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Advanced Communication Series Review by Jennifer Harrison

Andrew Pudewa
Institute for Excellence in Writing
8799 N. 387 Rd.
Locust Grove, OK 74352

I love writing. My brain often moves like spaghetti that's come alive and is auditioning for Dancing With The Stars. I have trouble connecting my thoughts and arranging those spaghetti strands coherently in my head. I find that they begin to line up as they come out on paper, much better than they ever could while trapped in my head.

My boys enjoy writing, but their real passions are in math and science. We mainly pursued those subjects through their younger years, while their writing consisted of summary reports and just writing on the side for fun. As both boys approached those high school years, it occurred to me that we had never done any formal writing classes. The hunt for writing instruction was intimidating. Most courses were intended for students who were much younger. Classes geared toward high school students mostly assumed the students had already received formal instruction and built on that knowledge. In the end, we settled on the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and we found a program that is a perfect fit.

We have been working through the Advanced Communication Series with Andrew Pudewa. It isn't a remedial course, it's a preparatory course, designed to present the concepts students will need in order to capably meet the rigors of college writing. I have been blown away by the results.

The series teaches students how to:

  • Understand the difference between a traditional thesis statement and a persuasive statement
  • Write a persuasive essay
  • Present a persuasive speech
  • Take notes from both written and spoken sources using the Tree and Branch method
  • Organize and write a college level paper
  • Consider how to write for individual professors
  • Document research using MLA citation methods
  • Plan and implement proofreading a paper

These concepts are taught over the course of 3 DVD's, by Andrew Pudewa, who is an engaging speaker.  He has an amazing knack for gathering his listeners' attention and for presenting concepts in a real and practical way.

In addition to the DVD's, the program also comes with a CD-ROM, which includes seminar hand-outs and lesson plans. Each DVD is about an hour and a half long. The CD-ROM's lesson plans divide each DVD seminar into different viewing sessions and provide 8 accompanying lessons and assignments. An additional four lessons are included in the CD-ROM, without an accompanying DVD session, and they teach students how to write a term paper.

The series is very adaptable to fit each students' needs. For a quick crash-course, the entire series can be viewed over the course of about 5 hours, without doing any of the corresponding lessons. For a more in-depth experience, the CD-ROM includes an average of 3 exercises for each lesson. There are 12 different lessons included, which can be completed in about 1-2 weeks per lesson. Families can opt to every exercise, taking a full two weeks per lesson, making the course last 24 weeks. You can choose fewer exercises, taking only one week per lesson, making the course instead take just one semester. I love that it can be adapted to fit anyone’s needs.

We chose a combination of two methods. We view the lessons in segments once every two weeks with a co-op class. The CD-ROM allows permission to copy the seminar hand-outs for group classes. In addition to this, I assign my sons the writing exercises at home so that they can receive a full writing credit by the time they finish the course.

The full cost of this invaluable program is $69.00. It has completely prepared my sons for college level writing and honed their rhetoric skills, preparing them for life with or without college. I feel it is worth the $69 and more. Because my sons love writing and have truly enjoyed this course, we will be investing in more Excellence in Writing courses. IEW also offers several free downloads and lessons, well worth studying. In all of my research for the “perfect” writing curriculum, no company has impressed me like IEW. We are looking forward to learning more with them.

Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2013