I have long loved all things that come from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and I was super-excited to review Mr. Pudewa's newest revision of Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. I fell in love with poetry as a child and actually kept notebooks of poems that touched my heart. I still have all of those notebooks and enjoy looking through them to this day. My Senior English teacher fostered my love of poetry and recitation by having us memorize poems and literary passages and stand before the class to share them aloud. After all of these years, that repetition of learning sticks with me still. It is not uncommon for me to begin reciting the Canterbury Tales, in Old English of course, at the craziest times or share a soliloquy from one of Shakespeare's plays. I wanted to introduce this same learning technique to my children and share with them the beauty of literature, but was unsure how to do so. Once again, IEW came to my rescue.
Having committed poetry to memory as a teenager, I have often longed for the beauty and simplicity of it through adulthood and pondered how to best instill that same love in my children. This mastery learning approach is the perfect way to introduce your family to the beneficial rhyme and rhythm of memorization.
I teach a Speech class for the high schoolers in our homeschool group and we always begin with memorization. I can share with them pieces and parts of what I memorized in school and have them begin choosing pieces to learn and share. For example, the very first assignment I give is for students to commit to memory The Gettysburg Address. In doing so, they realize that YES, they can stand before a group of people and speak aloud. I encourage them to add feeling and "ham it up" as they step back to the hallowed ground. The second assignment I give is having the students choose a favorite poem to share with the class. It is a great way to ease nerves and break the ice for what is to come and Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization lets me know that these assignments were right on target. Now, I have an arsenal of great poetry and important speeches to add to this year's class.
So how does this work in the read world of homeschool? Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization is divided into five levels. The first four levels contain 19 selected poems each with a 20th spot for personal choice. The fifth level contains 20 short speeches or speech exerts to be memorized. There are additional suggestions of longer speeches to be memorized, as well. All students begin with the very first level and learn the simple poem Ooey Gooey:
Ooey Gooey was a worm,
A mighty worm was he.
He stepped upon the railroad tracks,
The train he did not see!
How fun is that? Yes, it's a little gross, but it sure is a great way to grab the attention of kids who may or may not think poetry is BORING. Students read the poem, recite the poem, listen to the poem being recited on the CD, and practice, practice, practice. As students learn poems, they are instructed to highlight them in a list and check them off as they recite them daily. There are illustrations for some of the poems studied throughout the Student Book that can be colored (My girl is definitely a part of the current coloring craze, my boy? Not so much.) Students are also encouraged to illustrate the other poems in the book which serves as visual clues when they are practicing to recite. The selected poems for memorization get more difficult as students progress through the different levels. Daily practice (or as close to daily as possible) push my kids as they improve their communication skills and strengthen their vocabulary. Certificates are provided at the end of each level that can also be used for positive reinforcement.
At our house, this simply means we block off 10-15 minutes a day to study poetry. Both of my high schoolers are working at their own pace and I tend to keep it low-key. I want poetry memorization to be a fun activity and not be deemed as busy work. I know the benefits they are reaping, but I keep that to myself. I have them read through a poem, listen to it on the accompanying CD, and recite it as they are ready. They are building a repertoire of cool things and having fun in the process. If I made it too much like "work," they would automatically hate it and balk when asked to study.
The Teacher's Manual contains lesson enhancements for each poem and speech selection that offer suggested ways to include the study of poetry elements and integrate additional subjects as you memorize the poetry. Writing, vocabulary, science, literature, social studies, and geography are incorporated into the poetry studies. The mastery learning approach of repetition, review, repertoire expansion helps students retain what they set out to know. This lets me know that my approach to our Speech class is right on target.
IEW pushes my children to THINK in fresh, new ways as they gain independence in learning and work to develop their own personal styles. We have learned so much through the writing, grammar, classic literature study, and spelling programs of IEW. I have thoroughly enjoyed adding this poetry curriculum to our school days and can't wait to use it in other ways as well. It truly is a great addition to an already positive educational experience. The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) is a special friend to Long Leaf Academy and I recommend you check them out for great resources in your homeschool, as well. For even more information about IEW and all of their wonderful homeschool curriculum, please visit the following Social Media sites:
I was given the opportunity to review Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)