Today's Wisdom

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review of IEW's Phonetic Zoo - Level A

IEW Phonetic Zoo
Spelling, spelling, spelling. If you've been a reader here for a while you will already know that Spelling is our struggle subject. Not one, not two, but all three of my children struggle with spelling. We have tried just about every curriculum there is for spelling so why not one more, right? So keep reading for which one we tried this time.
Institute for Excellence in Writing also known as IEW offers a unique approach to spelling in their Phonetic Zoo courses. They come in three levels, A, B, or C and is recommended for grades 3 and up. After taking the placement test, I decided it would be best for Sarah to begin with the Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set].

 IEW Phonetic Zoo

IEW approaches spelling in a sequential and phonics based manner. It also includes CD's for an auditory approach to learning as well as the visual approaches of flashcards.

Each level includes:
  • five audio CDs, labeled Disc One through Disc Five (Level C has six CDs.)
  • set of large flash cards
  • set of small Zoo Cards
  • link for a PDF teacher's ebook  (sample)
  • link to a streaming seminar of Spelling and the Brain
The printed materials sell for $99 or you can purchase downloadable materials for $79.  Once you purchase a level, you will be sent a link to download the teacher's ebook.  You will only need to add in a CD player, headphones, notebook paper (or the printable sheet included in the teacher ebook), and pen to begin.  If you are not familiar with IEW's philosophy on using pen, you can read more about that here. We are still rebels and use pencil most of the time.  

The flash cards include word lists for all three levels making them very versatile in using with multiple grades. Implementing this curriculum into your current schedule is extremely easy and we had it up and going quickly.  It takes Sarah no more than 15 minutes each day to complete and on average we complete a lesson per week.  There are 47 lessons and no time frame is given to complete them because the program is set up to completely master a lesson before moving on.

How We Used This In Our Homeschool

  • First step was to watch the Spelling and the Brain Seminar which explained a lot of the struggles I see often in my children.  It was such an informational seminar and eye opening.
  • I printed out the lesson pages from the teacher ebook and placed them in their own binder.  This step is not necessary because you can read it off of your computer but we are doing a lot of car schooling lately so I wanted to do it this way.  
  • I placed the little flashcards in baseball card protectors (from my couponing days!) and stuck them in a folder for Sarah.  That folder was for her to look back on and study the rules and animals that went with the rules. There is also an option in the appendix to make a Phonetic Zoo board or a lapbook which looked fun too!
  • I placed the large flashcards in a small notebook with half sheet page protectors.  You could also place them on a ring because they already have a hole punched in them for that purpose.
Day 1 - We would sit together and go over the words on the large flashcard along with the rule for the lesson.  There is an animal on the flashcards that correspond to the rule as well.  The teacher's ebook gives you information to help explain the rule further to your child.  We would go over spelling each word together on the white board the first day.  

Day 2 - She grabs the CD which tells her the spelling words in a sentence to write for the lesson.  She writes them on notebook paper and then checks them along with the CD too.  I always check her corrections to make sure she marks them correctly.  You can listen to a sample of the audio lesson here.

Day 3, 4... - She continues the same process as Day 2 until she gets all 15 words 100% correct two times in a row.  Once she accomplishes that, she moves on to the next lesson so you can see that a lesson might take 2 days or all week depending on the words and if she is familiar with them or not.

Every 5th lesson, there is an opportunity for review.  For this lesson, you will collect any words that were spelled with errors in the previous lessons and you can also include words from writing lessons in other subject areas as well. 

Sarah really enjoys the independence that this program gives her.  I like that aspect too because it frees me up to work with my high schoolers.  She likes checking and correcting her own work too.  The rules are repeated often on the CD during the practice so she's really picked those up pretty quickly and it gives us a hint we can use with one another if I notice a word misspelled on one of her papers.  For instance, I might say "what's the rule for i-e words?" and she can work through what she remembers about that rule.  

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  1. sounds like an excellent program. And generally affordable as well. :)

  2. I'm hoping to see some improvement in end of year scores but if not that's okay too!

  3. I'm hoping to see some improvement in end of year scores but if not that's okay too!


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