Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Crew Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing; TWSS/SWI Level A

on July 1, 2013

Institute for Excellence in Writing

I’ve heard so much about this writing curricula but with being on a limited budget I’ve not been able to actually see it – so I’m so glad that I was accepted for the group for this review!  Institute for Excellence in Writing is a wonderful company that is specific to teaching writing, be it for a gifted writer or for the child who finds writing hard, this is the premier writing curricula.  I was given Teaching Writing: Structure and Style set as well as Student Writing Intensive Level A set.  When I first received the sets I will say my initial reaction was, “parents like this? this is overwhelming” – but like other times I was proven wrong.

The key to understanding the how is know the why, and that can only be accomplished by watching the TWSS DVD’s and using the workbook alongside the seminar.  The TWSS is broken up into 9 units on 10 DVD’s – in order to watch these I pulled out our portable DVD player that we use in the van, plugged in the head phones and began following along.  The DVD’s are set up like this:

  1. DVD 1 has the overview of Structure and Style, Units 1 and 2 covering note making and summarizing from notes
  2. DVD 2 covers stylistic techniques of dress ups and summarizing narrative stories (unit 3)
  3. DVD 2 goes over stylistic techniques about sentence openers and summarizing references and writing reports (unit 4)
  4. DVD 4 is the advanced dress ups, decorations, triples and writing with pictures (unit 5)
  5. DVD 5 includes unit 6 writing reports from multiple sources and unit 7 creative writing with structure
  6. DVD 6 covers units 8 and 9 – essays (basic, extended and super) as well as critiques and conclusion.
  7. the 7th DVD is tips and tricks
  8. DVD 8 is the student workshop for grades 2 through 4
  9. DVD 9 is the student workshop for grades 5 through 7
  10. the last DVD #10 is the student workshop for grades 8 through 10+


The binder comes with the divider tabs set up in the same order as the DVD’s with all the pages that Andrew Pudewa will cover in the seminar.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit and watch all 10 DVD’s in one night!  Thankfully there is a ‘getting started with teaching writing: structure and style’ paper that breaks the DVD’s in bit sized sessions, telling you exactly where to start and stop and when to do a practicum exercise.  The pracicum exercises were fun, even for me and Andrew Pudewa’s teaching style made it fun to watch – he interjected humor in the right places although his very calm voice did having a soothing effect, so I learned not to watch at night.  The Teaching Writing: Style and Structure set sells for $169.00 and includes the 10 DVD’s and the binder workbook and is good for all the levels of the Student Writing Intensives.

IEW Level A

After working my way through several of the sessions I decided it was time to start using Level A with my 8 year old daughter.  She can write and enjoys coming up with her own stories but she doesn’t enjoy writing – especially when it comes to school subjects.  She really liked it when Andrew Pudewa gave students the okay to use pen and that neatness wasn’t what was expected, especially for the note taking/ouline and rough drafts.  To begin with I set up her student binder, inserting the divider tabs and then following the set-up instructions for where to put notebook paper, charts or where to leave the tabs empty.

My daughter and I watched the student DVD’s together – I wanted to know exactly what Andrew Pudewa was teaching so I could then know how I can better teach her and her siblings.  My daughter enjoyed Mr. Pudewa and was laughing along and even telling me, “mom, I can do this!”  She and I also felt a huge relief in knowing that I could tell her how to spell a word instead of stressing over spelling or getting a dictionary – it’s okay for me to do the spelling.  If you’re student needs to speed up or slow down, it’s possible to follow your child’s ability level, without making everyone feel overwhelmed or ‘dumb’.

Bethann’es first final copy of the first paragraph she wrote from her outline notes. She was very excited!

Level A has a suggested course schedule that outlines what portions of the student DVD’s to watch, what articles to use, and what re-enforcements to work on if the child needs that – for each week, 1 through 30 (depending on the child they may or may not need all 30 weeks).  That is based on 5 days a week, however we only do school 4 days a week so one day we may do the outline and rough draft or we may do the rough draft and the final draft – somewhat doubling up on one day.  The teacher’s notes will give the teacher an even further breakdown on whether there is a DVD portion to watch that day and where the student should watch and stop, as well as possible outline ideas to help in teaching your child.

My daughter was begging to do her IEW work and I gratefully agreed and know that we have stumbled upon a writing curriculum that she clicks with.  I began working beside her, watching the DVD’s so that I could follow along and stop it when it needed to be stopped.  I also wrote my own outline, my own rough drafts and my own final copies alongside my daughter.  However, as we continued working I realized she didn’t need me to do everything with her, merely watching the DVD’s with her and helping her with the outline orally was all she needed.  The articles are interesting and appeals to children, boys and girls, and some even correlated to our science and history studies – this program enables students to learn how to make outlines from all their subjects.

My daughter has gained confidence and now can pull out main ideas from articles with little to no input from me and she is so happy that she is able to do most assignments on her own.  I’m going to have her finish the course and I know she’s wanting to continue with Level B and knowing how glad this level has made her I’m hoping to be able to oblige her with that request.  The Student Writing Intensive: Level A sells for $109.00 and includes the 4 student DVD’s, Structure and Style overview DVD for parents, 3-ring binder with dividers and the student packet containing the scope and sequence, teacher’s notes and student handouts for one student.  You can buy extra student packets for $19.00 in physical form or for $10.00 as a download (does not include the binder and divider tabs, but does allow for unlimited copying within a single family).

If you’d like to read what other parents had to say about Level A, B, C as well as Teaching the Classics course visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


3 responses to “Crew Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing; TWSS/SWI Level A

  1. nathan says:

    you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

    • ohiosarah says:

      Hi Nathan, thank you, unfortunately I don’t have the time to do guest posting on another blog and after checking out your blog, I’m not sure what I write about would compliment your writing.

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