Institute for Excellence in Writing believes that confident and effective communication skills are essential for students to learn, and produces materials designed to help teach those skills to students of all ages and abilities. The distinctive Structure & Style methods equip students to build written and oral communication skills, and improve critical thinking. It's an approach that develops confidence and creativity as the student learns nine structural models that help them in organizing their thoughts for any style of composition.
The Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C with Fix-It! Grammar 1 and 2 sounds like there's a lot to it, and there is! Included in this package were all of the following resources:
- Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD Set and Seminar Workbook
- Student Writing Intensive DVDs, Level C, including the Structure & Style Overview
- Student Notebook with handouts and lesson plans
- Fix-it! Grammar Books 1 and 2
- A Word Write Now
- Portable Walls
Let's take a look at each of the components and how we used them!
Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD Set and Seminar Workbook - As the parent/teacher, this is where you'll want to start. This is a set of twelve DVDS - nine are the TWSS seminar led by Andrew Pudewa, and three are student demo DVDs. The seminar presents, in detail, the entire TWSS method, starting with the basics of finding keywords and rewriting a paragraph, all the way to advanced creative writing and essays for high school students. This is so valuable and essential for the parent/teacher, no matter the age or grade or ability of your students. You will learn yourself how to do what you will ask of your students - find keywords, rewrite and retell information or stories, choose strong and expressive vocabulary, and effectively use varied sentence structures and literary devices. The instruction covers all nine structural models for writing, and many stylistic techniques. Over fourteen hours total viewing, but in my opinion it's never boring or tedious, because Mr Pudewa is such an engaging communicator!
With TWSS, we also received a Premium Subscription, which means one year's access to the streaming video and resources on the IEW website. The TWSS teacher training is included as streaming video, in its entirety, as are the sample student workshops. There are also monthly training webinars, audio MP3 downloads of some of Andrew Pudewa's most popular conference talks (I am definitely taking advantage of this feature, as I loved hearing him at CHAP a few years ago and wished that I had purchased recordings of all his sessions there!), and pdf downloads (I've made use of some of these already as well.). These resources are updated in July each year, so I am looking forward to seeing what will be new in just a few weeks!
A Seminar Workbook comes with the DVD set. This is the syllabus for the seminar, and contains charts, word lists, sample lesson plans, and many helps for implementing the materials. As I watched the DVDs, I could follow notes in the workbook, and there are very helpful samples of student work and FAQs all the way through, along with checklists and room for the teacher to actually do the work of writing! When my kids knew that I'd done it myself, they were more willing to listen to my suggestions or advice when they were stuck. The goals for each unit are given, the teaching procedure is outlined, and there are suggested adjustments for different grade levels and for ESL or Special Needs students.
If you're like me, you might be thinking something like, "No way do I have time to watch fourteen hours of this seminar before I can get my kids started on this!" Well, besides the good news that you will probably thoroughly enjoy the seminar, there's more good news - you don't have to watch all of it beforehand! You can watch them throughout your school year, if that works better for you. I do suggest watching at least the first one, and the sample Student Workshop DVD for the grade level you'll be teaching before your first session with your kids. The Student Workshop DVDs will help you get that first lesson off to a great start!
Student Writing Intensive DVDs and Student Notebook - The Student Writing Intensive DVD set is available for elementary grades, middle grades, and high school grades. We received the set for high schoolers, which is Level C. I love this so much, because it's so easy for me, plus my kids enjoy it! It's a four-DVD set with basically all the teaching done by Andrew Pudewa, so I just turn on the DVD and enjoy it right alongside the kids. All I really need to do is keep an eye on my Teacher's Notes (included!) to know when the pause the DVD so the kids can work on the assignment. My kids have done SWI before (we reviewed Level B a couple years ago - see my previous review) so they were familiar with many of the basic rules such as "No Erasing Allowed" and "Always Double Space", and they were already versed in other elements of SWI such as using who-which clauses and many of the dress-ups; so we were able to jump right in after setting up our student notebooks. (Level C is meant to be used by any high school student - they would not have had to use IEW previously in order to start in Level C.) We received one notebook with the set - it has a 3-ring binder and divider tabs, all the student hand-outs, and all the necessary Teacher's Notes. The course can be completed in either 15 or 30 weeks, depending on your preference, or you can adjust the suggested Course Schedule to suit your needs. We are working on it for a few more weeks, then we will take a summer break before finishing the course next school year.
My students were able to follow along with the class in Mr Pudewa's workshop, taking notes and completing the same assignments. I want to emphasize that there are no complaints about them doing this. (That might change if I try to keep them going all through the summer, so I will give them a break!) They pay attention to the DVD and apply themselves to doing their best work on the writing assignments.
The student will need a two-pocket notebook with three-hole fasteners (if using the downloadable version of the Student Book) and a single-subject blank spiral notebook for their work. The instructions state to work on one sentence per day for four days and then copy the corrected sentences into the blank spiral notebook. The sentences combine to form a story, so when the student has finished the Fix-It! book, they will have a complete story written in their own hand.
In the morning the soldiers, who were dumbfounded by the events of the night before, shared there/their/they're stories of the little man.
What we liked best:
- okay... everything?!
- Seriously though. I LOVE that I get to be in Mr Pudewa's class, and that my kids get to be in his class! He is an outstanding teacher, and even though we are watching a recorded session, there is a sense that he connects so well with students of all ages. He balances humor and high expectations, empathy and challenge in just the right amounts. Naturally, it's a blessing to me as a homeschool parent to have a master teacher present the material so that I don't have to pretend to be an expert in everything.
- everything we received is easy to use, with clear explanations and instructions for the teacher.
What I need to mention:
- Already own the 2000 version of TWSS? Find out what was updated in this 2015 version, and how to purchase the Second Edition Upgrade. You can also order the DVDs only if you already own the Seminar Workbook.
Our bottom line: Yes, I was already a big fan of Institute for Excellence in Writing after having been through the Student Writing Intensive Level B with my students. Now that I have experience using Student Level Intensive Level C and Fix-It! Grammar, I am ever more impressed and delighted with these resources that are easy and enjoyable to implement, yet produce truly excellent results. I warmly recommend IEW for all homeschool families.
Visit the website: http://IEW.com/
Check out the articles on the IEW blog.
Pricing: The Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C with Fix-It! Grammar 1 and 2 that we received is available for $299. Components can also be purchased separately, and Student Writing packages and products are available for other grade levels as well.
Recommended Ages: The Level C package we used is best for Grades 9-12. Fix-It! Grammar books are suited for Grades 3-12 and most students should work through the books in order no matter what their grade level. See the Fix-It! Grammar pages on the website for more information and for a placement test.
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