Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) generously sent us their Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level B [FIX-IT 3 & 4], A Word Write Now and Portable Walls to review. And WOW!!! This set has so much and how blessed we are to get to review it!
Ceesa absolutely loves IEW. We've reviewed Student Writing Intensive Level A Set (SWI), Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Set (TWSS), & Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood [Student Book 2 and Teacher's Manual]. As soon as she realized our set came in the mail, she begged to start watching the videos and get going with her grammar. She finished the videos 2 full weeks before I needed to put the review up!
The Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level B [FIX-IT 3 & 4] includes Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD set, Seminar Workbook, Student Writing Intensive DVDs Level B, including the Structure & Style Overview, Student Notebook with handouts and lesson plans, Fix-It! Grammar Book 3, Fix-It! Grammar Book 4, downloadable student e-book code for both grammar texts, A Word Write Now, and Portable Walls.
~Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD set and Seminar Workbook contain 12 DVD's (with a lovely case), a binder, and copied materials that teach parents (and teachers and parents who are teachers) how to teach the Student Writing Intensive program. There are 9 structural units (Note Making and Outlines, Writing from Notes, Retelling Narrative Stories, Summarizing a Reference, Writing from Pictures, Summarizing Multiple References, Inventive Writing, Formal Essay Models, and Formal Critique) and extra information on Writing with Literature, Stylistic Techniques, and Appendices with helpful information.
The parent can watch the videos ahead of the child working on the lessons or watch them before the school year (in the spring or summer) so that the parent is ready for the student to get started at the beginning of a school year. In our family, I am usually playing catch up, since Ceesa grabs them and starts working before I have a chance to even get my binder ready to go.
The DVD's build on one another and work through the main unit topics with the stylistic techniques and other important teaching points presented by Andrew Pudewa to a group of adults. The stylistic techniques included: dress-ups, sentence openers, decorations and triple extensions, and advanced dress-ups. The last 3 DVD's are demonstration lessons for Levels P (K-2), A (3-5), B (6-8), and C (9-12).
The Seminar Workbook has the goals for the students listed, recommended materials, teaching procedure, adjusting for grade level, answers to commonly asked questions, a list of blackline masters, Why Unit __? section, sample stories, key word outlines, student samples (including variations from elementary-high school), checklists and handouts. Additional information is sprinkled throughout the units on public speaking, rewriting, note making, outlines, writing from notes, paragraphs, how to think, irregular verb form, and much, much more.
There are comics, side notes, references notes, pictures, charts, reminder signs, and other helps on the side of the notebook pages which I find very helpful for catching my attention.
~The Student Writing Intensive DVDs for Level B and Student Notebook has 4 DVDs that teach the child directly and a binder with handouts and lesson plans. Handouts for the presentations can be downloaded. The lessons include: outlines, summary, dress-ups, story summary, reference summary, paragraph structure, sentence openers, and creative writing. On DVD is included for the parent teacher with lectures.
The Student Notebook has tabs for models/sources checklists, outlines/compositions, structural models, style charts, and "Banned" Words.
The handouts start with teacher's instructions. There is a scope and sequence chart with lesson numbers, the necessary DVD lesson, reinforcement lessons, required sources, and optional sources, a 30 week course schedule (5 days a week), times for DVD sections, and Teacher notes for the lessons broken down into 15 weeks.
The student handouts include checklists, charts, key ideas page, stories, stylistic techniques, -ly adverb list, adverbs for essays, preposition and clausal starters, Banned Words lists for verbs and adjectives.
~Fix It! Grammar Book 3 and Fix It! Grammar Book 4 Teacher's Manuals come with downloadable student e-book codes. The Fix It! program is designed for your child to work on grammar content taught in the context of an ongoing story (Book 3 is Frog Prince, or Just Deserts; Book 4 is Little Mermaid). Each book has 33 weeks worth of passages from the story to work on different concepts of grammar and a new vocabulary word every day. And it takes about 15 minutes a day for five days a week. There is a 45 page grammar glossary a the end of the book that provides in depth detail.
~The Portable Walls is a fold-out with writing models and word lists. There are writing models for dress-ups, sentence openers, decorations, triple extensions, and charts for each unit (notes and outlines, story sequence model, summarizing references, writing from pictures, library research, creative writing, essay model, and critique writing). The word lists include: "-ly" adverbs, "-ly" imposters, prepositions, synonyms for "said," and strong verbs.
How to Use the Programs
There are many ways to use the IEW Deluxe Combo Packages, but you aren't left guessing. Both the SWI and the Fix It! Grammar components have guides to follow, so you know exactly how to teach the programs and what to teach when.
There are two schedules provided for SWI. You can teach it in 30 weeks for 5 days a week. Or you can teach it in 15 lessons total. Detailed directions are provided for teaching the lessons and all of the materials are provided (you need loose-leaf notebook paper and a pen).
For Fix It! Grammar, the parent and child read the instructions together, mark and fix the first sentences and discuss on the first day. The next 3 days, students use their grammar cards to help mark passages and discuss with their parent. On the last day, after marking, correcting, and discussing the passage, the entire passage is written out completely.
Both the Portable Walls and A Word Write Now are resources that can be pulled out and utilized while writing.
How we Used it
Ceesa has been using Robin Hood: Student Book 2 since our review last year (originally she took their placement test to determine where to start). She has learned so much and enjoys working on her grammar this way. It takes her 10-15 minutes each day to complete the sentences. We were able to go right into Book 3 without skipping a beat. We have found a method that works for us that is adapted from the typical method in the text, so she can do it independently. At the start of every week, she reads the introduction for the lesson. Then on the first day and every day for 4 days, she corrects a new sentence using the coding and corrections required and looks up the bold faced word in each sentence. I have her write the word right in her notebook under the sentences. Then she uses the Teacher's Manual to correct her errors. On day 5, she rewrites the entire passage from the Teacher's Manual.
As I mentioned above, Ceesa has used SWI Level A. She completed it over a year ago, so when Level B came, I barely got the binder put together before she'd grabbed it all and darted off with it. She's worked through the entire set of videos and written several pieces. My favorite is the one she wrote about WWII. She had the Portable Walls and A Word Write Now close to her while she was working, but I'm not sure how much she actually grabbed them.
Ceesa really is a great writer. Everyday she writes a written narration over something that she has read and I look forward to reading her pieces. One of the things that I love about the SWI program is that her writing vocabulary is stretched. However one of the things that we need to work on is using a word that truly matches the one she is replacing. Often, she has written a pretty good piece and then she throws in a word substitution that sounds out of place and awkward.
The outlining processes is such a gem. I have my master's degree and never had the first clue of how to put together a good research paper. The program has taught both of us how to truly put a paper together using resources. Much of the writing students are required to do for high school and college is informational. This is a wonderful way to teach just how to do that.
Another benefit is learning speech writing. Since we first used SWI, we've followed along with the guidelines for speech writing and I'm always impressed with how she does.
TWSS always gives me a lot to think about. I will admit that I occasionally get my toes stepped on when I watch them. I am notorious for telling students (in my college classes) to "write about their topic until they are finished" and that "the conclusion sentence should wrap it up." Oh, my, so many habits of my own to break! Who new I should be calling it a clincher sentence and telling my students to repeat or reflect 2-3 key words.
We definitely recommend IEW. The writing and grammar lessons are invaluable and unique to any way that I've come across before.
Wishing you homeschool blessings,
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