Tag: writing

Curriculumelementary schooliewProduct Review

IEW Structure and Style Level A- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

This post contains affiliate links.

If you’ve been around here and read any of my posts, you’ll know that we are fairly new to the world of The Institute for Excellence in Writing®. Last year, my oldest went through Structure and Style Level C and we were really impressed. When the chance to review Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A from IEW came along, I glady accepted it with my 3rd and 5th graders in mind.

Before last year, my only experience with Institute for Excellence in Writing®. was through the lens of, in my opinion, high strung, stressed out homeschool moms. It was always confusing when it was explained to me and always seemed to be coming from people who weren’t adhering to the same homeschool philosophy as me. However, I attended the NCHE Thrive conference last year where Andrew Pudewa was a keynote speaker. He is the founder and face of IEW. I was so impressed with his talks and how he approaches home education that I went to the booth and asked more questions. By the end of the conference, I was sold on the program and excited to give it a try.

One of my school related goals for my kids is to produce effective writers. I want them to be strong communicators both in spoken and written word. We have never really used a writing curriculum before and I am so excited about using Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A this year.

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Each of these programs provides a complete writing curriculum. You will find everything you need to get started right away, including:

  • Student Binder and Packet
  • Teacher’s Manual
  • Your choice of DVD or Streaming instructional videos

The course includess 24 lessons, taught by Andrew Pudewa. To be honest, I thought my kids were going to find him cheesey and not want to watch the videos. I was wrong. They were really able to connect with his sense of humor and engaging teaching style. Honestly… I found myself yelling out answers to his questions as if I were really in his class.

The binder, packet, and teacher’s manual are well put together and very organized. Everything is clearly written out and easy to follow. This makes implementing the class very easy and seamless in a homeschool or co op environment. All materials your child needs can be found in the student binder and also a notebook. You receive the streaming instructions, student binder and packet and teacher’s manual.

A suggested weekly schedule is provided. I have noticed that we are able to advance at our own speed. When a concept is easily understood, we can move quickly through the lesson. When we need to spend more time on a topic, we can slow down. Because we have access to the forever streaming videos, we have the freedom to work at our own pace. I love that there are literature suggestions to go along with each unit. The suggestions make for excellent read alouds. In Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A, some of the literature suggestions include Little House on the Prairie, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and more. I love how the program does not just teach writing in isolation, but incorporates grammar, style, and literature. It is a solid, well constructed program.

One thing that stood out to me when listening to Andrew Pudewa speak was concerning grade levels. He mentioned that when a student begins violin, they start at the very basic level despite their age. The same can be applied to writing. If you have a student who has little experience with writing, you start them at the beginning despite their age. While Level A may be more geared toward younger writers, you could certainly begin there with a middle or high school student who does not have much experience.

Be sure to follow IEW on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinwriting/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iew
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iew/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/iew/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/iewtv/featured

The Homeschool Review Crew reviewed the various levels of Structure and Style for Students. Be sure to check out what they have to say. Click the banner below:

homeschool helpsiew

My IEW Wishlist

This is our first year using the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I have to admit that I have always been skeptical of IEW. Many of the parents I have talked to in my circles who use the program seemed stressed out and overwhelmed. To listen to them tell about their homeschool day, describing the subjects they were teaching and curriculum they were using was stressful to my delight directed ears. I made an assumption that IEW was busy work, time consuming, and stressful.

Thankfully, that assumption was dispelled when I was able to hear the founder, Andrew Pudewa, speak at our state conference, NCHE Thrive, last Spring. I really did not even want to go hear him speak… my goodness… how judgy of me! However, he was one of the keynote speakers so I decided to go. I was so pleasantly surprised and humbled as I listened to him speak. He articulated so well the hopes that I have for my own homeschool. He so eloquently described what I have come to know as interest led learning and delight directed homeschooling.

But what I was most impressed with was all the young students, middle and high school age, who lined up to shake his hand and tell him thank you. These children were so excited to meet Mr. Pudewa. Seeing how motivated and excited these kids were about the program sealed the deal for me… I had totally misjudged IEW and was ready to eat my humble pie, visit the booth, and ask some questions.

As I mentioned in the post about our high school plans, my oldest had expressed interest in diving deeper into the elements of literature. He has always been an avid reader and wants to learn more of what it would take to write his own novel. When I expressed this to my new friends at IEW, they suggested we start him on The Student Writing Intensive Level C. Noting what I said about his apptitude for grammar and mechanics, she said he could likely do level C during the fall and move into a novel writing focus in the Spring.

I am loving Level C. We sit and watch the videos together. Sometimes I feel like we are back in preschool watching Dora the Explorer… you know how she would ask questions and then pause for the answer? I was totally answering Andrew Pudewa during one of the lessons.

We also have Level A for my girls. We will probably start after Christmas.


While looking on the IEW website, I started putting together a list of things I would love to use in our homeschool. Here are a few that piqued my interest:

Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales

“This theme-based writing curriculum offers a full year of instruction for students in grades 3–5 and is perfect for homeschoolers, homeschool co-ops, tutors, and hybrid schools. Your students will work through IEW Units 1–7 as they learn to take notes, retell narrative stories, summarize references, write from pictures, and compose their own fables, myths, and fairy tales. Includes vocabulary cards, literature suggestions, and access to helpful PDF downloads.”

Following Narnia Volume 1: The Lion’s Song

“Using the first three novels of The Chronicles of Narnia® (The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Horse and His Boy), this series of 30 lessons (with two bonus lessons) beckons students to experience the enchanted land of Narnia through the Structure and Style® writing method.

The Student Book gives reading assignments from the novels, source texts on related topics, checklists, assignments, wordlists, and more! The Teacher’s Manual is a necessary component of the course, as it will guide the teacher/parent through each lesson with in-depth explanations, tips for teaching, checklists, and other notes that will ensure that you and your students are successful with Following Narnia.”

A Guide to Writing Your Novel

  • “Designed especially for teenagers and older hopeful writers, instruction is based on 30 years of proven, practical methods of developing an idea into a complete story.
  • This guide covers the common elements of all category novels as well as the special requirements of the key genres: suspense, mystery, romance, juvenile and others.
  • Checklists and helpful workshop suggestions can be found periodically throughout the book providing a distinctive and valuable feature.
  • This is the answer book to questions beginning writers have on all aspects of novel writing.”

Lemonade to Leadership

“This unique 12–25 hour curriculum involves students in grades 6–8 in real-world business practices: recognizing opportunities, record keeping, marketing, merchandising, and writing your very own business plan and implementing it!”


I realize that my biggest goals for my children as far as education is concerned are :

1. Develop a life long love of learning.

2. Learn to read. Love to read.

3. Be proficient writers.

We are 99% there on the learning to read. As far as I can tell, I have a crew of bookworms who appreciate and enjoy reading. We are moving into more of a focus on writing now.

Have you used products from the Institute for Excellence in Writing? Comment below and share your favorite.

highschoolhomeschool helpsiew

Our High School Plans 2019-2020

Oh my word… time flies when you are homeschooling four kids with two in soccer while working two part time jobs. I cannot believe that I have not blogged in TWO MONTHS!!! I have so much to catch you all up on!

First things first. Apparently, I have a ninth grader. NINTH GRADE! I’m pretty sure that is impossible because yesterday someone told me to treasure his preschool years because I would blink and they would be over.

Only… it wasn’t yesterday. It was ten years ago.

I’m finding a lot of similarities between starting preschool and starting highschool as far as homeschooling goes. I remember when he was four and I declared that I needed all the things. I needed curriculum. I needed and easel and a desk. I needed a pocket chart and a calendar. And a pointer… I definitely needed a pointer.

We bought a preschool curriculum from Sonlight. I sat down with my boy, armed with a spiel about how “A says ‘ah'” only to find out he was well past letter sounds and knee deep into chapter books and dinosaur encyclopedias. For the first of many times to come, I had missed him. I had been wrapped up in my vision (and what I had learned from homeschool conferences and blogs) of what our homeschool should look like. I wanted to check some boxes and know that I was doing all the things.

I found myself feeling very much in the same place I was those ten years ago when I sat down to plan for 9th grade. Suddenly, the game seems real and more serious than before. Moving forward, transcripts and credits are something I have to know about. Being aware of what colleges are looking for and having my child college ready are weighing heavy on my mind.

I started scrambling and asking and making lists and boxes to check. I started stressing that these past ten years of homeschooling are for naught and I have irrevocably screwed my child up. As I sat with him, piling on the subjects and classes he must take to be college ready, I could see the cloud covering him. My creative, self taught, self motivated, highly intelligent boy was shrinking under the weight I was placing on his shoulders. He reminded me of the unschooly, delight directed method of homeschooling that I so proudly speak of and asked how high school works in that framework. I told him that I wasn’t sure. This is uncharted waters for me.

After prayer and much conversation with the boy… I realized what I realized ten years ago. Here I am, wanting to make sure he knows grammar and history and math… meanwhile he is knee deep in the art of story telling through film and drawing. He is curious about budgets. He wants to learn about Japanese history. He wants to go deeper in his writing abilities. I realized there is a framework of what colleges are looking for and it is my privilege to fit the puzzle pieces of our school into that frame.

Wow… that was a long introduction. Kind of like when you just want a recipe so you can make a delicious dinner, but you have to read all about the author’s childhood adventures with Aunt Beulah before you can finally have her buttermilk biscuit recipe… am I right?

So… here is our ninth grade year in a nutshell:

Math… O Lord help me not lose my relationship with my son over Algebra! I cannot tell you how many times a week I am asked when he will use this in real life. I always respond that I really have no clue, but the lessons in long suffering and enduring trials will serve him well into adulthood. We are taking an extended approach to Algebra… meaning this is our second year of it. This year we are trying Saxon math (I swore I would NEVER, EVER, NEVER use Saxon… but here we are).

Language Arts… Last year, he took an Elements of Literature class through Schoolhouse Teachers. He enjoyed it, but wanted to go deeper. After talking with the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) folks at our state homeschool conference, I decided to give Level C of their writing curriculum a try. So far, he is loving it and sharpening his writing skills. Click below to get a FREE sample lesson.

I have also curated a list of books appropriate for his age and reading ability. I asked that he always be reading… committing to at least two chapters a day from one of the books on the list.

Science… After completing biology, we decided to move onto Chemistry. This is my child who will likely not end up in a scientific or medical field of any sort. At this point, his lab sciences are simply to satisfy the requirement needed to get into most colleges. With that being said, there was less pressure on me to find a high end, intense chemistry. A friend directed me to Food Stuff Science– An Applied Chemistry. One of his books for the course is called, “Hello My Name is Icecream.” He has already completed a few labs that he was super excited about including cooking a pasta dinner for everyone.

Civics… We have not begun yet, but he will be completing and American Government class taught by a friend locally. We were given the opportunity for him to be a guinea pig of sorts and see what it is like to take this course remotely, online, and not in the actual classroom. I was honestly surprised he agreed to it, but he seemed excited. We shall see how it goes!!

Spanish… He is taking an introduction to Spanish class through a local co-op. We made sure this would count as one of his foreign language credits. We also made sure that his friends would be in the class because… socialization.

Electives…

This kid draws all day long. I mean all. day. long. He is continually checking out books, watching tutorials, and learning new things. I see no reason to not give him an art credit for all the work he is doing.

He has decided to learn guitar this year. I sent him a link to the guitar course offered on Schoolhouse Teachers. He asked me to not make it a part of “school” because if he sees it on his assignment list, he won’t want to do it. Noted… not on the list.

In addition to these classes, we are involved in our local homeschool association’s Enrichment Classes. These take place in the Fall and in the Spring for eight weeks at a time. This fall he is taking a Life Skills class, Introduction to Blogging, and Brain Games.

What is your highschooler up to this year???