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Monday, July 1, 2013

IEW TOS Review

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I received two products from
 Institute For Excellence in Writing to review:


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Price:   TWSS  $169.00  ISBN: 978-1-62341-099-5

                 SWI $109.00     ISBN: 978-0-9840990-1-6
Level A - Recommended for grades 3-5.

What Is This? -

The SWI (Student Writing Intensive) is a writing curriculum for all students.  

There are three levels:  
Level A (Grades 3-5)
Level B (Grades 6-8) 
Level C (Grades 9-12).  

Note: This review will consist only of information on Level A (Recommend for grades 3-5) because that is what I received for review.  

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The SWI Level A set includes a binder with the materials needed for the course such as paragraph samples and teaching lesson plans / guide to follow.  

The set also contains 5 DVD's-

Disc One - Outlines, Summary, Dress-Up

Disc Two - Story Summary, Dress-Up

Disc Three - Reference Summary, Paragraph Structure

Disc Four - Creative Writing

Disc Five - Structure and Style Overview

Here is a sample of what the lesson plan looks like.

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There are step by step instructions to follow.

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The TWSS (Teaching Writing Structure Style) is a seminar type curriculum for the teacher / parent.  This teaches you everything you need to know to teach your student / children how to be a successful writer. 

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The TWSS contains a binder & 10 DVD's with step by step instructions.  It even has writing exercised for you to do so you can get a feel of what will be required of your student(s).  There are several examples on what to expect from your student(s) as well.

The DVD's in this set are:

Disc One - Overview of Structure and Style

Disc Two - Stylistic Techniques: "Dress-Up"

Disc Three - Stylistic Techniques: Sentence Openers

Disc Four - Stylistic Techniques: Advanced 
Dress-Ups, Decorations, and Triples

Disc Five - Writing Reports / Creative Writing

Disc Six - Essays / Critiques, Conclusion

Disc Seven - Tips & Tricks for teaching

Disc Eight - Student Writing Workshop Elementary Level 

Disc Nine -  Student Writing Workshop Intermediate Level 

Disc Ten - Student Writing Workshop High School Level

Things you will need for this course:

A good white board, markers & eraser are really important for this program.  I purchased mine at Lowe's for about $10.00.  The markers (4 different colors) and eraser I purchased at Walmart for about $6.  You can substitute the white board with a chalk board if necessary.  Of course you'll also need notebook paper, pen and pencils.  

Details & How We Used The SWI Level A -

I used this with my 10 year old son. We used this four days per week.  

First we watched the lesson on the DVD.  We watched the section we were assigned in the lesson plan and then began the writing assignment.  

First my son had to underline three words in each sentence that he thought were important. 

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Below, he is working so hard thinking and choosing his words carefully.  If the child chooses words that will make it difficult for him, you can suggest better ones.  Such as a few nouns and one verb, etc.  The instructor explains this in the TWSS course.  There are several teaching tips like this that will become useful to you while teaching the SWI levels.

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Then, after all of the underlining was completed, he had to write those three words out on notebook paper in his binder.  In the picture below, I wrote out on the white board what my son was writing on paper.

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The reason for doing this (writing on the white board what the child is writing) is to help them without 'hovering' over them.  You can also use this stragegy to suggest better words for them to use.  For example, if the sentence says "The sowbug is a close relative" and the child writes the three words - close, relative, and is, then you can help him/her to see that the better choice would be sowbug, close, relative.  The instructor also recommends that you teach the student to try to list their three words in the order they are in the sentence.  This gives them a better understanding on what they need to write later on in their paragraph.  Also, you may have a very short sentence.  You may have only two important words in that sentence, like the one I gave in the example in the picture above - line #3.  In that case, the student(s) can always just list two important words instead of the three.  The same goes for a large sentence.  The student may use four words.  In this Level A, there won't be too many really long sentences that you would need four or more words.

After the three words were written on the notebook paper, I had him remove the original paragraph and place it in his binder so he could only have access to his writing on his notebook paper.  This is a good lesson on teaching the children how to write so they can read it and use it for reference later on.

The next step he was assigned was to take those three words (written on his notebook paper) and form one sentence.  

For example, the first three words in line one were:
pillbug, world, backyard.
Out of those three words, he came up with his own sentence that read:

A pillbugs world is our backyard.

He did this with each line of three words to create several sentences.  He also had the challenge of combining two of those sentences with the word 'which'.  Again, as he wrote, I wrote what he was coming up with onto the white board.  I let him put together the sentences with some help now and then.

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After all the sentences were complete, he had to place in paragraph form with indentation.  The paper is still double spaced all the way down the page.  This is now his rough draft.

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After I corrected his rough draft, I returned it to him to make the corrections.  The final draft should be like the picture to the right, single spaced, correct punctuation and spelling.  This picture is his final paper on the tarantula paragraph. 

This writing has several steps to it as you can see and of course this isn't done in one day.  It took us (on average) about one week (four days) to go through the process of writing one paragraph as described above.  As the lessons go on though, the assignments get a bit more challenging.  For example, not only does the student have to combine sentences with the words 'which', but later on they have to add a strong verb and/or an 'ly' word.  The teacher on the DVD instructs them on how to do this. Taking this writing process slow seems to give the child time to really think about what they are writing.  They are not overwhelmed by the amount they have to write, but they think about the quality of what they are writing.

Details & How I Used The TWSS -

I used this myself.  I watched the 10 DVD's in the set throughout the review period.  There are 6 teaching DVD's, then 4 others.  One of these 4 is a DVD called, 'Tips & Tricks' containing the obvious.  The other 3 of these 4 are workshop DVD's for 3 different grade levels: elementary, intermediate and high school.  They are called SWW (Student Writing Workshop).  The DVD's have several assignments for me (the homeschool teacher) to get the feel of what I will be requiring my child to do.  I found these to be very helpful for me to teach any of the levels offered by this company.  The instructor has tons of great points and teaching techniques to offer!  

A few of my favorite teaching tips were spelling, corrections & penmanship.  The instructor encouraged us to let the student(s) ask how to spell things.  When they ask, we just tell them how to spell the word correctly instead of handing them a dictionary and have them spend most of their writing time looking alphabetically for words they cannot spell.  This really made sense to me due to the fact that I, myself, am a terrible speller.  Why waste the child's time with spelling during the writing portion?  I can always have him/her 'touch up' on that word in our spelling / grammar lessons.  This was a writing program.... makes perfect sense to me.

Another great tip was the correction part.  When it comes time to correct the rough draft, who wants a paper back with lots of red marks all over the page?  That is so discouraging and disappointing to a student.  I totally get that.  So the instructor explained how to try and help them throughout the process.  Maybe verbally reminding them to watch their end marks, intention, etc. by walking close to them and pointing out that they want to add a period there, etc.  This course again, is a writing course.....not a grammar, spelling or penmanship course.  The goal is to get the student to write.  This instructor, in my opinion, is a genius!

The last one of my favorite teaching tip was on penmanship.  My son has terrible penmanship.  I didn't know how well he would do with this course but after a few times of him not being able to write his own writing, he seemed to slow down a bit.  I just kept in my mind that I wasn't going to dwell on the penmanship, spelling nor the corrections.  I was going to teach him how to write!

A Little Bit About The 'Instructor' -

I keep mentioning the 'instructor' of this course.  
His name is Andrew Pudewa.  

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He is the instructor on the DVD's.  He has been giving seminars for several years to teachers and classrooms to help students become better writers.  He used this curriculum with his own children as well.  The points and teaching techniques he gives are incredible!  I didn't realize how easy it was to write.  His advice has really helped me to become a better writer myself.  

To read more about the instructor and the history of IEW, click HERE.

What I Thought -

I must tell you that my son hated (note I used the past tense of hate) to write so I was a bit concerned but optimistic on using this.  He has dyslexia and would rather do chores than do any kind of writing assignment.  His writing and handwriting is really poor (which isn't unusual for children with dyslexia) and I've tried just about everything.  Then we tried this. Guess what? He loves it!  He was so excited that he could write such great paragraphs, not to mention mom was totally excited too!

 The SWI is great because it is giving my son the confidence he needs along with great ideas on how to write successfully. The instructor on the DVD's let the student be in control of their writing.  Meaning that they could add words to make their sentences longer or create short sentences.  He had a lot of great points on how children think about writing.  One of the points that stand out to me is that the fact most children (boys in general) write as little and to the point as possible, just to get the assignment over with.  That was ok!  As long as they had the required work in their final draft, it was ok.  Even thought this is probably common sense to most, this wasn't too me.  I had it in my mind that if the child gives short sentences that they were being lazy and not completing the assignment as directed, but that isn't the case at all.  The whole goal in this course is to get the child to write.  That goal is being accomplished and I have Institute For Excellence in Writing to thank for that!  

As for the TWSS, this is wonderful!  I wish I would have found this 9 years ago when I started homeschooling.  This has taught me so much.  The teaching methods that I had in my head, that I was taught, was so far off from Mr. Pudewa's techniques in teaching writing.  His DVD teaching made sense to me.  I feel confident now that I can teach this to my children and know that they will write to the best of their ability.  My personal writing has been effected by this as well.  I feel that I have become a better writer.  I am no longer looking at a blank page.  ;)

I am so pleased with what this has sparked in my 10 year old.  Writing was so difficult for him, he just dreaded the sight of a pencil.  But now, he is so excited and it is his first subject of choice to do daily!   

Thank you IEW!


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1 comment:

  1. This is one of the best reviews I've read! Thank you for going in depth with how you used this program and what has been beneficial to you. Just what I was looking for!