TOS Review: IEW Teaching Writing Structure & Style + Student Writing Intensive C
If there is one subject that I feel inadequate to teach, that subject would be writing. I’ve been formally home schooling since June of 1999 when my oldest daughter turned 4 years old. For 12 years I have hunted and searched for some program or resource that I could use to teach writing skills to my children.
I didn’t lack assignments, I lacked instruction. Program “X” would assign writing 8 sentences, yet leave me wondering how do I teach them how to write 8 sentences? Another program would tell me that my children needed to write everyday and that writing everyday would be the key to learning how to write, but they failed to tell me what to write or how to write. My children didn’t know HOW to organize their thoughts. They didn’t know WHAT to write. Still other programs required so much “coaching” and “mentoring” that I felt I had no time left to teach any other subjects never mind the fact that I didn’t know how to coach or mentor!
Despite my desire to make writing a priority, I feel I failed. Oh how I wish I had found Institute for Excellence in Writing years ago! I wish I knew then what I know now. It is possible to have a writing curriculum that teaches writing in a step by step process while developing critical thinking skills and create a coaching or mentoring relationship with the student.
For the past several months we have been using IEW’s Teaching Writing Structure and Style along with Student Writing Intensive C. We also received a Portable Wall. Let me tell you a little bit about each of these products:
The Portable Wall is a tri-fold file folder with all the information you are supposed to put on the classroom wall. Info such as the Story Sequence Chart or the list of Dress Ups. It has lists of –ly words and synonyms for “Said”. This handy portable tool puts the info right in front of the student at eye level so they have it when and where they need it to complete their writing assignments. I didn’t think we would need or use this but it has been so helpful and handy to have around.
Teaching Writing Structure and Style is a DVD seminar designed to teach teachers and parents how to teach writing. The TWSS consists of 10 DVD’s. The first 6 DVD’s cover the 9 units. There is a Tips & Tricks DVD for teaching through the 9 units. The next 3 DVD’s are student workshops: Level A for grades 2-4, Level B for grades 5-7, Level C for grades 8-10+.
The TWSS 3-Ring Binder contains all the handouts from the DVD seminar. It also includes sample lesson plans for each of the 9 units and samples of student writings. The teacher will also find hand outs of the information for wall charts This information is on the Portable Wall but it is nice to have it on a full sheet of paper when going through the unit. IEW included lots of information in the Appendix such as “Student Workshop Source Texts”, “Lesson Planning” and more!
The “Structure” portion of TWSS is divided into 9 units. Units are presented in a logical order and build upon each other. The “Style” of TWSS is taught “throughout the units at the speed with which the students can understand and utilize it. Techniques are introduced one at a time.” (TWSS p 1)
The Student Writing Intensive is a DVD Seminar preparing students to write with structure and style. I received Level C which is for “Advanced Intermediate/High School Age Students”. SWI is described as a video seminar for high school students. According to the “Overview” SWI was “produced to give parents and teachers a jump-start for teaching writing to the their students by providing direct instruction for the students or model lessons for the teachers”. This Video Seminar course includes 4 DVD’s and a 3 Ring-Binder which contains all the handouts and supplementary materials needed to teach writing to high school students. It even includes source text material! Also provided in the binder are “Scope and Sequence Chart”, “Time Signatures” for the DVD’s, and a Suggested SWI C Course Schedule.
I am the kind of person who needs some structure. When travelling I need directions and a map. If I have those, then I feel comfortable making side trips and stopping for tourist attractions. For me SWI provides the structure or “driving directions” for teaching writing. I can use the suggested course of study. I know how to get there.
I needed the combination of both Teaching Writing Structure and Style, and Student Writing Intensive C. Although TWSS teaches me how to teach writing, I would have been overwhelmed without a specific set of writing assignments. I would have struggled with having to do prep work such as hunting for more source texts, preparing lessons, and creating assignments. SWI provided the structure I needed with lesson plans and source texts but it lacks the “big picture” map quality that TWSS has.
Although I lack confidence in my ability to teach writing, TWSS gives me that confidence. TWSS helps me to see the big picture and to understand what's going on in the SWI C. It also helps me to feel confident about slowing down and speeding up according to the needs of my students and has helped me to adapt SWI to my 6th grader (who can't quite keep at the pace of her 10th grade sister) and has given me ideas to use with my special needs dd. I *wish* had known how valuable the TWSS was years ago!
The Teaching Writing Structure and Style plus Student Writing Intensive C combo pack brings together the elements I liked from other programs. The combo pack has the structure of “write this many paragraphs and include this many dress ups” along with daily writing assignments and teaches me how to coach and mentor. I’m not left floundering wondering what I should be looking for in my student’s writing, nor am I at a loss as to what should be included in each paper.
I don’t just love IEW because it provides the “road map” and “driving directions” that I need, but I love how the approach can be used with all three of my “big” girls. I have one daughter that loves to write, another daughter that hates to write, and a third daughter who desires to write and likes writing but lacks the foundational skills. IEW has worked for all of them.
I wish I could say that my writing hating daughter now loves writing, but I cant. I can say though that she has enjoyed watching the DVD’s just as much as the rest of us. (Andrew Pudewa is an entertaining and encouraging speaker). I can also say that writing has become less of a chore for her. She may never love writing but she will have the skills to write well.
My daughter who loves to write is learning how to improve her writing and be more concise with her thoughts. She’s learning how to organize and structure her thoughts. Writing comes easily for her but editing is a skill she lacked. IEW is teaching her to revise and edit her papers by giving her specific things to check.
My daughter who wants to write is encouraged. She was afraid of college because she was afraid of writing papers. She enjoys writing and she is gaining the skills she needs to write well written essays. With these skills, she is no longer afraid of college papers.
I am so impressed with IEW that I purchased Primary Arts of Language: Writing for Supergirl and I plan on purchasing more IEW products this summer for our 2011-2012 school year.
June 10, 2015! IEW has revised and updated the Teaching Writing Structure and Style!
Read my review of the NEWLY UPDATED TWSS! Teaching Writing/Student Writing Value Package A.
Please check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about IEW products. Just click on the banner below!
Institute for Excellence in Writing generously provided Teaching Writing Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive C combo pack as well as a portable wall for review purposes.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.