Topic: Homeschool Product Review
One of the beefs that I have always had about my school days is that I never was taught how to write well. It doesn't matter what type of writing, there was no instruction on writing research papers, short stories...nothing. I only remember one teacher teaching us anything about writing, and that was about writing poetry. Perhaps each teacher thought that good writing techniques should have been taught in previous grades. Maybe it was but I just didn't catch on. It wasn't until college that I finally learned how to write a research paper. I don't recall ever getting any instruction on writing short stories. I've just picked things up here and there.
That's why I was so thrilled when John Allen and I were selected to review the Excellence In Writing (EIW) Student Writing Intensive Level B. I had seen it before but really didn't know much about it. I just knew that it was supposed to be an excellent writing program. I didn't realize just how complete it is or how impressed I would be.
In this 15 lesson/30 week course your student begins by learning how to write a good paragraph, moves to writing a story, then on to the correct way to write a report and finally about creative writing. These are all things that I wish I would have learned in high school but John Allen is learning them in middle school!
And the way Andrew Pudewa teaches it in such a neat way. Who is Andrew Pudewa? Oops! I'm so excited about this curriculum that I'm getting way ahead of myself. Andrew Pudewa is the author of this program. Along with all of the notes, worksheets, lesson plans, charts, etc. that you need (well over a hundred pages) you get a great three ring binder and four DVDs. The four DVDs contain the teaching of the 15 lessons. Don't think, however, that these writing lessons must be totally boring. If you do, you'll be totally wrong!
As I said, each session is taught in a really neat way. Andrew Pudewa is a very entertaining teacher. Each lesson is filmed in front of a classroom of students, so it is an actual teaching session. Everything is taught step by step from the very basics up. You start out by learning what makes up a good paragraph by reading good paragraphs. You learn how to make key work outlines and learn the rights and wrongs of writing a good sentence/paragraph/story.
Have you ever heard of a "who/which clause"? It's a way to "Dress-up" your paragraph to make it look and sound better. You'll learn about a lot of "Dress-ups". Things like using "-ly words" and "adverbial clauses".
You'll also learn about "banned words" - not naughty words , but words that are best left out of a paragraph and replaced with more interesting and catchy words. Don't you just hate stories that say "he said" and "she said" over and over again? Isn't it more fun to hear "he exclaimed" or "she whispered"? It is more interesting to read, and it sets the tone of what is happening in the story. Can you tell that the word "said" is one of the banned words? There are quite a few banned words and you learn about all of them and you'll learn about better words to use in their place.
Do you know what an "Overlapping Topic" is or how to "Fuse an Outline"? You'll learn all about those things in the report writing unit.
I could go on and on about the different things that you will learn, but this review would soon get to be very long and I'm sure I'll be breaking one of Andrew Pudewa's rules! Let's just suffice it to say that this course is very thorough.
Nevertheless, although this is a full course, the materials are very easy to use and very well laid out. On the first day of a lesson you always watch the video of that lesson. As I said before, the teacher is very entertaining and you never know what he's going to come up with next. Then, for the next two weeks, you simply practice what was taught in that lesson. Each day is very manageable. The longest day is almost always the first day of the lesson. Some of the video's can be up to an hour long. The lessons are very flexible as well. If your child is taking a lot of time to complete each days work, stretch it out. If they are breezing through it in no time at all, double up on some lessons.
And, don't worry, the parent/teacher's part is very easy. Everything is scheduled and explained in an easy way. You can almost just look and see what the student is supposed to do that day, tell him what to do, and hand him the materials. The video's do all of the teaching. If you aren't a writing whiz, you can sit and watch the video with your student (or watch it ahead of time). If you still have problems, there is a plethora of online helps on the EIW website. There are yahoo groups that you can join and even a whole separate Teaching Writing: Structure and Style course that you can purchase. I didn't review the Teaching Writing materials, so I don't know quite what is in them, but some of the crew members did. Check out the link to the other crew member reviews below.
Let me just tell you - we have regular curriculum that we use in our everyday homeschool. It's tried and true curriculum that we have researched and used over the years. For the most part it is curriculum that we are comfortable with and is a good fit for our family. I've reviewed a lot of things the past two years with the TOS Homeschool Crew. A few items just have not been a good fit for our family, but overall we have enjoyed or at least tolerated the things we have used. Some we have used for the review period and that is it. Others we have used for a little while after the review has been written, but eventually they got shelved as well. The benchmark in the Tinkel household is whether or not a review item finds it's way on to our everyday/year round curriculum list. That has only happened a few times and when it has, you can tell that it is a good item and is a keeper. EIW's Student Writing Intensive curriculum is a keeper. We like it so much, that we are going to continue on with it.
So, how much does all of this cost? Well, there are Student Writing Intensive courses for all ages - Course A is for 3-5 grades, Course B (the one we used) is for 6-8 grades, and Course C is for 9-12 grades. Each course is just $99. We also received a "Portable Wall" that corresponds with the level B course. It's a tri-fold wall that your student can use to block off distractions. It has many of the hints and lists printed right on it that the student uses in his everyday writing. This valuable tool is sold separately for $7. EIW also has other courses such as a k-2 writing course and an Excellence in Spelling course. You can check out their website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. As I mentioned, other TOS Homeschool Crew members have reviewed this item and other items and you can check those out by clicking here.
Happy Home Educating!
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received EIW's Student Writing Intensive Level B and the corresponding Portable Wall for free in order to use and review on my blog.