Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing

I love writing. Not that you could tell by looking at my blog lately, but it's true. I've loved writing ever since I was a kid. Thankfully, I had great teachers who really encouraged me and sent me off to numerous creative writing workshops and intensives during the school year which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Like most parents who have a natural inclination in a particular area, I somehow assumed that my children would naturally follow the same path. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!) Boy, was I ever wrong! Granted, Sierra (15) enjoys writing to a degree, and Ethan (12) has no interest whatsoever. Abby (11) however - she may be the one to pick up where I left off. However, she has yet to really develop a love for it like I do. Until now!

Enter the Institute for Excellence in Writing! This program is nothing short of incredible, folks. I received their Teaching Writing / Student Writing Intensive combo pack Level A which I used with Abby.

This beefy program contains absolutely everything you'll need to teach the fundamentals of effective writing in a clear and easy to use way:

  • Student Writing Intensive Binder - Contains all necessary worksheets, teacher's notes, check lists (I love check lists...) and more.  Tabbed dividers keep everything organized (I love dividers...and tabs...) 
  • Student Intensive 4-DVD set - Contains actual classroom footage taught by program author, Andrew Pudewa. Designed to give students the full teaching experience, these DVD's are nothing short of awesome. Abby and I really enjoyed watching them, and we both enjoyed Mr. Pudewa's engaging style. He makes learning what could easily be a "snoozer of a topic" a joy! 
  • Teacher's Binder - Contains program syllabus plus all necessary notes and information to get the most out of the course. If you have a question about what to say or how to present a topic, the answer can be found here!
  • Teaching Writing - Structure & Style 6-DVD set - This is where I began with this program. Mr. Pudewa does a phenomenal job of explaining all the ins and outs of effective writing. Granted, I know *how* to write, but teaching it is a whole other animal! :) The Tips & Tricks DVD was especially helpful (think: CliffNotes). Once I had a solid understanding about what to expect from both the program and from Abby, we were off 'n running! *Note: I must stress the fact that you do NOT have to watch these DVD's in order to begin teaching the program to your child. In fact, most of this program can be learned together as you go along. I'm just the type of person who likes to have all her ducks in a row before starting anything. (read: control freak).
  • Portable Walls - These folders provide tons of helpful information such as word list to aid in student retention. (Remember how those old Peechee folders had things like multiplication tables inside them? That's what the Portable Walls reminded me of just a bit.) 

 How We Used It: I used this program with Abby every day for about 3 weeks, then we took it down a notch and used it once/week thereafter. The reason for this was because I started out feeling very gung-ho about the whole thing and totally loved it. But I quickly realized that Abby couldn't keep up. (Ahem) She was getting too overwhelmed and the last thing I wanted to do was squash her budding talent!

We would sit down together and watch the DVD lesson, then take our time with each corresponding assignment. This worked really well for us and provided a lot of extra "one on one time", too. :-)Granted, there were times when Abby would whine, "Can't we just skip this part? It's too long!" But that's just her. I didn't feel that the lessons were too lengthy, but apparently she did. (She's only 11 after all....with zero patience.)

Our Opinion: I really enjoyed the fact that Mr. Pudewa not only teaches the student all the various how-to's of proper writing, but he goes one step further by showing the parent exactly why this program works. And believe me - it does work! Abby's skills have started to soar as a result of using this program (1x/week since November), and I loved the fact that all my memories of Creative Writing workshops came flooding back to me! :o) It really is a fun, unique program that every student would benefit from.

The Teaching Writing/Student Writing Intensive Combo Pack Level A is available for $239. Do not succumb to sticker shock! This price may seem a bit much for one subject - HOWEVER - it is such an incredibly thorough, very engaging, awesome-results-producing program that it is easily worth double the price or more. Take it from someone who's been through several workshops and intensives over the years - the Institute for Excellence in Writing is fantastic!!

*Disclosure: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received the above program for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. No additional compensation was provided and the thoughts/views expressed in this post are my own.*

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