Writing has never been my son’s favorite activity. In fact, he’d rather do anything than have to put words on paper. Whenever my son works through his language arts assignment and runs across the phrase “get out a separate sheet of paper…”, he darts for the door.
You’ll never believe this, but my son, the same one who used to detest writing, has now taken a huge liking to writing. In his words he describes writing as “so fun.” I know; it’s hard to believe. But if you ask him, he will readily tell you just how much he enjoys writing now. How did this remarkable change take place? It all happened through our review of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, Student Writing Intensive Level A by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).
Spoiler alert: Instead of waiting for the end of this post, I thought I’d say right now that I’m completely sold on IEW. It’s the best thing since sliced bread, cordless phones, the internet, country music, hot showers, and Dove milk chocolate. It’s an amaaaazing curriculum and I’m now a humongous fan. Continue reading to find out why…
Institute for Excellence in Writing
Andrew Pudewa has created an award winning writing program for students of all ages and all learning abilities, based on the methods developed by Anna Ingham and James Webster. This innovative method of teaching writing really works!
The Teaching Writing/Student Writing Value Package I received included the following:
Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (a teacher’s course) and
Student Writing Intensive A (the student’s course)
Teaching Writing: Structure and Style
- 12 DVDs
- TWSS Seminar and Practicum Workbook
- One-year access to IEW premium streaming content, digital downloads, and monthly webinar training
Structure and Style is the teacher’s course. It is an in-home seminar on how to teach writing skills to your student. I wouldn’t be without it. The seminars are inspiring and so practical. It’s awesome. The first 9 DVDs correspond with the 9 units in the workbook. They cover:
- Unit 1: Note Making and Outlines
- Unit 2: Writing from Notes
- Unit 3: Retelling Narrative Stories
- Unit 4: Summarizing a Reference
- Unit 5: Writing from Pictures
- Unit 6: Summarizing Multiple References
- Unit 7: Inventive Writing
- Unit 8: Formal Essay Models
- Unit 9: Formal Critique
The last 3 DVDs are demonstration lessons for grades K through 12.
The workbook is divided into the 9 units, and it’s designed to help you remember key information from the DVD seminars. It contains goals for your students to reach, recommended materials for source texts (Aesop fables, Usborne books, kids’ magazines), teaching procedures, commonly asked questions, how to adjust for different grade levels, and some very helpful student samples.
Student Writing Intensive A
- 5 DVDs
- SWI Level A Student Notebook
The first DVD is the Structure and Style course overview. It’s a great place to start! My son and I watched the Structure and Style Overview DVD together. It gave me a thorough overview of the entire curriculum and the knowledge needed to get off to a great start. I was surprised that my son wanted to watch this DVD with me but he loved Andrew Pudewa’s humor and could relate to his stories of struggling with writing. He was immediately intrigued and just as excited as I was to begin.
The 4 other DVDs are the video lessons for the Student Writing Intensive classes, taught by Andrew Pudewa. The student workbook contains student handouts, lesson plans, source texts, and teacher’s notes. It’s very clearly laid out and very easy to implement.
Thoughts and Usage
The course schedule for Student Writing Intensive covers about 30 weeks. Depending on your student’s needs, you can go faster or slower. We were able to complete a little over two of the twelve lessons in the course. Those first few lessons we’ve completed have been terrific!
My son really enjoys the video lessons taught by Andrew Pudewa. He loves his humor and especially his rules. Don’t erase. Erasing breaks up your student’s train of thought and wastes time. Don’t worry about neat handwriting. Penmanship uses a different part of the brain and if your student is concentrating on his penmanship, he won’t be able to completely focus on what he is writing. Don’t worrying about spelling. Again, spelling takes a different part of the brain and detracts focus from what is being written.
Pudewa’s innovative way of teaching writing skills involves giving the students something to write about instead of making them come up with their own content. Each student then creates an outline from the content by pulling just 3 words from each sentence. The student can also use symbols and numbers.
For example, in the short paragraph about pillbugs, below, my son underlined 3 words in each sentence that he wanted to use in his outline. These three words would help my son remember key parts of the excerpt so that he could easily summarize his notes in his own words.
After he had summarized his outline into a paragraph, I would then edit his writing by correcting any spelling errors, adding in a comma here or there, and fixing any other issues I noticed. Pudewa encourages teachers/moms to be their child’s editor. Fix up your student’s piece of writing without any lecture attached. Just add commas, capitalize, correct spelling, etc. Make the least number of changes possible. His philosophy is, “If you teach the facts, they will intuit the laws. If you teach the laws, they will not intuit the facts.” Lastly, my son would rewrite his paragraph adding in any editorial changes I had made. We would then start the same process over with another short source text.
A note about source texts: My son loves the source texts that Pudewa provides. Pudewa has discovered that boys have a certain fondness for gross, disgusting, and dangerous animals. His source texts cover several odd types of creatures, such as the sea snake. But he also suggests using texts that feature these interesting creatures because boys will enjoy writing about them. My son is one of the boys that Pudewa is referring to.
Pudewa stated that this method of taking a story and rewriting it isn’t a new approach for teaching writing skills. In fact, in one of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiographies he talks about how, in order to improve his writing skills, he would imitate excellent pieces of writing. He states, “…I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, tried to complete the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand.”
Pudewa believes that you can’t help a child too much. I had previously struggled with the idea that I am helping my son too much, so this has really freed me up to help whenever he needs it. This has made things a lot more enjoyable for both of us!
I see the teacher’s course and the student’s course together as a valuable investment in my son’s education. I have never come across a better writing curriculum. The teacher’s course is perfect for me because I have been at a loss as to how I could help my son improve his writing. This curriculum gives me encouragement, inspiration, and practical ways to help my son write well. And the best part? My son loves this curriculum. He enjoys the writing activities and looks forward to each lesson with Andrew Pudewa. I have a happy child willing to do all his writing assignments, and I have an instructor teaching me how to teach my son to write. What more could I ask for?