The Institute for Excellence in Writing- Student Writing Intensive Level C

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Here at Smooth Stones Christian School, we are big fans of The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). I was given the Student Writing Intensive for Group C. Group C is for students 8th grade and up. While I didn't actually use this curriculum this year with my students, I will for sure use it next year. And we have used IEW in the past for writing. My oldest daughter had already completed her required amount of writing for high school and was in the middle of writing a novel and completing a grammar course. My 8th grader was not ready for the program yet and I didn't want him in tears. He now is ready and I look forward to using this complete program either this summer (we school year round) or next fall with him.

I actually have this series on VHS tape. I was also given the DVD called Structure and Style Overview that sells for $10 to review. It is very informative and necessary to watch before trying to start this program. In addition to the 4 set DVD that has enough material for a year or a semester- depending on your pace- I received a copy of a portable wall. The Portable Wall contains handy information to use as a guide while you write. It takes the place of hanging posters in a classroom, but is a "take with you anywhere" guide with a pocket inside to store papers as well.  The cost is $7. I probably would just make extra copies of the material included in the wall and attach to the inside of their notebooks, somehow. Also, my children use their computers for most of their writing assignment. So, it would be more fitting for our family to refer to this information online. I can see how it could come in very handy in situations when you need a quick reference, though.

Each student should have their own notebook with their own worksheets. It is easy to keep this in a 3 ring binder. Pages can be copied for individuals within the same family.

The teacher, Andrew Pudewa,  is humorous, entertaining, easy to listen to and has an all around engaging manner. These are not qualities easily found in an average writing instructor. I have had many very good teachers in my life (and many not so great), but have found very few who can hold the attention of just about any age and makes you want to keep listening and watching.

Each DVD has all the contact information for their website: and their phone # as well (800) 856-5815, so it is easy to contact someone if you need to, without even starting the DVDs. I had expected maybe a redoing or updating from the VHS tapes, but it seemed the same. I wonder if some would discount the program because it does not look up to date. There seems to be a disconnect between how professional and wonderful the teaching is and the outdated appearance. I know the material hasn't changed since the first filming, but I often think something polished looks that way . I also found their website a little slow and sort of hard to find things on, but am not sure I am supposed to actually be reviewing that. I just think if I had stumbled on the course accidentally, I wouldn't have looked into it. For instance, I tried to use the FAQ section, but all questions and answers  for all the different materials were in one place. I never did find an answer for my question.

I hope this doesn't sound like I am unhappy with IEW. Quite the opposite is true! I love their programs and find this course easy to use and very worthwhile. I believe this course should be used by all families. The cost of $99 for each level is well worth the expense. I know that might seem out of the budget for some. However, I feel confident you will be very happy with the courses offered and they also fully guaranteed.

The IEW products I mentioned were provided to me for free through The Old Schoolhouse Review crew in exchange for my honest opinion.


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