We needed a new approach to writing. My older kids didn’t have an issue learning how to write, but I was at a loss trying to teach my next two kids. I’d give the writing assignments, teach the kids, but no finished writing assignments appeared.
Something needed to change.
So in December I contacted IEW and asked if I could do a review in exchange for SWI C. IEW said yes! The kids and I started in January.
IEW’s method is based upon explicitly teaching kids structure and style. Structure is taught over nine units, while style is gradually taught throughout the units. Years ago I purchased and watched Teaching Writing with Structure and Style.
The structure assumes no previous writing experience or knowledge. Kids are guided through creating outlines, writing from outlines, writing stories, taking notes, merging sources, essays, an critiques. They’re carefully taught everything they need to know.
The stylistic portion of the program is also gradually taught as the kids progress through the units. However style’s not taught at a set speed. My teens are speeding through the stylistic portion at a break-neck pace, but elementary kids are only introduced to a few key stylistic devices during the year.
Teachers and homeschool moms begin with the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style Syllabus & Seminar Workbook. It walks you through the units and how to teach stylistic devices. Ideally when you’ve finished watching the seminar, you’re equipped to teach all your children how to write.
However there are times you need more guidance, like I did. So IEW has three Student Writing Intensive courses written to the student.
Student Writing Intensive C
The student writing intensives were originally a 4 day seminar done with a group of kids. And you still have the option of running through it in 4 days. However it’s also scheduled out for 15 or 30 weeks of writing assignments.
The Student Writing Intensive comes with a set of DVDs and a student notebook. The student notebook includes all the papers the kids need, checklists for each assignment, and teacher’s notes. Since I had two students, IEW kindly sent me 2 student notebooks. I now have 2 sets of teacher’s notes!
There was a small amount of work to set up the student notebooks for the course. I think it took me 15 minutes to complete both notebooks and glance through the teacher’s notes. Now we were ready to start!
The teens and I began SWI C in January with the goal of finishing the course in 15 weeks. We’ve completed 10 lessons (weeks). Finally I’m seeing finished writing assignments appear!
I hand out the student papers to my kids and nag them to grab their student notebooks. I glance at the teacher’s notes to see where we’re beginning to watch the seminar and where we’ll end.
Usually we spend around 30 minutes watching the lecture. The lecture is wonderful. You watch Andrew Pudewa teaching a class of mixed aged students. It’s certainly encouraged my teens to get their writing assignments finished.
Some weeks have over an hour of information. Other weeks were review with nothing to watch.
I’ve made certain I watch the DVD with my teens. This way I know what was taught and what’s expected. And much to my surprise, the stylistic portion of IEW turned into an informal study of grammar! It’s been fascinating to watch how Andrew Pudewa actually teaches the structure and style of IEW to a class.
After the lecture, I review the assignment with the kids and send them on their way.
The teens usually finish their outlines and begin their rough drafts.
Rough drafts are finished and polished. The kids add needed stylistic devices and bring me the drafts to check.
The kids write their final draft. It and the checklist is brought to me for me check. I run through the draft.
Writing has been getting done consistently all semester. The moaning and groaning has stopped, and as I mentioned before. Assignments are getting finished and turned in.
And the burden is off my shoulders!
The writing expectations are set by Andrew Pudewa, not me. The kids don’t complain about the length or nature of the assignments. Instead I keep fielding teenagers running up and asking me to read their rough drafts while trying to teach phonics to my kindergartner.
That’s a problem I’m delighted to have!
It’s going so well, the teens asked if we could continue this approach next year. They’re enjoying the lectures, Andrew Pudewa’s sense of humor, and the assignments.
I love having the kids finally making real, consistent progress in their writing abilities.
Over the last few months, SWI C has turned writing from a grudging skill to avoid to a delightful subject to study.