Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) {review}

Next to teaching my children how to read, for me writing runs a very close second as a very important skill they must learn. I do not expect them to write novels that rival the word count of Clarissa: or, The History of a Young Lady (969,000 words) or the content interest of a seedy tabloid, but having the ability to take their thoughts and put them onto paper into an orderly and understandable presentation is a definite goal. After spending quite a few months using curriculum from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, I believe that I have found my tool for ensuring that my children will have an excellent foundation for bringing their words together and sharing their thoughts through their writing.

“Take African History and you will learn to write well.” That is a funny statement to make (and write), but essentially, that is how this curriculum began. Originally, the information taught in the writing course was part of the curriculum for a history class taught by African studies Professor James Webster. He spent a portion of each class covering basic writing skills before getting into the actual history lesson because he found that many of his college aged students had poor writing skills.

After “tweeking” his writing lessons over the years, Dr. Webster eventually offered the writing program, Blended Sound-Sight Program of Learning, as an 11-day-teacher training course that focused on the structure and style in composition. It is at this training where Mr. Pudewa (who took the course several times) met Dr. Webster. Having received encouragement from others and permission from Dr. Webster, Mr. Pudewa took the 11-day training, pared it down to a two-day seminar and began offering it to homeschool families. You can read more details because it is a really great story.

Along with the writing program, additional curriculum is offered including, but not limited to the following:
Primary (K-2)
Literature & Poetry
Excellence in Spelling
See all product offerings

We had the opportunity to review the Student Writing Intensive Level A program which is geared towards students between the 3rd and 5th grades. Although the curriculum is focused on material usually taught during those particular grades, a good point was made by Mr. Pudewa is that the curriculum is appropriate for any age of student.

The main concept of the writing program is for the student to use key words found in a paragraph or body of work and rewrite the story in his own words without copying the original writing. Depending upon the age and ability of the student, they will already know or learn ways through the writing intensive lessons to add more content using “dress-ups,” giving attention to sentence and paragraph structures, etc. while following a checklist of the information that should be used in his writing.

The Student Writing Intensive Level A package comes with the following:
• four DVDs
• a binder with dividers
• a packet with the teacher notes, student handouts and checklists

We also received a DVD of the Structure and Style Overview and a portable wall.

The four DVDs collectively contain 15 writing lessons that can be covered over a 15-30 week period depending upon the learning comprehension of your student. Each video lesson is taught by Mr. Pudewa and lasts approximately 40-60 minutes long. Following the video lesson, the students are to work on the writing assignment(s) which reinforce the material taught in each lesson. All of the writing assignments include a composition checklist of items that should be included in the assignments.

You can get an idea of some of the topics covered on the first four DVDs:

Disc One
The lessons cover key word outlines, summarizing from notes, “dress-ups” introduction, choosing a title, strong verbs, and banned words (ex: said, see/saw, go/went)

Disc Two
The lessons cover more banned words, quality adjectives, story sequence, and a review of titles.

Disc Three
The lessons cover more banned words, changing adverbs to adjectives, adverbial clause, and report writing.

Disc Four
The lessons cover a review of “dress-ups,” new banned words, and creative writing.

Andrew caters directly to the needs of the student and it is so apparent in the presentation of the lessons. The step-by-step approach eliminates a lot of confusion for the student about not only what to write, but how to write it. This new understanding could also spark an interest in writing in a child who dreaded the whole experience because of his inability to create the words on his own and now has a concrete plan and tools for discovering those words and putting them together. Every student has the ability to write. This writing intensive program gives him the right tools to write. It bridges the gap between the ideas in a student’s head and the paper and brings them all together into a comprehensive writing.

Everything, and I mean everything, is planned for you and there is also a teacher (Mr. Pudewa) included. The only bit of preparation is to put together the student binder.

The teacher notes, which are extremely helpful with teaching the course, include instructions for setting up the teacher notebook, scene breakdown of the four DVDs, and suggested course schedule (which was very handy).

For some of the longer DVD lessons (closer to one hour), we watched them over a two day period and then continued with the writing assignment(s). I really wanted to be sure River understood the process of excellent writing. Since this is building a foundation, I want to be sure he understands everything. I will not say that he now wants to write his first novel, but he now has a plan for all of the words swirling around in his head and can put them onto paper in the same manner he coherently narrates them to me.

The portable wall is a helpful resource to have and River referred to it when needed.

I love, love, love this program and plan to continue it through with River and with Lily and Canyon when they reach the age for learning the material. Even though Mr. Pudewa teaches the lessons, I suggest that you watch each lesson before (rather than watching them the first time with the student) presenting them to your student for a couple of reasons. The first reason is to ensure you have a good understanding of the material your student will be learning. The second reason is so you can make any adjustments in the presentation of the material (“using alternative paragraphs or stories or other materials from your current class studies“) as needed.

I really like Mr. Pudewa’s style of teaching (he is also quite funny) and the approach of the program. There are a lot of points presented about writing that I learned in my studies for my degree in English. This is a very thorough and comprehensive writing program that covers everything a student needs to know to write well. Even an adult who struggles with writing can benefit from this program.

All gender bias aside, BUT when Andrew mentioned that usually girls preferred writing more than boys – referring to girls as 18-pagers (writing pages and pages of stuff) compared to a boy who would rather clean toilets two times over than write – I had to laugh. Lily is definitely an 18 pager when it comes to writing, but I believe River would probably rather write a few paragraphs than clean toilets.

The Student Writing Intensive Level A is priced at $99 and I have to say it is definitely worth the price. You can learn more about the entire writing intensive curriculum. Also, if you would like to purchase the portable wall, then it is available for $7.

You can read more reviews of this item by fellow crew members on The Homeschool Crew Blog.

The product featured in this review was provided to me free of cost by the manufacturer or representing PR agency as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.
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2 Responses to “Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) {review}”

  • Comment from Dee

    Thanks for the review. We will be working on writing this summer and this is one of my top contenders!
    Dee recently posted..May 11

  • Comment from anna-marie

    What a thorough review. Coming over from the crew as I am a newbie. I am even more interested in purchasing this program…just have to convince my husband that it is worth the expense…might send him over to read your review:) thanks
    anna-marie recently posted..Thank you Mom and Dad

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