Many people have forsaken or forgotten the value of rote memorization, especially in this modern world of technology where calculators and Google are accessible at people’s fingertips; however, the ability to quickly recall needed information makes one a more efficient and productive worker, to name just some of the benefits. I am a huge advocate for rote memorization as one of many learning tools, so this is why we were excited to review Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).
The Product: Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization
The Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization set includes a teacher’s manual, a set of audio CDs, and a pdf version of the student book. A physical version of the Student’s Book can be purchased separately.
Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization teaches poetry memorization using the mastery approach, which means learning something in its entirety before moving on to learn the next item. This product has 5 levels or sets of poems, each getting progressively harder and longer. The last poem in each level is the student’s choice, but there is a list of suggestions if the student cannot think of one.
The introduction explains the science and benefits of memorization and the reasons why memorizing poetry specifically increases those benefits. It also goes into more detail about the concept of mastery learning or the Talent Education Pillars as put forth by Dr. Suzuki. Further information about how the program is set up and how to teach it can be found here.
Each of the poems/speeches in the five levels are written out here, along with side notes of further learning suggestions and teaching aids such as vocabulary definitions.
Appendix One contains a short biography of the individual authors. Appendix Two is the bibliography, a list of sources for the works in the curriculum. Appendix Three contains optional lesson enhancements; for each lesson, suggestions are made on how to expand learning into other subjects such as science or writing, to learn literary elements such as irony and personification, to increase comprehension, or to explore character studies or biographies.
The set of audio CDs, also available as MP3 files, has all the poems and speeches recorded on it. These are very handy. The student can listen to his poem independently, or they can listen to it in the car on the go.
The Student Book provides the student with a visual of each poem. It also has a progress monitoring chart for each level as well as skill maintenance lists to help the students retain the poems they already mastered.
The Student Book also contains certificates of completion for each level.
Although the teacher’s manual cannot be copied under the license agreement, IEW has a very generous policy concerning photocopying student materials for students within the same family, making it easier to use this product with all your students.
Bonus DVD & MP3 Workshops
Also included is a bonus DVD containing a very informational talk by Andrew Pudewa called Nurturing Competent Communicators. In this video, he dispels some myths concerning becoming a good writer and gives clear direction on how to raise a student who writes well. Also available only as MP3 downloads are 7 additional audio workshops.
My first grader really enjoyed memorizing these poems and was extremely proud of himself when he could recite one in its entirety completely from memory. So far, Ooey Gooey is still his favorite!
My son also made the mistake of looking at the end of the book and getting overwhelmed before he even started, but a reminder to take it one poem at a time seemed to focus him. I love the selection of poems. Some expose the student to famous works, which they will encounter later in their learning paths, and some are just fun! When we get to a poem I memorized as a child, I get excited that I can still recall the words!
I am a huge advocate, not only for rote memorization as state above, but also for teaching to mastery. Wherever I can, I choose this teaching method because I believe it builds confidence and stability in learning and lessens the chances of the student feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. I truly love these qualities in this product. Also, Andrew Pudewa’s conference talk Nurturing Competent Communicators is truly worth the time to watch: I have a renewed commitment to increase sophicated literacy content in our day.
Linguistic Development Through Poetry uses audio and visual repetition to help students memorize poems and speeches. Although I think these are good stragedies, there are other ways to teach memorization and sequences, such as forward and backward chaining to name a few. I would have liked to have seen various strategies and approaches explained in the teacher’s manual to expose students to different ways of learning and give teachers and parents some options if they come up against a learning block.
Till Next Time,