Wednesday, June 10, 2015

TOS Crew Review of Institute for Excellence in Writing
Being able to write is one thing but, teaching the skills for writing is not so easy. At least it isn’t for me and then you add into the mix a 12 year old with special needs! Yikes! I wasn’t sure where to begin with my daughter and have ran into a lot of walls with other curriculum. When a review came available for Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)and I saw the words special needs options I was thrilled and at the same time nervous. For the purpose of this review I received a physical copy of: Teaching Writing: Structure and Style and the Student Intensive Level A ($249.00)This also comes with the Premium Subscription The Student Student Intensive Level A is for 3rd through 5th grade. While the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style is for the teachers teaching grades K-College.

I have read a lot about IEW and some of the curriculum intimated me throughout the years as grammar and writing is just not a subject that I feel confident in. Last year, I had the privilege to review their program Fix-It! Grammar I. I was impressed with it and I know that I can also learn from IEW and build up my confidence while I am teaching my children.

Having a child with Dyslexia, Autism, and some pretty difficult learning challenges makes writing a scary road to go down with her. Not to mention arthritis that has affected her hands pretty severely. I have to admit that I freeze up myself with teaching her writing.

This may be a long review but, truly there is much to cover and I am just skimming the surface of the program.

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS):

This is basically the backbone behind IEW. It is a writing course to teach parents how to teach your children to write. TWSS is a 12 disc DVD seminar of Andrew Pudewa and it is over 14 hours long. Andrew Pudewa is the IEW director and also a homeschooling father.

The course is taught within the first 9 seminars on the DVD with the last three is seeing Andrew Pudewa in action with all the levels of the Student Intensive Levels. Andrew Pudewa is a very likable and engaging speaker with lots humor to make it seem lighter.

The disc comes in a nice leather case to store the DVDs in. The disc sleeves are the type that they aren’t going to just slide out of the pockets. This is also the newly updated and revised edition of the TWSS.

Disc 1: Introducing Structural Models

Disc 2: Introducing Stylistic Techniques

Disc 3: Retelling Narrative Stories

Disc 4: Summarizing a Reference

Disc 5: Writing from Pictures

Disc 6: Summarizing Multiple References

Disc 7: Inventive Writing

Disc 8: Formal Essay Models

Disc 9: Formal Critiques and Writing About Literature

Disc 10: Demonstration Lessons Levels P & A

Disc 11: Demonstration Lesson Level B

Disc 12: Demonstration Lesson Level C

This is very helpful teaching the structure and style of writing. You can make the seminar DVDs fit your life style by either watching it all up front or doing it slowly while you are teaching your child.

Also included in the TWSS is a Seminar and Practicum Workbook. This is a hardback binder notebook that has 12 tabs which are the 9 Units, and other material.

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

Writing about Literature

Stylistic Techniques


Included with the Premium Subscription is that you have the option for streaming videos for one year access. You have two language choices to choose from both English and Spanish. There are also some free supplemental files available like the MP3 downloads of Andrew Pudewa’s most popular conference talks, several PDF downloads, free monthly webinar training during certain times of the year.

TWSS can be used with one child to multiply children or in a class setting.

Student Writing Intensive Level A

This is the student portion of the program. You can use just the TWSS and create your lessons without this but; I think you will be more pleased with the ease of using the Student Writing Intensive Level A (SWI). I personally like the set up for the student one for my daughter as it’s more personable for her and I don’t feel so overwhelmed teaching her the skills just using the TWSS. Andrew Pudewa teaches at their level. At the same time I am grasping it all from the TWSS and applying at her level with the Student Writing Intensive Level A.

This comes with a 5 DVDS in a hard case. The disc includes:

Structure and Style Overview Disc

Disc 1 - Outlines, Summary Unit I & II, Dress Ups

Disc 2 - Unit III - Story Summary, Dress-Up

Disc 3 - Unit IV - Reference Summary, Paragraph Structure

Disc 4 - Unit V - Creative Writing

You can also download other material from IEW for the SWI.

There is also a notebook that has all the handouts and a place for them to store their work. It has tabs also:

Model/Sources Checklist


Structural Models

Style Charts

Banned Words

This is set up as either a 15-30 week course for your student. It’s a lot of information and I think the 30 week course is better suited for most busy homeschool families. This is for grades 3-5. Andrew Pudewa in this seminar is actually teaching a group of kids in a class setting.

First, you listen to the DVD lesson with your child. Afterwards, your child is assigned and assignment. Your child can work write along with the DVD. The first step is writing a key word outline from a already written source. It is only a few paragraphs. From the keyword outline you start re-wording the story in your own words from the keyword outline. You will be skipping a line on the paper to make corrections and to add dress-ups. No erasing allowed so the blank space allows you a space for corrections. 

The teacher material for SWI has a very nice overview of a Scope and Sequences breakdown of the DVD.  SWI has a lay out of scheduling the course but, this is only suggested.

SWI has lots of helpful notes for each lesson with directions for every unit for the teacher. If you are not sure what the keyword for the outlines then this is available so you don’t have to guest what they are. There is so much more that I can’t possible list it all. I couldn’t do it the justice it deserves. 

The student material has handouts which has the paragraph they will be writing from. There is also a page to write out banned words for verbs & adjectives. The back page of the student handout has a checklist of information taught which will be included in the student’s notebook.

How did I use it in my homeschool?

I have been listening to the TWSS on my own to familiarize myself with the program. I having been watching one unit at a time and I suspect that I will probably listen to it a few times through as there is a lot of information. I take notes to help prepare myself to teach it to my daughter. I am nowhere near being done with the seminar DVDs. I also listened to the many items offered with the Premium Subscription.

TOS Crew Review of Institute for Excellence in Writing 

I also had the privilege of listening to Andrew Pudewa this spring at our homeschool convention. I literally went to every workshop he and others from IEW did. It was extremely helpful. Mr. Pudewa is a passionate and energetic speaker. AT the IEW booth I introduced myself to Andrew Pudewa and told him that I was going to do a review with the TOS Crew and was waiting for the material in the mail. I shared with him my concerns and fears for teaching my special needs daughter. He gave me some wonderful advice and encouragement. Then I asked him if I could take a picture with him for the review. I felt a little silly asking but, I thought it would be fun for this review.

I used this very slowly with my daughter. Even though this is around a 30 week course I can see use taking two years with this course with Bug. That’s okay as it’s flexible enough to allow that with her learning disabilities.

We would watch the lesson’s together and then discuss it to make sure she understood the concepts. I would recommend this as to get the most out of the program. This is not something you just hand to your child to do. It is really beneficial as a parent being involved with each lesson. You can help teach what you are learning and help them apply the knowledge you gleamed from the TWSS much easier.

I would then brainstorm her with the key words and I would write them down for her. That would be a day’s work for Bug. The next day I would read her outline and then she would tell me what to write down from her outline.

TOS Crew Review of Institute for Excellence in Writing

The following day she would look over the draft and add more dress ups and edit her work. Afterwards, she would start writing. Depending on how her arthritis in her hands was doing she would begin writing her final draft. This would take days for her to complete as writing is extremely difficult for her. Typing is just as painful so we stuck with writing. After that was done we would go over the extra practice orally with me doing all the writing. That is just the basic explanation of the curriculum

TOS Crew Review of Institute for Excellence in Writing

At the convention I also bought the Portable Wall and A Word Write Now which comes with the deluxe sets. Looking at them at the convention booth I thought it would be a good tool for Bug to have. It was helpful for her to have these resources. However you can read more about them from other Crew members who received them in the deluxe sets.

My Final Thoughts:

I am really impressed with TWSS and SWI. They have clear step by step guidance through the curriculum. I feel it can be very versatile for a child with special needs. It’s also non-consumable and you can make copies.

IEW also has unconditional 100% money back, no time limit on everything they sale. How many companies do that!

Do I think TWSS and SWI is suitable for everyone? No, this is for the family who is going to sit with your child and help them through the process. It’s not an open and go curriculum in my opinion as you have to take time to understand the steps.

I think this would be difficult with a large family at different levels at lease I would struggle with it.

What did my 12 year old with special needs think? “She thinks Andrew Pudewa is very down to earth and wants to meet him in person.” She also mentioned, “That this is hard some days for her to do.”

She grasped the concepts overall very quickly she just struggles writing physically and gets pretty frustrated at times. Some days are just bad days and the whole thing just overwhelms her. So we just step back and do smaller lessons when she feels like that. We are on lesson 4 working anywhere from 4 to 5 days a week during the course of this review.

I really am very pleased with the quality and contents of everything I received. Do I feel more confident teaching my children after all of this? I am still learning and feel that I have the right tools in my toolbox to teach writing now.

I think this will be a good fit for my 9 year old son also.

Read what other crew members had to say about IEW.


1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your review of IEW. How exciting to have been able to go to Andrew Pudewa's seminars live and be able to meet him in person! And you got a photo with him! So neat!! We are loving our program too!


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