Friday, May 13, 2011

Institute for Excellence in Writing

Some things you’re good at and some things you’re not. That’s just how it is. I’ve learned in my homeschooling journey of 14 years what each of my children is a natural at, and what is a foreign concept to them. I have also learned what is easy for me to teach and what is hard, like math. But let’s not talk about that. Math makes me twitchy.

Language arts is our thing here in this house. Even with two of my four children being dyslexic; we are a word family. Both of my daughters (one of which is dyslexic) write stories, fables, poems, and have written for our homeschool co op newspaper.

Being that we are a language arts family, I was beyond thrilled that I had been selected to receive the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s, Teaching Writing/Student Writing Intensive Combo Pack Level B

This is what I saw when I opened my box.

I was a bit overwhelmed, but then I saw this…whew, okay. Step by step instructions on where to start. Sort of like the ‘You are here’ on a map.

And this for setting up the student binder.

Here is how it’s described on IEW’s website…

This combination package is the best way to begin with Excellence in Writing. It includes Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS), Tips and Tricks DVD and Student Writing Intensive (SWI). Comes with 2 sets of DVDs (one for the teacher, one for the student), TWSS Seminar Workbook, and Student Notebook with handouts and daily lesson suggestions.
B (Grades 6-8)
Price: $239.00
Level B is appropriate for teachers and parents of students in grades 6-8. It may also be used for those teachers and parents who are teaching multiple levels.

If you go here you can watch several sample videos of Mr. Pudewa teaching, and see several sample documents of the program.

I watched the DVD for the teacher as instructed and learned a GREAT DEAL. I found him engaging and funny. At one point in the teacher DVD Andrew Pudewa says this…

“One of the completely great things about the syllabus is that it is not a subject unto itself. Writing should not be a subject over here on the side that we do when we can, while we’ve got to do our math, and science, and history, and literature, and bible, and oh, by the way we’d better do some writing here. No, writing must become a part of the study of history, and science, and literature, and bible; whatever it is you want to teach your children. They should read about it, they should talk about it, and they should write about it. That’s how we learn.”

I could not agree more. That is what I love about this system. It’s not a new thing to learn, a new thing to add to my already overburdened homeschooling schedule, but something to incorporate in, that will complement what I am already teaching! But don’t get me wrong, there is a learning curve. I think I have been doing with my children, something very similar to what is taught by IEW, at least in the beginning. It is the idea that you take literature and copy it. See what works and what does not and then model what works. The difference with IEW is that they tell you exactly why something works. You take it apart (via keyword outlines) and then put it back together. Frankly, this is taking what I have been teaching my children, to a whole new level that I would not have thought to teach.

I’ll not say it’s all been rainbows and lollypops. It’s hard to take something you already know, that you’re already good at, and slow it down, looking at the details and minutia of what makes it good or bad. My daughters balked somewhat against this. However, I can see how it has been good for them to see the WHY. I mentioned that because I think this system is wonderful for the reluctant writer. It takes the guesswork out of how to write. It is also good for the great writer, even though it’s a bit more difficult in my opinion, to slow down, go back, and start over.

IEW is a very thorough curriculum. It teaches the teacher how to teach writing and it teaches the student how to write. Teaching Writing/Student Writing Intensive Combo Packs are not inexpensive; however, I think they are very much worth the money especially for those just starting out in with homeschooling, as they can be used for student after student. There is also a very helpful and active Yahoo group dedicated to IEW.

You can go here to learn more about the Institute for Excellence in Writing, and here to see what others on The Crew had to say about IEW. Those of us on The Crew were sent different things from IEW, so if you are interested in another product they put out, or a different grade level, pop on over to The Crew’s site and look for those specific reviews.

Happy Homeschooling!

1 comment:

Denise said...

Excellent review! I so wish I would have received the TWSS!! I LOVE the SWI Level C- it is something I have wanted for a few years now!