I am really thrilled about today’s review!
Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS)
The TWSS is a teacher seminar with 12 DVDs (14 hours) and a physical Seminar and Practicum Workbook. It also included some premium downloads, including the entire seminar streaming online and many other audio and PDF files.
The Bible Heroes Student Book is a physical paperback book, and the Bible Heroes Teacher’s Manual is a digital download.
I am going to start today’s review with a little background about my experience with IEW. I have been homeschooling for 8 years, and started preparing for homeschooling about 5 years before that. I have always heard such good things about IEW, but because writing was my least favorite subject and I knew parts of the curriculum to be pretty expensive, I never looked into it. Then, 2 years ago I heard a presentation (and saw a demonstration) about it at our homeschool conference. I left that seminar excited about writing–which is amazing for me! I bought the TWSS and Student Writing Intensives A and B (SWI-A, SWI-B) and used the SWI with my kids for a while. But I never watched TWSS, which I now realize meant I was missing the entire point of the curriculum.
Now, I know that it is best to watch the TWSS first. So, that is my first goal–to finish the entire 14-hour seminar this summer! That way I’ll better understand the big picture of the philosophy behind writing that IEW teaches. I will be able to apply it to any kind of writing that my kids are doing (not just specifially IEW materials).
I don’t have any regrets for any of my homeschool years, except one: I wish I had watched the TWSS writing seminar before I started homeschooling my kids.
My last 2 kids are entering pre-k and kindergarten this year, so it’s not too late for them! My oldest 2 kids are in 8th and 9th grade, so I still have time to teach them to write as well. Better late than never!
Now, the Review:
IEW is committed to helping students who have learning disabilities as well as those who don’t. The Bible Heroes curriculum is written for grades 1 and 2, but I used it for my daughter who has a reading disability and is aged 10. It was recommended for her because she is beyond PAL (Primary Arts of Language, a phonics program that IEW sells) and wasn’t quite ready for Student Writing Intensive Level A. I had used the SWI-A with her older sister, so I knew she wouldn’t be able to handle it yet. For this review, I used Bible Heroes with three of my kids as a group, my 1st and 2nd graders, and my 10-year-old with dyslexia.
I really loved it! It was recommended to watch the seminar TWSS disc 1 and read part of the Seminar and Practicum Workbook before starting the Bible Heroes. In the seminar and in the workbook it explains different techniques for teaching students with learning disabilities. When I had that background, I headed into the curriculum with my kids. There is a student workbook (but is isn’t really just for the student and isn’t consumable). It has some pages for each lesson that I showed my kids (examples, etc.) and in the back of it, there are cardstock pages to cut out for the games that are played.
My kids each had their own 3-ring notebook with paper to do their writing assignments.
Here was one of the most important things I learned: “You can never help your child too much.” This is kind of counter-intuitive for a teacher who is trying to get a child to learn something so they can become independent and self-sufficient. But here is what Andrew Pudewa said: If you help them a lot whenever they need it, eventually they will get to the point where they will tell you they don’t need your help anymore. For example, it’s alright to write down the stories for them while they dictate them or to be their human dictionary. Lightbulb!!!
I loved the variety of IEW Bible Heroes. The kids are learning to write keyword outlines from a short Bible story. They are learning the Bible stories and about the wonderful character qualities of the heroes who are being studied. They are playing games to reinforce concepts like “what is an adjective” and the vocabulary words. And they are practicing public speaking when they get in front of our group to tell us their “speech” of the story from their key-word outline.
Below you’ll see a picture of my daughter’s key-word outline (the daughter with the learning disability). After I read the paragraph to her, she wrote about 3 words per sentence, sometimes using symbols or abbreviations. Then, below that you see pictures of the kids using their own keyword outlines to read the paragraph back. They were all slightly different from the original. In the first few lessons, they learned to add adjectives and use some “fancier” vocabulary words (these are called “dress-ups). Then they wrote the paragraphs down entirely. (I wrote them down for them while they dictated if they wanted me to.) We edited them together, and then wrote the final copy! Such good skills to practice at such an early age.
I am so glad to finally understand the full philosophy behind the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I am glad to have the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style 14-hour seminar and will finish watching and studying it before the end of the summer. And I loved Bible Heroes! I really wouldn’t have thought of doing “writing” lessons with my early elementary students; I had picked IEW Bible Heroes to do mostly with my older daughter with dyslexia. But now I see how good it has been for all of them! I now LOVE IEW!
** If you are thinking about doing any IEW with your kids, you might be overwhelmed like I was in years past. Here is my single greatest piece of advice. Watch the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar before you do anything else. 🙂
(Disclosure: I received a copy of these products so I could honestly review them here.)