Institute for Excellence In Writing®

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. 

Does your child struggle when it comes to developing their writing skills? Are they reluctant to take part in any kind of writing lesson? My eight year old fell into this category. However, this has all changed thanks to the Institute for Excellence in Writing®. We were given Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A which is geared for Grades 3-5. 

I’ve only heard positive reviews of this company (commonly referred to as IEW) in the past, but I personally found their various product names very confusing, and I was unsure where to begin. However, their new product Structure and Style® for Students (SSS) has simplified matters for me and all is much clearer.

Overview of IEW’s SSS 

This curriculum is comprehensive, yet also very entertaining for students.  

In the mail we received a nice box containing a teacher’s manual and student’s binder with packet that also contains pre-labeled tab dividers:

  • Source Texts
  • Model Charts and Outlines
  • Work in Process
  • Finished Compositions
  • Stylistic Techniques
  • Banned Words
  • Punctuation and Usage
  • Documentation 

We also received access to PDF downloads and the instructions of how to access the online videos led by Andrew Pudewa. These videos bring this subject to life in each lesson. Once purchased these videos are classed as ‘digital forever streaming’, which means you can use them over and over again as needed, as well as for multiple children in your family. 

Both the provided materials and online videos work seamlessly together to enhance the learning experience. 

Details of SSS Level A Year 1

There are a total of 24 weeks worth of lessons, but this can be adapted to work with your schedule. The lessons are divided into seven units:

  • 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

The Scope and Sequence provides an easy to read overview of the curriculum. It also provides suggestions of literature for the student to read throughout the year. 

The weekly outlines provide a suggestion of how to breakdown the lesson throughout the week. It clearly marks the exact time where there is a natural break in the video so it can be reviewed over two days. 

There are also details of how to incorporate the optional grammar program by IEW called Fix It! Grammar.  This series of books provides a unique way to learn grammar, so I purchased these and we are successfully incorporating the first book while my daughter goes through this writing program.  

How We Use This Curriculum

Even though the teacher manual is very detailed, you can quickly see the experience and natural connection Andrew Pudewa has with the students in these videos. I therefore wanted to take advantage of these, and it took a lot of pressure off me. However, IEW does have a teacher training course for parents that can be purchased separately. 

At the beginning of each week my daughter would start her lesson by watching the video in conjunction with the student handouts in her binder. Each day she continues where she last left off by following the instructions given to her in the video. After she has completed her work we discuss her lesson as I edit her rough draft. She then writes out a neat copy (a process we are still working on), after which I make sure she has completed all the weekly requirements using the checklist provided. 

As I’m not watching the videos with her, each week I read the appropriate pages in my teacher’s manual so I know what she’s learning and what is expected of her. 

My daughter is currently on week 10, which is within Unit 4: Summarizing A Reference. Even though she is only given a page or two of reading for each lesson she has great joy of telling me all the fun facts she is learning. Therefore these writing lessons are turning out to be quite educational. She now knows the differences and similarities between the Gobi and Sahara Deserts, and interesting facts about the Sahara sand viper and Mojave rattlesnake. Other topics she has covered and enjoyed include the giant saguaro, scorpions, camels and a couple of the Aesop Fables.  Looking ahead I am anticipating entertaining conversations on the following topics: 

  • Antartica
  • Marco Polo
  • Tortoises
  • People of the Desert 
  • Animal Racing 

What We Thought

This program has had a very positive impact on our family. My daughter learns something new in every lesson, both to enhance her writing skills and in other academic arenas.

There has been significant improvement in her writing skills and more importantly, at her age, in confidence. 

It is hard to stop my daughter from secretly starting another video – she’s always excited for her next lesson. Each lesson is challenging her, but not to a level that is unreasonable, and I’m sure it helps that she finds her teacher hilarious. 

My seven year old twins have been watching their sister and hearing her laugh at least once during each lesson. They keep asking me when they can also start this program. That’s a good sign for any program in my book. 

Once we complete this curriculum we plan to buy Level A’s Year 2 and carry on with the Fix It! Grammar. After which I have no doubt the twins will also start this program. 

More Reviews:

Please click on the banner below to read the thoughts of families regarding this product, as well as similar IEW products aimed for higher grades. 

Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level A, B & C {Institute for Excellence in Writing® Reviews}

You can also find IEW on social media via these links: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube

Hi there, we’re Micheal & Katherine!

We’re passionate about helping families strive for health and wellness, and living a non-toxic lifestyle. To us this also means homeschooling, choosing joy, exploring, making everyday count, and doing our research. We know it’s not an easy journey, but we’re doing our best and trying to make the right choices for our family.

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