June 20, 2011

Institute for Excellence in Writing - Turning Writing in to FUN

Starbucks LogoAndrew Pudewa is "the director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, a homeschooling father of seven, and a grandfather of three." I only had to hear Andrew Pudewa give a convention speech once to know that he "knew his stuff". Mr. Pudewa has mad language and speaking skills - and children adore the way he teaches writing. Not to mention, he's funny... which is an enjoyable trait in a teacher of any sort.

To be completely honest, I fell in love with the writing curriculum put out by Institute for Excellence in Writing long before I had a review copy. I drooled all over my friend Ammie's materials after flipping through them back in 2007 or 8... and she let me watch one of the videos at her house. She is the one who took me to his seminar session at a local conference back before I knew about IEW. After seeing him in person, I wanted Andrew's enthusiasm and expertise in my homeschool so the children could "catch his passion" for writing... and they could get the help they needed to know that there was a METHOD to writing -- and it wasn't "too hard".

As you can imagine, I was delighted at the prospect of reviewing the curriculum this past school year (we're still using it since our school year is year-round by necessity in this 'season' of our lives with tiny distractions in the mix). I can tell you that BOTH of my kids LOVE watching Andrew teach on video and have enjoyed their English / Grammar / Writing more this year than ever before. In fact, when I asked my 12 year old daughter to tell me what she liked, and what she didn't like about IEW, her response was...

"I don't think there's anything I don't like about it, Mama."

Even my fourteen year old BOY loves it. And did I mention? He's a BOY.

IEW Teaching Boys DVD

We started out with watching a MUST HAVE video entitled: "Teaching Boys... and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day" [Don't you just love his titles? You can find him at homeschool conferences giving amazing pep talks and mini courses on report writing and such -- and most of his titles are equally as catchy -- which makes sense in his line of work!] Teaching Boys was a huge hit with the kids. They sniggered with me and sat through the entire parent-geared seminar. It set them up for a really great start with IEW's video course materials because they already had the opinion that their teacher (which wasn't MOM for a change) would be FUN. Fun is a huge help when you are teaching a kid to write.

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style and the Student Writing Intensive (Combo Pack) was our next step... the teacher and student packs together came with two binders (I heart binders) full of material for both teacher and student(s). You would have to add your own binder or have your kids share a binder if you used the material with more than one kid - like I did. I just have them share the binder and file their work in the tabs together. Also included in Teaching Writing: Structure and Style is a set of 10 DVDs - 9 units on 6 DVDS, Tips and Tricks for Teaching, and 3 levels of the Student Writing Workshop (based on grade level - elementary, junior high or high school).

One thing I love about IEW is that once your child goes through the program, you can take the lessons and add your own subject matter - whatever you are learning about - and continue to get use out of the program. Probably my favorite thing about the program is that Andrew Pudewa is teaching it and not me. [I wish he did housework over here, too.] I can hear the big kids giggle and laugh while learning the skills they need to communicate well - all while watching and listening to someone who LOVES writing teach them on video. That's priceless, in my opinion -- well worth the cost of this writing program (which was more than I could afford when I first decided we really wanted it).

As for how the lessons fit in your homeschooling, here's a snip from the Teacher Instructions Manual:

"Each lesson offers a writing lesson followed by one or more writing assignments. Thus, a lesson is taught each week in one 45-60 minute session, then the student can spend the rest of the week working on the writing assignment and reinforcement exercises independently with help as needed. Depending on the pace of the student, it an take one to two weeks to complete each lesson."

The materials include a scope and sequence chart and suggestions on how to implement the course and supplement with your own topical materials as you are ready for more writing ideas. Composition Checklists (to inform the student of what is required in their finished written work) and handouts are provided to help with the lesson materials. The DVDs are broken down by segments and a list is given as to when to stop the lesson and begin working on your written portion of each session.

The suggested time frame for completing the course is around 30 weeks. It really depends on your child how fast or slow you should spread the lessons out, though -- and the class is so enjoyable, that it could be repeated at every stage of schooling - and finished off with the corresponding Writing Workshop depending on the age level of your child. This would be a super way to reinforce the skills they are learning.

The units for this program include:

Unit 1: Note Making and Outlines
Unit 2: Summarizing from Notes
Unit 3: Summarizing Narrative Stories
Unit 4/6: Summarizing Multiple References & Library Reports
Unit 7: Creative Writing
Unit 8: Essay Writing
Unit 9: Critiques

The program uses what they call "Blended Sound-Sight Written Communication Pathway" philosophy. The tenets of this philosophy are:

1. When children are given structural guidelines and specific requirements, they are more able to develop competency, independence and, as a result, creativity.

(Wow -- I bet I could incorporate that with my entire school assignment and chore list, too?!)

2. The teacher should introduce one concept at a time, model it extensively, and give numerous examples before requiring independence.

(Thank the Lord for video teaching -- and for IEW!)

3. As students become competent at applying one concept, the teacher may introduce another but should continue to require that each student use, in every composition, every technique used so far.

(This sounds reminiscent of the 'spiral concept' in math, no?)

4. For a high level of ability to develop, STUDENTS MUST PRACTICE WRITING DAILY. Shorter assignments given more frequently allow for faster progress through the syllabus.

(As with anything in life worth learning, daily practice will make perfect the skill! I'm so glad we are now implementing this in our homeschool and hope that my children will blossom as they continue to learn how to effectively weave the written word and communicate with the world!)

IEW's Teaching Writing: Structure and Style is an amazing tool - a thorough curriculum - and a helpful dose of enthusiasm which will give your students a LOVE of writing and an understanding of the "HOW" that they need to get those ideas on paper. As it says in the teaching materials:

"This program presents the teaching of writing in the classical sense, full of modeling, examples, techniques, and requirements. The checklist-based grading approach makes it possible for every student to be successful and show visible and significant improvements."

If I could sum up this entire review with just one sentence it would be: "I love IEW." Not just me, but my kids do, too! Don't take our word for it, though... visit some of the links below and do some more research -- listen to Andrew Pudewa speak with the free downloads on the IEW site -- visit the conferences and get up close and personal with the materials at the IEW booth! Remember, you don't have to pay shipping at conferences... and you are likely to get a discount, as well!

Get your homeschool write on!

NOTE: Leave a comment on each of my review posts this week and I'll be picking some winners to any and all of the products that some of these great vendors are offering. One entry per post, per person - enter by Saturday - random winner announced next Sunday the 26th!

Quick Links
Review Week at Sprittibee
Where to Order this Program: Teaching Writing/Student Writing Intensive Combo
FREE DOWNLOADS from IEW (includes hours of audio speeches by Andrew Pudewa; including homeschool encouragement and "Reaching the Reluctant Writer")
Convention Schedule: Where You Can See IEW Speak Next
 Compare and contrast Writing Curriculums with Homeschool Curriculum Advisor


MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

Andrew Pudewa is such a gentleman. I love hearing him speak and am also a big fan of IEW!

Jeniffer said...

This sounds awesome!! Even though I have several years before my 4mo will be ready for this, I'm hooked! (Of course, this also comes from an English Education graduate...) Thanks for sharing!

Kristal said...

I love IEW... but my boys take the class online from a great teacher in LA. All I do all week is help them with their lesson!

Sprittibee said...

Marsha - I know! Isn't he great? I love hearing him at conferences. I'm thrilled to be able to go to both Austin and Houston this year. I wish you were going to be there.

Jennifer - That's the way to go! Early planning! ;) They say if you don't plan, you are planning to fail. I wish I had started planning early.

Kristal - What a great idea! Email me more about it. I'd love to hear about it. I'm sorry for my big kids to be the guinea pigs of the family -- but I think I'll be a much better homeschool mom the second time around (with the 4mo old and the 2yo). Seems that junior high really threw me for a loop and I'm not sure I have recovered fully. :)

homeschooldawn said...

I love IEW, too! It has worked wonders for my fort builder. Andrew Pudewa really does understand boys. Thankful for his (and the whole IEW team's) work.

Anonymous said...

i'm definitely thinking hard about this. hopefully we can afford to do it this year, God willing. thank you for a great review. i am a mother of 4 boys who's oldest loves to write stories & make poems for us.

InnaC said...

I keep hearing such great things about IEW.

k balman said...

This sounds amazing! But I think my two are a little too young for it right now. But we could hold on to it for future use.

Annie said...

I have heard so many great things about IEW. I am absolutely going to check into it! Thank you so much for the review.

Kelly said...

Love the title...my boys would much rather build forts than write! Their sister will start IEW's new K/1 program this fall. Looking forward to it....
Thanks for posting.

pixie_bit said...

This sounds great - we are just starting out and I am kind of treading water right now..going to have too at this one. Thanks for the review!

Gwen T said...

I've heard so many great things about IEW but we've never tried it. Thanks for this great review, Heather.

char said...

Writing is most definately my sons LEAST favorite things to do. From the sound of things I guess that means he is a normal boy. I am sure gonna check this out and then wait to see it the Lord will provide a way for us to purchase it!

Kristy said...

This sounds like such a neat program. I enjoy reading about other people's curriculum choices. There are so many out there--it is nice to hear how hey work in other families.

Unknown said...

We are starting homeschool this fall, 1st grader and 5th grader. I'm nervous

griffinsheree (at) yahoo (dot) com

Stephanie said...

Alright, so I love IEW. I bought it for my oldest son, now 16. I thought I knew how to use the program but...I have writing phobia! It has been loaned out to others, they say it is wonderful too...but we can't quite seem to start using it.
My nine year old is READY! Maybe you or someone else can point me/boot me
to the starting line. I'm positive this is THE best way out there!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Sign me up!

US said...

You convinced me! I placed an order!



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