Wednesday, May 10, 2017

High School Essay Intensive (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review)

High School Essay Intensive - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

We had the very timely opportunity to review the updated High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing as we're wrapping up our school year. This is one of our favorite curriculum publishers, so we were sure of another great experience.

Institute for Excellence in Writing
Having reviewed writing programs from Institute for Excellence in Writing in the past, we were familiar with the teaching style and high quality we could expect. We've reviewed and used the Student Writing Intensive Level B and Level C, as well as Fix-It! Grammar; and we also reviewed and enjoyed their Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization program. (Read our previous reviews: Student Writing Intensive Level C and Fix-It! Grammar and Student Writing Intensive Level B; and Poetry Memorization with Institute for Excellence in Writing)

In this 2016 version of the High School Essay Intensive they bring their award-winning approach to writing and grammar to a workshop that focuses on developing the essay writing skills students will need as they head to college. Students continue to add to the Structure and Style writing model that IEW teaches, adding more sophisticated writing tools to their toolbox, and building confidence in their ability to succeed in the essay portions of the SAT and ACT, and in the types of essays required in college.

Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive

We received the full High School Essay Intensive package, which includes five DVDs of instruction (total of 6.5 hours), the Student Handouts, and Portable Walls for the Essayist. Included with the package is access to the stream video of the workshop at the IEW website. This is the same material on the DVDs, so you have a choice of how to view the workshop taught by Andrew Pudewa.

On the five DVDs, you will find topics like:

Part 1A: General Strategies for Essay Writing: Length and Structure
  • A Hurt and Rescue Operation
  • Two Questions Writers Need to Ask
  • Translating Assignment Length to Paragraphs
  • The TRIAC Paragraph Model
  • Essay Models
Part 1B: General Strategies for Essay Writing: Invention and Style
  • Canons of Rhetoric
  • Practicing Common Topics of Invention
  • Style
  • Literary Devices: Schemes and Tropes
Part 2: Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay
  • General Guidelines
  • Strategies for Planning, Writing, and Proofing
Part 3: Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay
  • General Guidelines
  • Annotating
  • Strategies for Planning, Writing, and Proofing
Part 4: Strategies for the Personal Essay
  • General Guidelines
  • Sample Essay Prompts
  • Strategies for Planning: Pop Out from the Crowd
  • Strategies for Writing, Editing, and Proofreading

High School Essay Intensive - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

The Student Handouts package includes the outlines for everything discussed in the video sessions, with ample room for the student to take notes, and the practice assignments. Portable Walls for the Essayist is a quick reference guide in a sturdy folder. It shows a list of the types of essays, essay models, reminders of the writing process and strategies, and a list of transitional words and phrases.

High School Essay Intensive - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

High School Essay Intensive - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

High School Essay Intensive - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

How did we use it?  We haven't yet planned for Kennady to write the ACT or SAT, but of course that's a distinct possibility in the near future. Since I felt that we hadn't done as many writing assignments as we should have during this school year, I wanted her to focus on practicing and honing her essay writing skills so we could finish the year with some high quality writing assignments. She'd completed the high school level Student Writing Intensive last year, so she was already familiar with the Structure and Style models of IEW - but just a bit rusty when it came to actually using those tools in a serious writing assignment.

We focused on Part 1 of the instruction. The very first page of the Student Handout contains the first assignment, which is an Initial Exercise giving the student two typical timed argumentative essay prompts. The student is to choose one and write an essay to the best of their ability in 20 minutes. The assignment is reiterated in the first segment of the video. We actually watched further into the video before Kennady tackled the essay, which may have been cheating a bit, because she heard Mr. Pudewa explain some of the strategies before she began writing! Believe it or not, she hadn't written a timed essay before, so she was a bit anxious about trying it. Turned out she did a great job with her initial essay, and presented a pretty good argument for two years of foreign language instruction as a requirement for high school graduation.

High School Essay Intensive - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

After she completed her assignment, she went on to watch the rest of Part 1A and most of Part 1B, taking notes and working on the practice assignments as she went. We found that it worked best to watch the streamed video on the laptop rather than watch the DVDs, so we were extremely glad to have that option!

High School Essay Intensive - A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

We also watched Part Four: Strategies for the Personal Essay. This section focuses on strategies and encouraging instruction for writing a stand-out personal essay for submission with a college application. The same strategies can be applied to other types of post-high school writing as well. Sample prompts are given and discussed, along with guidelines for determining target length, choosing topics, and writing appropriately for the audience. The final practice assignment is to choose from among the sample prompts and get that personal essay written!

What we liked best:
  • We love Andrew Pudewa's clear and engaging lecture style, with so much practical instruction in a very encouraging tone. He makes it easy to understand, and he makes it enjoyable with his sense of humor.
  • The Portable Walls are a wonderful invention, and we were glad to have this Essayist version of it with quick reference help.
  • Super practical instruction and practice. The general guidelines and strategies in Part One and the Personal Essay instruction in Part Four are valuable for all high school students, whether they are college bound or not. I previewed some of the ACT and SAT specific videos and they are also very practical, breaking down what can be an intimidating assignment into understandable parts so the student can feel well-prepared.
What I need to mention:
  • It's not necessary for a student to have completed previous courses from IEW, but if they have done so, they will already be conversant with some of the strategies and models, and will have a head start.
  • There are pros and cons to using the DVD or the streaming videos. We found the streamed videos worked better for us. Be aware that you have the choice!
Our bottom line: Another winner from Institute for Excellence for Writing! Kennady genuinely enjoyed working through the videos and assignments. As I mentioned, she started out with plenty of anxiety about whether she could write a decent essay on an unfamiliar topic while racing the clock, but the instruction she'd already received gave her the confidence and tools she needed to pull it off. She'll be doing a couple more practice assignments from this package before we end our school year, and we'll definitely make use of the ACT and SAT instruction later on, even if she opts not to write those tests.

Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive

Would an essay intensive course be helpful in your homeschool? Here's what you need to know:

Visit the Institute for Excellence in Writing website:
Learn more about the High School Essay Intensive.

Pricing: The package is available for $79. See the website for details.

Recommended Ages: Suitable for Grades 9-12

You can follow Institute for Excellence in Writing on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Twitter, and on YouTube.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews.

High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Don't miss a coffee break! Subscribe to Homeschool Coffee Break by Email!

 ©2006-2017 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

I have done my best to provide accurate pricing and links at the time this post originally appeared. Please be aware that these may change.


Post a Comment

I love comments! It's like visiting over a virtual cup of coffee.