Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Institute for Excellence in Writing {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Do you have a student who is struggling to learn to read and write? Or one who is ready to begin reading and writing? I'm sure you've heard of Institute for Excellence in Writing. Did you also know that they have a real heart for special needs children? You can read how their program will work for special needs students, and the resources they provide.

Even though Little Bit turns 13 this month, he still struggles enormously with reading and writing. Recently we were overwhelmingly blessed with the opportunity to use the Primary Arts of Language: Reading Complete Package and the Primary Arts of Language: Writing Complete Package. I was really hoping this would finally be the key to open that door for him; I think I am correct.

Primary Arts of Language: Reading

This package consists of the PAL:Reading Teacher's manual, PAL Reading DVD-ROM, PAL Phonetic Games, and PAL Phonetic Farm folder with stickers.
You will want to begin with the DVD-ROM, because it includes the instructional video by Jill Pike. There are also 4 mp3 talks (2 by Andrew Pudewa, and 2 by Anna Ingham), and the PAL: Reading student book.

The teacher's manual is well laid out, with easy to follow lesson plans.

You begin each day with a poem (which is provided, or you can find your own, if you'd rather). The same poem is used daily, for several days, with suggested activities to do each day, like noticing they rhymes, underlining certain letter combinations, etc.

Then you switch over the the PAL: Writing, for the daily lesson from it (I'll discuss that in a bit).

Next, back in the PAL: Reading, you will do the activities, which consist of file folder games you make, using the PAL: Phonetic Games book, and file folders. (This is Little Bit's favorite part!). There is also time for the Card Game, words you write and mark on index cards, which are kept in an index card file box.

After that is the Phonetic Farm (although usually Little Bit prefers to save this for last!), followed by the worksheets printed from the DVD-ROM.

The PAL: Phonetic Games book provides white paper pages at the front, which you tear or cut out of the book, and paste in to a file folder, for the game board. At the back of the book are cardstock pages of game pieces.

Little Bit has so much fun with these games. He has been kinesthetic from infancy, always feeling for textures even as a tiny baby. I should have realized years ago, that the best method for teaching him would be to use file folder games! The PAL: Phonetic Games has emphasized that for me.

We both adore the Phonetic Farm! We are still placing stickers as we go, but it is a great resource for reviewing the various phonics rules. I like that it is small enough to be portable, and doesn't take up space on the wall like posters do. The farm theme is perfect my my animal loving son!

PAL: Reading covers four stages: Foundations, Activity Time, Discovery, and The Library. During stage 1, you as the teacher will be laying the foundation in phonics and whole words. You'll be teaching phonograms and phonemes. Stage 2 incorporates a set time for playing the file folder games. Your child can choose which ones he/she wants to play during that set time. Stage 3 shifts from the Phonetic Games to going through Discovery card packs (which are included in the back of the teacher's manual). Then when your student has mastered the Discovery cards, he/she will be ready to enter the individualized Library, which is a collection of real books on an easy reading level.

Primary Arts of Language: Writing

This package contains the PAL: Writing teacher's manual, PAL:Writing DVD-ROM, All About Spelling Interactive Kit, and All About Spelling Level 1.
Again, you will want to start with the DVD. This includes an instructional video by Jill Pike; 5 mp3 audio talks: 1 by Adam Andrews; 2 by Andrew Pudewa; 2 by Shirley George; and 1 by Richelle Palmer; and the PAL: Writing student books.

The PAL: Writing teacher's manual contains lesson plans, and is divided in to three parts. Part 1 covers Printing and Story Summaries. Part 2 covers Copy Work and Style with All About Spelling. Then Part 3 covers Composition with Style.

In Part 1, each day's lesson begins with the teacher/parent writing a few sentences in a Class Journal (which can be just a simple spiral notebook). Then the student is to read the sentences back.

The next activity is printing. The student will use the pages printed from the student book, beginning with individual letters, and progressing to words. Each letter is presented by sound, using the "letter stories" introduced in PAL: Reading.

Then the instructor reads aloud a story. The first few lessons have stories provided (fairy tales or fables), or you could chose one from your own source. Then the teacher/parent helps the student summarize the story: Characters and Setting: Who? What? When? Where? The Problem (plot): What happens? The Climax/Resolution: How is the problem solved? Then the Clincher ends the story.

After all of that, is suggested a spelling test.

Part 2, The class journal is continued. All About Spelling is added in, and you will begin style and copy work. You will continue with story summaries, as well.

Part 3 shifts things a bit more. You will continue with All About Spelling, daily. The class journal can be continued, but won't be necessary. The focus now shifts to Composition with Style, and each lesson is divided up, so it requires 4 days per lesson. Throughout these lessons, your student will learn to write stories, outlines and summaries, creative writing: letters, written narration, and even scrapbooking.

The All About Spelling Basic Interactive Kit includes letter tiles, magnets, divider cards, the Phonogram Sounds app. We have the app on Little Bit's iPad. The magnets are to go an the backs of the letter tiles, so they can be used on a magnetic board.

Last, but certainly not least, is the All About Spelling teacher's manual and student pack. The student pack contains four sets of flash cards, and five colored tokens. All About Spelling uses a multisensory approach to learning spelling, which, as I mentioned before, is such a perfect fit for Little Bit. (Frankly, we began using All About Spelling earlier this school year.)

How we put it all together

When our package first arrived, and I began a quick look through everything, I suddenly felt overwhelmed!

I played the DVDs first...yes, one after the other that first day! (My suggestion: Don't do that! LOL Break your watching time in to smaller increments.) I'm watching them again, here at the end of our review period, in the smaller increments.

Then I printed off the worksheets from the DVDs. I chose to use different colored paper for each the student books from PAL: Reading, PAL: Writing, and the PAL Phonetic Farm Word Book. I just found it might be easier for me to keep things straight in my mind which pages would go with which PAL resource.
Since Little Bit does know his letter sounds, and how to write his letters, my original thought was that we would begin further in to the program. But when I had a look the first several lessons, I decided to go ahead and start at the beginning. I thought Little Bit would enjoy learning the letter stories, and that he'd really have fun with the games.
I think he has also enjoyed, for the most part, doing the pages from the student book. Each day from PAL: Reading, he has a page of sentences to read, and a cut and paste page, which he seems to enjoy.
From PAL: Writing, he began with writing letters, and is now moving on to words. I know that soon, he will be moving on to sentences, and paragraphs, even.
 I like the suggestion for learning and reviewing the vowels. Since my boy is getting so tall, we could use the full height of the door frame, but a younger child, you could just place them lower, within reach.
Sometimes we have a hard time coming up with something to write in our journal, and then there are some days we are able to write quite a bit.
Here is how I have all our resources stored, and within fairly easy reach. Little Bit can pull out one of the phonetic games to play any time he wants to.

One of my favorite things is how hands-on this program is. It truly is a perfect fit for my boy. I have noticed some improvement in his writing and spelling. He seems better able to figure out the spelling of words.

Summarizing the stories or chapters we read is also improving his reading comprehension it seems. I am thankful for that.

I am looking forward to seeing continued improvements as we move in to part 2 then part 3 of PAL: Writing. He wants so badly to be able to write letters to his friends back in Florida. I know this program will be giving him the knowledge, ability, and confidence, for this to happen in the near future.

This review product has been a tremendous blessing for us, and I am abundantly thankful. Frankly, I wish we could have begun it 2-3 years ago. If your child is developmentally/learning delayed like Little Bit, or is a young child who's ready to learn to read and write, I would highly recommend IEW PAL!

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Be sure to read the reviews from the rest of the Crew, since there were other products covered.

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