Thursday, June 11, 2015

A TOS Review: IEW (updated)

In the past, I might have referred to myself as a stalker. The subject of my stalking might have been Andrew Pudewa. Don’t worry. It’s not creepy at all. However, if I am at a homeschool convention and Andrew Pudewa is there I will be at every session he is down for. I don’t care if the session is entitled “How to Successfully Weave With Rubber Bands” (or some other such nonsense). Andrew Pudewa speaks the language of a busy boy. He understands how to encourage those mommas of busy boys.

Mr. Pudewa, of course, is the founder and director of Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). Though I have never seen a course on “Successful Weaving With Rubber Bands” they offer some truly special products. Over the past few years, I have been blessed to review a number of wonderful products from IEW. This time around I had an opportunity to review Teaching Writing: Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive Level B. This deluxe package is all from Institute for Excellence in Writing.


We received the newly updated Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) set. It contains the entire 12 DVD seminar as well as the seminar and practicum workbook. It also included a year of Premium Subscription which provides access to the entire teacher training course, student demonstration lessons at four levels and monthly webinar training. There are also PDF downloads and MP3 downloads of Andrew Pudewa’s conference talks.
Keep in mind that this set is for the parent/teacher. There is over 14 hours of instruction here. The first 9 DVDs cover the 9 units of instruction involved in the Student Writing Intensive. The remaining DVDs are videos of Mr. Pudewa teaching all 3 levels of SWI. It is wondermous! 

In addition to all this magic, we also received the Student Writing Intensive Level B (SWI-B). It contains 5 DVDS. 4 of the DVDs are actual lessons and the other DVD is a parent overview.  It also comes with a three ring binder and a student pack. The scope & sequence, teacher’s notes and student handouts are also included. SWI-B is intended for students who are working at the 6th-8th grade level.

How We Used It

I have always loved to write. I am one of those girls Mr. Pudewa refers to who could fill pages and pages when describing my pony. Not that I ever had a pony…that is a whole other issue (and blog post). Josiah is not a natural writer. In fact, he is dyslexic and struggles with dysgraphia as well. You can imagine the difficulties he’s had with the whole process. Thankfully, I have had IEW to help me along the way.

If you are looking for a program that has minimal teacher involvement this is not the program for you. But frankly, if your student is struggling with writing you need to get involved. I understand. You might not know where to even begin. The task is undoubtedly overwhelming.

The best investment in my opinion for the homeschool parent is the Teacher seminar (TWSS). This updated seminar is superb. I felt like I was having my own little homeschool conference in my living room…except that it included a hot cup of tea, my stretchy pants and an easy access to the restroom.

I would take a little time in the mornings to have a little "me time"...which also included an IEW seminar. Sounds about right to me!
This is just a page out of the workbook. I happen to be a doodler.

This is part of seminar. I love that I can see for myself the whole fuss is about.

The DVDs came in a really nice case. This is an update to the previous version. The video quality is terrific and I loved the interaction with the crowd. I just want to know why I wasn't invited. I am the official stalker, after all.


I can’t stress enough how beneficial this seminar has been to me. Mr. Pudewa explains fully his methods with samples and practical experiences.

The binder is really a life saver.  It is divided into helpful units and sections. There are recommended materials to use and tips on how to adjust the model for each grade level.  One of my favorite parts are the suggestions for special needs students

I hope I am not overwhelming you with all of my gushing. There is a lot of information that comes along with this program.  There are so many practical experiences. Mr. Pudewa models everything he teaches. I love to see what I am supposed to be learning!

You don’t have to sit down and watch the whole seminar at one sitting or groups of sittings. You can also watch a bit at a time just to stay ahead of your student. 

The Student Writing Intensive – Level B is specifically for the student. Josiah has enjoyed the lessons much as a student can enjoy schoolwork. Mr. Pudewa is engaging. Josiah can watch the lessons as many times as needed.

You can read more about the program by downloading samples . Basically, the syllabus is divided between the structure and style of writing. The structure portion is divided into nine units. You can move at whatever speed you wish…according to the ability and interest of your students. You can repeat the lessons again the following year.  The syllabus of style is taught throughout the units. The concepts are introduced one at a time. These concepts are modeled and worked through.

There is a suggested schedule that comes with the curriculum. I found that we moved a bit slower than what was suggested. This is perfectly acceptable with IEW. 

I really believe that every student on the planet needs to go through this course.  Let me give you just a little example of the genius involved. The student will actually have a list of banned words. These words have nothing to do with profanity or naughty books. Instead, they are discouraged from using words that commonly find their way into a student paper. One of these words is said. The student is not left hanging. They are given a list of words that might be used instead. They are encouraged to use a thesaurus and dictionary.  For example, the student might use exclaimed, spoke, whispered or, my favorite, hollered. ‘Cause that’s we do in the Ozarks. We holler.

The whole curriculum is just a smart way to learn to write. The students don’t have to rely on any instinctive creativity or natural ability.

Here are a few suggestions for those of you who worry that your special learner might struggle with the program.

They probably will. If your child is dyslexic you understand that there is not a magic fix.  However, the beauty of SWI is that it doesn’t require the student to conjure up creativity. It depends on a model and stylistic techniques. Learning to write a keyword outline took Josiah a lot longer to master than it might other students. However, it is a technique that has benefited him greatly. In fact, it has changed the way I write as well. Who knew?

One of the big lessons I’ve learned from Andrew Pudewa over the years is the benefits of modeling. I’m not talking about the high stiletto and moody eye kind of modeling (as if). This modeling concerns showing the student how something should look…or sound. What are the processes one takes to get there? I have started this process in every subject in our homeschool.

I now have Josiah write primarily in pen. This bit of wisdom can be found in the appendix of the TWSS notebook.  Josiah's concern was that what he was writing was dark enough. He would write entirely too hard and spend way too much time darkening his letters. He worried over them. The pen helps with some of his dysgraphia issues. It also requires him to think just a little bit more about what he is putting on the paper. You might have noticed this, but pen is not easily erased.

The video lessons have saved my life. These lessons have almost become a bit of teacher training. I realize it sounds funny from a gal who actually has taught. They don’t do this kind of modeling in teacher’s college. You might go and observe a classroom and a teacher, but the kind of training you get from TWSS is invaluable.

In my opinion you don’t to have the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style to work the method successfully. And vice versa. You can teach writing without the Student Intensive. However, they both have been invaluable tools for my homeschool.

Can you tell I kind of like both of these programs? They have been a wonderful fit for us. This curriculum is not just for special learners…any kind of student will benefit.

 You can connect with IEW via the following social media outlets.  Click on the banner below to read more reviews. The Crew reviewed lots of great products this time around!


IEW Review

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