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TOS Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Excellence in Writing
Institute for Excellence in Writing has updated their DVD Seminar and Workbook and we at Homeschooling6 have been fortunate to be one of the blessed reviewers. The company sent us everything we’ll need to get started with writing for both mom and students. This includes 2 years of grammar!!! Yes, I’m a little bit excited about this one.

We received the Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level A [Fix It! Grammar 1 & 2], talk about a package full of goodies!
Excellence in Writing Review
If you haven’t heard about IEW before it’s an amazing company that teaches writing Benjamin Franklin style. Mr. Pudewa’s daughter was reading a book on Benjamin Franklin and with excitement discovered that the way Mr. Franklin learned how to write was the way her father taught her. Now that would be pretty exciting!

Mr. Pudewa teaches writing using The Structural Models which is taught in 9 units. The first two units lay the foundation and the remaining units teach reports, research, essays, narrative, descriptive, and prompt based writing. In short narrative, expository, and easy writing.

Parents are encouraged to have the child(ren) write across core subjects. For instance with Ethan, I had him practice making a Key Word Outline (KWO) from a paragraph in his science and/or social studies text.

DVD Seminar, Workbook, and Premium Subscription (Second Edition): This set includes 9 Seminar DVDs!!! Mr. Pudewa walks you (the parent/teacher) through each step with teaching writing and style. T
The 9 Seminar DVDs include:
  • Unit 1: Notemaking and Outlines
  • Unit 2: Writing from Notes
  • Unit 3: Retelling Narratives Stories
  • Unit 4: Summarizing a Reference
  • Unit 5: Writing from Pictures
  • Unit 6: Summarizing Multiple References
  • Unit 7: Inventive Writing
  • Unit 8: Formal Essay Models
  • Unit 9: Formal Critique
Also included are 3 Student Demo DVDs, and a binder. This 12 DVD set is the heart of the program. Mr. Pudewa really goes into detail with how to teach IEW. I tried using only the Student Writing Intensive DVDs at one time and although it can work this way I found that by watching the Seminar DVDs I really understand how IEW works now.
Institute for Excellence in Writing
The DVDs really takes understanding the IEW writing process to a whole new level. For instance with adding the Dress-Ups he explains to only add one at a time. For example when adding the –ly dress-up have the child use that dress-up until it becomes easy. Once the –ly dress-up becomes easy then add another one like the who-which clause. You then will have your child continue to use the –ly but now they will add a new one as well.

If you continue on in that manner each new dress-up added won’t overwhelm the child because it’s only one new dress-up that they are learning since the previous one was mastered.

With this package you also receive a code to activate your Premium Subscription which gives you one year streaming video access to all the Seminar DVDs, PDF downloads, webinar access, and audio talk.

The PDF includes Mini Posters, Writing Source Packet, and more. All of these have come in very handy.

With the mini posters, I have them hanging in our living room where we school.
The Writing Source Packet, I’ve used the extra stories to give Ethan and Lance more practice with outlining, adding –ly, and who or which clause.
IEW Writing Source Packet
Student Writing Intensive Level A:
Not only does Mr. Pudewa teach the parents how to use IEW but he also has a set of DVDs for the students too! Well, mom does have to do some teaching, at least when using level A but having the Student Writing Intensive DVDs is a huge help (plus the kids love Mr. Pudewa!).

In this set you will receive a 4 DVD set. Level A is intended for grades 3-5. I am using this with my 4th and 6th graders.

This set comes with Teacher’s Notes which includes scene breakdowns of the DVD, course schedule by weeks, what you’ll need for each lesson, all the handouts (stories/paragraphs), and the student sheets.

The Teacher’s Notes are pretty awesome because all the planning is done for you. It shows what disc you will use, what student handouts are needed, if any reinforcement material is needed, when to review TWSS, and extra notes for the teacher.

If you are following the suggested schedule, each lesson will take two weeks (of course you can speed up or slow down with the lessons). While completing Lesson 1 the kiddos only watched the DVD once.

Lesson 2 (3rd week) points out that there is no DVD lesson because they are continuing what they learned in Lesson 1. So basically the first 4 weeks of starting IEW my boys only watched one lesson.

Fix It! Grammar:
You also get Fix It! Grammar in this package!!! Two years worth of grammar lessons. You’ll receive 2 physical books (Teacher's Manual): Fix It! Grammar:The Nose Tree and Fix It! Grammar Robin Hood and the downloads for the student books.
FIx It Grammar
Fix It! Grammar is really a unique and as my kids would say, cool way to learn grammar. All it takes is 15 minutes a day!

Instead of completing grammar worksheets your child will use real sentences from a story (an exciting story at that!). Each week there are new fixes for you child to correct in the sentences. At the end of the week they are required to copy all the sentences with the fixes.

By the time they complete Fix It! Grammar they will have written the whole story down. What an accomplishment that will be!

Also each week your child will add new grammar cards (provided). When working on a sentence your child will need to keep his grammar cards handy for reference. With Ethan and Lance we glued an envelop to the front cover of their Fix It! Grammar workbook.

Each Teacher Manual gives instructions with how to access the download for the student workbooks. I chose to purchase one for Lance. Ethan already owns a copy of the Nose Tree.
Fix It Grammar
A Word Write Now:
A Word Write Now is thematic thesaurus. We loved having this handy. It’s so much easier to use than a bulky thesaurus. This is one area that my kids didn’t like in the past when having to look up words, so having this more convenient thesaurus has helped tremendously!

In fact my older students who are using another writing program would take off with Lance and Ethan’s A Word Write Now. In the near future I hope to order a few more so each child will have their own.

Each theme in A Word Write Now has a 2 page spread. The left side includes the words for (I’ll use curiosity), a definition for that word, thoughts on curiosity, excerpts from classical literature, nouns, and noun characters.
 A Word Write Now
On the right side are the list of adjectives, adverbs, and verbs for the word as well as spacer for your child to add his own words.

Portable Wall:
I ordered an extra one so both Lance and Ethan will have their own.

The Portable Wall is a tri-fold with a pocket. It includes Dress-Ups, Sentence Openers, Decorations, Triple Extensions, –ly Adverbs, –ly Imposters, Prepositions, Synonyms for said, Strong Verbs, and Unit 1-5 charts! As you can see that tri-fold fits almost everything your child needs without decorating your walls.
Portable Wall
How we used Institute for Excellence in Writing: I used the Deluxe Combo Level A  with my 4th grade and 6th grade boys. Lance my 4th grader hasn’t had a whole lot of writing experience so this came at the perfect time.

We worked through the first three lessons. Basically all they are doing right now is writing a Key Word Outline, test the outline, write a paragraph from the outline, I correct it and have them write their final paragraph.

I am parking the boys here so they can practice the first two dress-up which for us is adding an –ly word and a who-which clause. I want them to practice, practice, and practice until it becomes easy for them before moving to lesson 4 where they will start adding a strong verb.

When the boys test their outline they include the two dress-ups that they are currently working on. I love watching them test their outline. It’s fun to see them thinking. I remind them to look up when they are ready to say the sentence they composed.
Key Word Outline

The boys watched two DVD lessons during the review period. The lessons are a bit long so on those days the completed the KWO along with Mr. Pudewa pausing when needed. The next day they would test their outline and write the paragraph.

Both boys are working through Fix It! Grammar. Ethan is not a big fan but loves that it doesn’t take very long. Lance is enjoying the story. I like how he will ask questions about the characters and/or what is going on.
Excellence in Writing Level A
I use to think that IEW was a lot of work because it seemed so overwhelming with all the DVDs and such. In reality, it really isn’t at all. Yes, it takes time to watch the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it does take time.

Remember though you don’t have to sit and watch the DVDs all at once. In fact in the SWI material there is a link that will take you a page on the IEW website. You can download a break down of the TWSS DVDs and take the weekends to watch them.

You don’t have to watch all 9 disc before starting IEW with your child(ren) either. I would recommend to at least watch the first disc and start teaching lesson 1. This way you’ve got some of Mr. Pudewa’s teaching under your belt and most of all you’ll get started.

The first two lessons will take 2-4 weeks to complete depending on the age of your child and how much he/she can handle. During those 2-4 weeks take the time to watch the rest of the Unit 2 teaching  and get started with watching Unit 3.

Why I like IEW: If you are like me and at one time thought IEW was just too much please take another look. By giving myself permission with taking the time to watch the TWSS DVDs it really isn’t as overwhelming as I once thought.
As long as you watch the TWSS unit before teaching it you’ll be alright, I promise. You don’t have to own TWSS to use SWI-A but believe me it really helps with understanding how to apply and teach IEW.
IEW
Preparing for the lessons is not a huge task either. The Teacher Notes list what you will need. The Student Book is reproducible for your family only. All you have to do is copy the student handouts and you are ready to teach.

What is super great is you can use Mr. Pudewa’s techniques across curricula. You teach IEW as a writing course but have your children practice in other subjects. Have them go through the process of writing IEW style by picking a few paragraphs from their history text (remember we are using Level A and just starting).

My final thoughts about IEW is we loved it. The kids didn't gripe or complain. They actually enjoyed writing their KWO. Mr. Pudewa is an excellent teacher.
IEW Review
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