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Schoolhouse Review: Excellence in Writing

Excellenc in Writing
I was super excited to be one of the reviewers for Excellence in Writing. I have read many positive things about their writing program and have wanted to use this with mainly my 12 year old son Caleb but also Brent (11yr.) and Ethan (10yr.) as well.

I received Teaching Writing/Student Writing Value Package Level B. This is everything you need to get started.

What is included in this amazing package ($249):
  • 10 DVDs for the parent to watch
    DVD 1: Overview of Structure and Style, Units 1-2 Note Making and Summarizing from Notes
    DVD 2: Stylistic Techniques: Dress Ups, Unit 3: Summarizing Narrative Stories
    DVD 3: Stylistic Techniques: Sentence Openers, Unit 4: Summarizing References & Writing Reports
    DVD 4: Stylistic Techniques: Advanced Dress Ups, Unit 5: Writing From Pictures
    DVD 5: Unit 6: Writing Reports from Multiple Sources & Unit 7: Creative Writing with Structure
    DVD 6: Unit 8: Essays: Basic, Extended, and Super. Unit 9: Critiques, Conclusion
    DVD 7: Tips & Tricks for Teaching Through the 9 Units
    DVD 8: Student Writing Workshop Elementary Level (Grades 2-4)
    DVD 9: Student Writing Workshop Intermediate Level (Grades 5-7)
    DVD 10: Student Writing Workshop High School Level (8-10+)
  • TWSS Seminar Workbook (for the parent/teacher)
  • 5 DVDs for the student
    DVD 1: Units 1-2
    DVD 2: Unit 3
    DVD 3: Unit 4
    DVD 4: Creative Writing Sentence Openers
    DVD 5: Structure and Style Overview
  • SWI Student Notebook
Structurestyleset
Where to start on this wonderful writing program? How about the Teacher DVDs. At first I thought this was going to be overwhelming. I mean there are 10 DVDs!!!

Ten is a lot but you don’t have to sit and watch them in one night. In fact if you like you can watch them as you move your child through the course. This is fine IF you don’t wait until the last minute. 
What is really helpful is in the Student Notebook there is a schedule in the SWI Level B Teacher’s Notes. If you plan ahead you will know when to watch the DVDs and what section as well. Because I’m reviewing IEW I watched them within a week but I know me and most likely would have checked the schedule and  have watched what was scheduled over the weekend.

In the Teacher DVDs Mr. Pudewa walks the parent/teacher through the whole program. I love this because like having someone hold your hand on how to teach each unit.

With the student DVD I thought for sure my kids were going to groan and become antsy, wrong! First I’d like to say my kids loved, loved, Mr. Pudewa. He made them laugh a few times. In Brent’s own words, “He’s funny mom!” and Caleb commented, “I like this writing program”.

Mr. Pudewa is teaching to a class and this made it feel for my children like they were participating with the children. We would pause the DVD when a question was asked so my children could answer too. Caleb, Brent, and Ethan would get excited if one of the children in the ‘class’ said the same sentence as them. Again, that made them feel as if they were part of Mr. Pudewa’s class.
Level B
The program can be used in a 9 month school year but of course you want to go at your child’s pace.
There are 15 lessons and each lesson can take up to two weeks depending on your child. With my boys some lessons took up to three weeks. With each new concept (dress-up) learned you want your child to feel comfortable with it before moving on.

Each concept builds on the previous one. Excellence in writing calls the dress-ups. With lesson 1 your child is shown how to make a Key Word Outline by choosing three words from each sentence in a paragraph.

You then have your student put away the original paragraph but keep his/her Key Word Outline (KWO), look at the words he wrote, and give you a complete sentence. He then can write his rough draft (double spaced and with a pen).

The Student Notebook comes with reinforcement Material so your child can practice making a Key Word Outline and summarizing. You are encouraged to have your child practice this in other subjects as well so he is learning to write across the curriculum.
Reinforcement Material
As you work through the program with your child Dress-Ups are added. Next your child will  learn how to add some interesting adverbs or as Mr. Pudewa calls them “-ly” words. By the time your child gets to the end of the course he will comfortably and with confidence be able to write using strong verbs, quality adjectives, know how to write a good sentence opener, and so forth.

What I love about this program you are to teach each new concept and let your child practice it across the curriculum and are not to move on until your child is comfortable with the new concept.
I also like the structure of the program. The Teacher Notes make using the program so much more doable for me. I’d be lost and overwhelmed without them.
SWI Level B
I will say that this is not an open-and-go writing program. You do need to be prepared and watch the Teacher DVDs so you can instruct and guide your child through the program. Having the Student DVDs is wonderful because Mr. Pudewa does the teaching but the parent still needs to do their homework as well.

Through the review I watched and sat with Caleb, Brent, and Ethan and at first I was very involved with the pausing and such. Toward the end of the review they were doing more of this on their own. I would tell them how far to watch so they knew when to stop the DVD.

We did not watch the DVDs every day because after they were introduced to the new concept they need to practice it. With my children sometimes we took the remainder of the week practicing this. First using the Reinforcement Material and then using their science book to practice writing.

I was grateful that Excellence in Writing made is possible for me to use SWI Level B with my Level A student Ethan by providing Level A Reinforcement Source Text and Checklists for Use with SWI Level B as a free download at their website.
Level A
Speaking of Ethan, he was not too crazy about IEW, but he doesn’t like anything related to school, period. With him lessons took longer and I had to slow down. He was able to do the work but at a slower pace. It took him longer to feel comfortable with the dress-ups and I expected this with him being younger.
Caleb Writing
My final thoughts about Excellence in Writing, it’s organized and Mr. Pudewa walks you through the whole program. You can watch the teacher DVDs over again if you need a refresher or feel you don’t quite understand something.

You can view samples by visiting Excellence in Writing. You will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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