I had not been homeschooling long before I heard about the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and how wonderful their products were for every age. I had visited their webpage several times and even their crowded booth at the Midwest Homeschool Convention but I had never tried their products. But when given a chance to review their products, I jumped at the chance.
The Institute for Excellent in Writing (IEW) provides many products to meet the writing development needs of homeschooling student and parents. However, IEW was developed to help all educators. IEW came together when Andrew Pudewa was asked to help teachers learn how to teach structured writing based on Dr. James B Webster’s seminar’s. Mr. Pudewa received Dr. Webster’s blessing and soon had developed a course that was later recorded and sold to help teachers everywhere. Today, it is a hot seller in the education community as well as the homeschool community.
WHAT I RECEIVED
I received the Teaching Writing: Style and Structure 10 DVD set, the Student Writing Intensive Level A set, and accompanying notebooks and handouts. I loved that the binders were so well tabbed and I was given a step-by-step worksheet with the package to help me assemble my binders. I love getting things organized from the beginning. However, I must say, at first glance I was just as overwhelmed as I felt when I stepped into the IEW booth at the convention or perused the website. It seems very overwhelming upon first glance. However, the packet came with step-by-step instructions on how to put together the binders and tells you exactly where to start. Additionally, the IEW website, provides a “Start here” section that is very helpful. This made me feel a little better.
HOW WE USED IT
The Teaching Writing: Style and Structure (TWSS) 10 DVD set came with an accompanying binder full of tabs to help the teacher (me) organize. I liked that it was so easy to organize and then go through the seminar with my binder ready to go. It was also easy to refer to once we started in on our lessons. The Teaching Writing: Style and Structure course is made for any teacher wishing to teach other students to write beginning with the basics and going through creative writing and essay writing. This covers IEW Levels A, B, and C in detail. Of the 10 DVDs, there are 6 DVDs on teaching the nine writing structural models including techniques, one DVD with tips and tricks to teaching through the nine units, and 3 DVDs of sample student workshops for the three levels of student intensive workshops that IEW offers (A, B, and C). The seminar workbook is the syllabus for the course and contains tabbed resources for teaching all levels including charts, word lists, stories used in seminars, and even lesson plans.
I started watching the seminars and I found them pretty interesting. Interesting in that I hadn’t thought in some of the ways the Andrew Pudewa suggested as we began the seminar. I realized that I may have inadvertently discouraged my daughter’s writing by concentrating or emphasizing things that didn’t need to be touched on during a writing lesson.
The Student Writing Intensive Level A (SWI-A) set, and accompanying notebooks and handouts, were the lessons we received to start with. They are designed for grades 3 through 5. We used it with our daughter who just completed grade 2; however, she reads at a higher level and has had some writing and grammar. However, she is not a strong writer so I was hoping this wouldn’t be too overwhelming for her. It was not.
My daughter LOVES making up stories and reading but has been reluctant to write things down. After the first lesson she was upset because she didn’t get it perfect. This is what I was worried about. She feels that everything needs to perfect after the first lesson. But by the 3rd lesson we were doing much better at not getting upset and recognizing that her writing was a work in progress. Mr. Pudewa did a great deal in his videos to ease her stress at perfection and help her just write. This is definitely a positive in my opinion.
We watched the lessons together. She really liked Andrew Pudewa. The lesson plans are made for 5 days a week and show you samples and have examples of how to structure your week. The guide state that teachers should strive to cover all or most of the units during the school year; however, they do state that younger students may need to spend 6 to 8 weeks on a unit in order to fully grasp it. We did a 4 day week because that’s what we would do in our school year. This worked well and the lessons plans were easy to modify to make it a 4 day a week course. The lesson length differed based on how well the concept was grasped and how much revision was necessary from a previous lesson’s writing.
Mr. Pudewa won over Avarie as soon as he said that she could write in pen and didn’t have to worry about spelling right away or being neat and erasing. (This is where I needed improvement – not focusing on spelling or handwriting during writing.) She loved that she could just write and not worry about anything else. I realized that I needed to back off and just let her write. That helped a lot.
WHAT AVARIE THOUGHT
Avarie loved that she could just write and not try to spell and work on handwriting and all that. She liked the stories and enjoyed working on them. She must have really enjoyed the DVD seminar because she said “I sure wished we lived there so I could go to his class.”
After getting over my initial worry of the material being too overwhelming, I found this to be an excellent writing curriculum. I love that the DVDs do the teaching but I’m given the tools through my own DVD seminar to continue teaching and helping the right way.
Since we are a Classical Conversations family, I was anxious to get started on IEW since it will be used in the Essential’s program that we will be starting in 2014. We had never used IEW and using it this school year will give Avarie a solid foundation to begin Essentials in 4th grade.
You can purchase Teaching Writing: Style and Structure (TWSS) on their website for $169.00 and the Student Writing Intensive Level A (SWI-A) set for $109.00. You can save some money by purchasing the TWSS/SWI combo pack for $299.00.
If you are unfamiliar with their products, they have a great chart showing the progression of their coursework as well as articles about IEW products and why and how they work in their magalog, which you can order a copy of. There is some great information on their website as well.
Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew on this product as well as several other IEW products that the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed.