Friday, May 13, 2011

TOS Crew: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Way back when in my homeschool journey, I detested the idea of utilizing the computer or the television for any large chunk of our education. I also did not want our school to simply look like we were doing school at home.  And for most of our homeschool journey, that has served us well.

However, what I am finding as my children have gotten older, I have rather enjoyed utilizing these very methods (eegads).  Especially the DVD player and the computer!

Enter in the amazing writing program Institute for Excellence in Writing with Andrew Pudewa. If you have been homeschooling for any amount of time, and have researched writing curriculum options, this program is on the top of many peoples list.  So, why haven't I tried it up until now?

I will be honest with you.. it was the cost. We have a miniscule budget for homeschooling, and while we could have fit this in, I was leary of spending this kind of money, and have it not work. My children are not a fit in the box kind of group.... so I never dove in and made the purchase!

Here is where I would like to proclaim.. God is good!!!!

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew line up this year was IEW! And praise the Lord, I was able to be on the list and review this writing program, that  I have heard so much about.

I followed the suggestion, that if you had never used IEW  and children are older to choose Level B. So that is where our family started. We also planned on teaching multiple grade levels. Now, typically this level is for grades 6-8. However, if your child has had limited writing instruction, or you are new to this program, it is, indeed,  a good place to start.  I do believe we made the right choice, however, in the beginning my older students took issue with younger students in the video. However, that was soon dismissed and we were able to proceed with the program unhindered!

So first, let's look at what we received in our package. Our family reviewed Teaching Writing/Student Writing Intensive Combo Pack Level B

Teaching Writing Structure and Style

We received a notebook of notes and reference material and  10 DVD's.  7 of the DVD's are teaching the parent, and 3 are demonstration classes, where the parent can watch Mr. Pudewa teach.  One DVD for each age group.   The teachers set is designed to equip you the homeschool parent with all the skills you need to teach structured writing to your students.  It is abundantly clear that there has been much care taken in the production of the Teacher's Program.  It is key that you the homeschool parent have the tools in your toolbox to equip your children with the tools they will need to complete the program, and ultimately achieve success in writing.

At the end of this seminar, you will have all the skills and tools needed to teach structured writing to your children.  However, if you feel that you need some more help.. or an extra boost... that is where the Student Writing Intensive comes in.

Here you can see a video of Mr. Pudewa discussing Teaching Writing Structure and Style.

Student Writing Intensive

Once again we received a notebook of materials for the student, as well as, DVD's for the student to watch.  This is again in a seminar format. Mr. Pudewa is teaching a 4 day long writing seminar to actual students.  Your students will be attending the seminar right along side the students in the video.  Instruction, explanation and directions will be given by Mr. Pudewa, and while the DVD  is paused your children will complete the work. The same amount of care that was put into the Teaching Writing Structure and Style, has been taken with The Student Writing Intensive.

Here you can see Mr. Pudewa discussing the Student Writing Intensive.

Portable Wall

The portable wall serves as a place where your students can have the word lists they have been learning at their fingertips. It is a tri-fold folder that also serves wonderfully as a divider on a table if you have more than one student working, to give them privacy, or to help them concentrate if they are easily distracted.


Here you can find a quick start guide, as well as, a sample from Level B.

Our Thoughts

Something that I learned years ago is that writing is a very difficult process for anyone, let alone special needs kids, of which we have a few. I  believe that I first learned this while learning about Charlotte Mason and her methods. Putting pen to paper, requires many steps that most children, especially special needs kids, have a difficult time navigating.  The child must have a thought, then verbalize that thought in their head, to see if that thought makes sense. Then they need to construct that thought into sentences and then write them down.  This is why so many children have blank page syndrome,  they simply cannot get started with writing words on the paper.

IEW knows this, and takes out this step initially, by giving the child what to write. Not an assignment, as in go write a paper about  _________. However, with IEW, the student is using a source text, learning how to construct outlines by pulling out keywords, and then rewriting it  in their own words.  These skills are taught in small enough chunks that even a struggling learner will understand and be able to follow along. If you do not have a struggling learner, and your child is excelling, then you can move the pace a little faster.  From this starting point, your child will be given a methodology on how to construct thoughts, and then translate that into written work.  Through the course they will learn to do this with reference material, for research papers, and writing from pictures, to name a few. Ultimately transitioning them to the blank page.

Overall, our family was very pleased with IEW. We enjoyed watching the Mr. Pudewa teach. His style is very personable, friendly and relate-able. We used the program with 4 of our children ranging in age from 11 -16. Some of those children do have special needs and had a few struggles and bumps along the way. However, all in all, as we worked through IEW at our pace, which was a couple of weeks or so to do each lesson, they all have improved in their writing abilities.  They other by product of using IEW that I have noticed is that it has helped their reading comprehension in general. They look at stories that they are reading in a different way altogether.

Below you will see a comparison chart for each of the levels of the Student Writing Intensives.

If you have been contemplating purchasing IEW, like I was for many years, yet you let the price keep you from doing so. Let me strongly urge you, to take the plunge! Your children will greatly appreciate the skills they will learn from Mr. Pudewa and you will be grateful to have laid a strong foundation for them to build on. Our family intends to purchase Level C next year!

You can purchase the Combo pack that I received for $239. The portable wall sells for $7.

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about IEW.


1 comment:

  1. Great review of IEW -- it's definitely on my list for next year. After hearing all of the positive words about it on the crew and now reading so many reviews, I've decided to take the plunge. I'll probably why I let cost stand in my way for so long.