Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Institute For Excellence in Writing: A School House Crew Review

I was given an opportunity to review products from Institute for Excellence in Writing. We were given the complete PAL:Reading and Writing Program  that is targeted at grades K-2.

I have inserted plenty of pictures to help you visualize how this program works. This is by far the hardest review that I have written. It is jammed packed with information and I will do my best to help you understand how this program works, and how we used it.  During the review period I used this with my homeschooling student who is in kindergarten. I used the program exactly how I interpreted it to have been written to be done. With the exception of one thing, the PAL Reading component calls for an Agenda to be incorporated into your child's school day. Janessa(age 5) has a solid routine already built into her day it was very unnecessary for us to change the look of her day when it is already going well. I think it is a great concept for those who have struggled with finding a schedule for their child and it encourages independence. As I got into the program I realized that the Agenda is a lot more than a schedule but very important piece to  the reading program as it is incorporates the lessons' reading words into the environment. With this being said, I regret that I didn't do this from the beginning and we will be adding this brilliant visual aid into our day next week.
                  The Agenda is included in the Teacher's Reading Manual.       

  • Primary Arts of Language: The program is divided into two components reading and writing. I strongly suggest that you use all the components concurrently as suggested. I believe that your lessons will be missing important pieces of information that help your child make connections that will help them become a reader.
The Primary Arts of Language(Reading): It includes a Teacher's Manual, a CD Rom and a book of Phonetic Games. The manual has the scheduled days lessons and black line masters that assist you in successfully implementing the program. There are plenty of suggestions to help you along the way.  I really enjoyed the helpful information along the way, it was very encouraging. My favorite was reading this tidbit; "Most students need more than fifty repetitions to remember  something without thinking" and Jill Pike the writer of this program does a wonderful job of making sure they get well over fifty repetitions. The CD is very vital to the program . You get an overview of the program as well as recordings from Andrew Pudewa, Anna Igham very inspiring!! Also the CD has the black line masters of the work pages, posters, and Readers. 

The Reading component is broken down into four stages
  • Stage 1- Foundations and Reader Words
  • Stage 2- Activity Time 
  • Stage 3- Discovery  
  • Stage 4- Library            
We are in Stage 1 right now in our lessons and Janessa is reading!! In stage one she has memorized a poem and while learning the poem found sounds that have helped her to decode words.
She has enjoyed playing many games that have reinforced letter sound recognition.    
Janessa enjoyed every one of them and  repeatedly plays the games on her own.

The game boards and pieces come in a book that you can just cut and glue add to your file folders. I like color so I printed the pages on colored card stock.

The work pages were well received she loves cutting, gluing and coloring. The reading practice pages were a hit!!
The  posters were used in different lessons to help guide the child visually when introducing certain punctuation rules, sounds, or sound rules.

 After a lesson the child or before the school day is over, the child does a reading practice page or reading activity.

I chose to bind these pages so it could become a book which Janessa enjoys reading independently.

One more thing that makes this reading program so interestingly fun is the Phonetic Farm.

There are certain lessons that involve the child to add stickers of  sounds with animals to the Farm. This helped Janessa to remember the sounds. We always revisited the Phonetic Farm before our work time was over. This is her favorite part of the reading program. Again we are only in Stage 1 so I didn't share any pictures of the readers, or go into any details about the other stages that we have not experienced yet. You can purchase this complete reading program here for $69.00 .   

Click here to see a video of Andrew Pudewa's introduction to Primary Arts of Language: Reading.

Now let's get into the Writing component, it is divided into three parts; Part I: Printing and Story Summaries, Part II Copy Work and Style with All About Spelling and Part III: Composition with Style.

Just like the reading component ,the writing component comes with a Teacher's Manual and CD that comes with more recordings and black line masters for the student. At this time we just completed lesson 12 which begins to teach Uppercase letters along with the Lower Case letters

You start your writing lesson off with you and the student recording in a class journal.
 The point of interest is for the child to understand the connection of oral language to the written language.

 The child is introduced to the sound of the letter and a letter story is given to each letter. This is why I recommend using all of the components to PAL. All of the writing lessons are connected to the reading lessons. Remember the tidbit of information that if a child hears repetition of something fifty times then they will remember it without thinking. It works just like that!!
 Janessa's handwriting has improved and she loves to say the letter story as she practices her handwriting.
In the manual there are short stories that are included into the scheduled day and you ask the child various questions to help them with their comprehension of the story and story elements. What I liked most about the writing component is that it was simple and effective, and the stories were captivating for Janessa without the use of pictures.  

At lesson 12 we were able to put the icing on the cake by adding in the spelling portion using All About Spelling. Since we have only done the very first lesson which was reviewing the sounds introduced in the reading program I am unable to say exactly how it will work out for Janessa(5). Our first lesson went very well and I am happy to say that she has mastered the 26 lessons that are reviewed in the first lesson. Janessa was confident and pleased with herself that she was able to say the sounds without hesitation, this had everything to do with the Reading component. The complete writing program can be purchased here for $89.00.
To watch a video of Andrew Pudewa's introduction of the Pal Primary Arts of Language:Writing program go here. To see samples of the writing program go here.

I really enjoy teaching Janessa how to read with this program. Reading and writing has become her favorite subjects, she is always asking for more. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to instill the joy of reading and writing to a child. Now that I am comfortable with this program I can incorporate a lot of Montessori inspired activities with this since it has a lot of Montessori principles integrated. If you have any questions that was not addressed in this review please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer them for you.

To read what other Crew Members thought of these products go here.
I received these products as a member of the Schoolhouse Crew Review in exchange for a honest review. All opinions I expressed are all my own!!

Now that I have shared with you how Janessa has been learning to read and write, it is your turn to share what language activities you have been doing. Please link up any past or new language activities. Please remember to link back here so that your readers can find this awesome collection of links. Thank you so much!!


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