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Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course Level B Review by Charlotte Gochnauer

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

Writing is one of the most important things I can teach my children. And Institute for Excellence in Writing helps homeschoolers with this sometimes difficult task.

There are three levels to Student Writing Intensive, Levels A, B, or C. After your child has completed one of these courses they can proceed into the Continuation Courses. These courses provide another year of instruction, and continues on with the principles learned in the first part of Student Writing Intensive.

The Level B Continuation Course includes all the materials needed for instruction: the student book, nine DVD’s of instruction, and a link to the downloadable Teacher Manual. There are 32 lessons in the course, which picks up where Student Writing Intensive Level B left off. After a quick review of dress-ups and sentence openers, the course explores other writing techniques.

Five lessons are devoted to writing from pictures. These lessons focus on creative writing, editing practice, and begin to introduce decorations. Students will create three paragraph outlines from pictures and add creative details to their papers. There are also helpful lessons in editing grammar, spelling and syntax.

Summarizing multiple references is next. In this section, students are taught how to find sources for research. They will learn how to scan articles, books, and internet resources, and how to incorporate them into reports. Essay writing is a large part of this level. While writing a biographical essay, students will once again practice editing skills. They will learn how to interview someone, and then how to summarize, outline, and write a biographical essay.

The next area of instruction is letter writing. Types of letters, letter formatting, and adding decorations and dress ups is covered. Finally, formal critique is covered. They will learn how to analyze and write effective book reports and critiques. Following the key outline model, students will write five paragraph reports on both fiction and non-fiction books.

Throughout these lessons there is an emphasis on editing; correct syntax, grammar, paragraph formatting, and complex sentence editing are highlighted.

The downloadable Teacher Manual has the lesson plan for each week, any handouts needed, and the homework listed at the top. There are also tips for the teacher with the key concepts that are being taught in the DVD. But the DVD is only a teaching help; there are also things that you as the teacher need to be doing with your student. I also appreciated that sample outlines are shown, so that you know what you should expect from your students.

I was very excited to begin using this with my daughter. I spent two years going through Student Writing Intensive Level B with her, so she was ready to move into the Level B Continuation Course. I really appreciated that you can just continue on and use the same notebook from the previous year. The charts and handouts are still there in the student book, if they have been misplaced. Since she was in high school I also decided to move her through the Continuation Course in a year; there is the option to do it at a slower pace and take two years to go through the course. Each week we would watch the DVD lesson portion. These lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to approximately 50 minutes. The times are conveniently listed in the Teacher Manual so that you can plan accordingly.

Each week she had homework to do. We have been using it for a couple of months and have so far gotten through the writing with pictures segment and have begun the report writing section. Most weeks she was required to write an outline and a three paragraph paper. There were also exercises to do on similes, metaphors, editing techniques, and other writing tips.

Something that was a new addition to the Continuation Course was the grade sheet. On the back of all the Composition Checklists is a grade sheet, where you would enter in a number, based on the finished homework, for each line item that was required. These included formatting, dress-ups, sentence openers, decorations, spelling errors and attention to topics sentences and clinchers. There is also a first half and second half grade summary to make a course grade easy to figure out. I really appreciated the grading sheets and so did my daughter; she found that they gave her added incentive to get every single item completed on the checklist.

This course is ideal for either individual or group study. This could easily be used in a homeschool co-op setting, and the work load would be sufficient for a high school credit of writing. Over the last three years that we have been using the Student Writing Intensive Courses, my daughter’s writing has improved dramatically. In previous years she would drag her feet with writing assignments and complain that she just didn’t know what to put down on the paper. Now, when asked, she says that writing is her favorite subject. She understands how to write a solid, five paragraph essay, complete with outlines and rough drafts. That, to me, is a great success, and I am thankful that we have IEW as a resource for writing and grammar.

-Product Review by Charlotte Gochnauer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2016