TM and CDs arrive in a sturdy box, which is nice, considering we'll be using it for years to come.  Included with the Teacher's Manual, is a CD with recitations for each of the *five* levels of poetry and speeches.  These are read by Andrew Pudewa, who delivers a pleasant and error free recitation.  A DVD of Nurturing Competent Communicators is included in the CD slipcase.  I may have chuckled a few times watching that.  Micah was working in another room, probably thinking I had finally lost it.  An electronic copy of the student book is included with the TM, which can be printed for all of the children in your family or classroom.  Other downloads accompanying this set are audio files of various talks.
  • Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding
  • On Listening
  • On Speaking
  • On Reading
  • On Writing
  • Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
  • as well as an audio of Nurturing Competent Communicators

I had to laugh when I went to add those audio files to my IEW account.  I realized I had already collected every single one of them!  IEW offers great talks on many educational topics and I highly recommend them.

In Nurturing Competent Communicators, Mr. Pudewa talks at length about the Suzuki Method for learning music and how he has applied this method to linguistics.  I enjoyed hearing how the poetry memorization worked in a preschool he ran many years ago.  Children learn a lot about language through repetition, they are drawn to it.  I would rather they train that part of their brains with fun poems (that they might be able to impress a lovely young woman with someday!) than the ridiculous things that tend to stick in their brains some times, like commercial jingles or a song they might hear with less than intelligent lyrics or, more likely around here, every word of every episode of Thomas the Tank Engine.

We have all actually (and surprisingly) loved every minute of this course.  My reluctant boys have laughed and recited the Level One poems many times and they have never stopped smiling through them all.  The get a huge kick out of the sillier poems and they are still drawn to the few more serious selections.

Through this course the kids learn about communication skills (oral and written), becoming better speakers and writers by repeating one poem every day until it is mastered (including the recitation of the title and author).  At that time, we add the next poem.  They then recite the already learned poem and the new poem, adding a new poem each time the previous poem is mastered.  Nineteen poems are included in the book and the twentieth is chosen by the child or parent/teacher.  We have not completed the twenty poems of Level One yet, but when that level is complete, we repeat the same technique with Level Two while still practicing Level One and so on.  This seems like it could eventually take considerable time each day, but there is a pattern to only repeat some of the previous levels on various days.  The investment in time will be well worth it.

Even on the days we don't recite the poems, we listen to the CD regularly enough and all the way through that Xavier and especially Merrick (his little brain just sucks all that up!) have memorized large sections of most of the Level One poems.  We've learned many new poems that have quickly become favorites.

Merrick was the first of the boys to start memorizing.  He just loved Ooey Gooey from the first hearing when I read the poems through one night.  He has the CD playing in the background often and when he does recitation, he even "says" the short piece of music between each poem on the CD!  He quizzes me about each poem, to see if I'm listening, too.  He also couldn't wait to go to co-op and tell everyone who would listen, *and* everyone who wouldn't, Ooey Gooey.

The poems in the student book are listed one to a page with a simple black line drawing for coloring.  All of the Level One poems and some of the poems in levels 2-4 have a picture to complete.  Level Five consists of speeches and excerpts from historical figures like Queen Elizabeth I and Patrick Henry, important documents like the Preamble of the US Constitution (which I actually memorized from Schoolhouse Rock, many moons ago!), and from books and plays from authors like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare.  Each selection in the fifth level contains information about the piece which might include the history of it or the person, some vocabulary, and links to learn more about it, either on the IEW site or elsewhere.  Appendices in the back include a bibliography and brief author biographies.

The Teacher's Manual includes much of the same information as the student book, with information about effective communication and the use of poetry memorization and the benefits of mastery learning.  My favorite part of the TM, however, is Appendix 3 which has optional lesson enhancements for every selection on all five CDs.  This section lists poetic elements, cross-curricular tie ins for science or history, and literature selections for related stories.

This is definitely one of our favorite school items all year.

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Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

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