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. This post contains affiliate links.
Why is it that one of life’s most important skills to learn is often the most difficult to teach? Why do many kids (and adults) approach this skill with dread and despair before they even begin? What skill do I speak of? The answer is Writing. If you too have struggled to teach writing, I encourage you to check out Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level C from Institute for Excellence in Writing®.
What is Structure and Style for Students?
When an opportunity arose this past summer to review a brand new writing course from IEW, I decided to apply to see what all the buzz was about. I have heard about their popular writing program for years. IEW has a solid reputation for being some of the very best writing curriculum on the market, but I had also heard it was intense and difficult to implement. When I saw that I didn’t need any prior IEW experience to use with my teenager, I eagerly signed up.
I received the newly released Structure and Style for Students: Year 1 Level C Basic with Forever Streaming. It is a 24 week writing course that has been redesigned, but still uses IEW’s Structure and Style approach at a 9th-12th grade level. The program teaches in incremental steps so that learning the writing process isn’t so overwhelming. In the new courses, Andrew Pudewa, the creator of the course teaches students directly through videos. Mr. Pudewa is an amazing teacher that really connects with teens. His jokes and humor are a plus, as well as that the lessons are presented to a class of actual students. The nine units covered are:
- Note Making and Outlines
- Writing From Notes
- Retelling Narrative Stories
- Summarizing a Reference
- Writing From Pictures
- Summarizing Multiple References
- Inventive Writing
- Formal Essay Models
- Formal Critique
What’s in the purple box?
Inside the nicely packaged box is a student packet, binder, teacher’s manual, and a card with an activation code to access forever streaming.
The Teacher’s Manual is a spiral bound 263 page book that is possibly the most organized manual I have ever used. Inside is the Scope & Sequence, a list of everything to be completed for the week, time stamps for where to stop and start the videos, Mr. Pudewa’s “board notes”, as well as definitions, literature suggestions, and a few notes for the facilitator.
The Student Binder is impressive! It contains all the student needs for the course. A daily breakdown of tasks, and the composition checklists thoroughly lists what is expected each week. The papers are organized into labeled dividers to manage the coursework in each stage of the writing process. I appreciate the skill of “paper management” is woven into the course.
How we used Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level C
With the week’s plans all laid out, implementing the program is so easy! A typical week starts with viewing part of the video. Mr. Pudewa has a way of communicating and even making the course, dare I say “fun”? Some of the skills taught are writing a key word outline (KWO) from a source text, adding “dress-ups” such as -ly adverbs and clauses to spice up the paragraphs, using strong verbs, and staying away from “banned words”. A continuation of these skills are taught and the assignment is given in the second part of the video.
The rest of the week is spent using the supplied checklist to write the paragraphs. A rough draft is turned into an “editor” (me or dad) to look for the required dress-ups, strong verbs, etc. The student fixes any errors, and makes a final copy to turn in. Grading is easy Mr. Pudwea’s way. If students complete the checklist, they recieve an A for accepted. If the student fails to complete the checklist, it is considered not finished, and receives an I for incomplete. Perhaps you prefer using point values. A detailed list is provided for each assignment. Now that they have the hang of it, I may start implementing the points system for grading.
What we thought of Structure and Style® Year 1 Level C
I only intended to use this with my 11th grader, but while waiting on the package to arrive, I thought why not try it with my 9th grader as well. So, we started from the beginning and were able to get four weeks of lessons completed.
For writing, it was better than anything else we have used. I like having a teacher for the class.”Savannah, 11th grade
The guy [Mr. Pudewa] is cool.”Gabriel, 9th grade
Well, at least I got a little feedback from those two. I have to say, the course is not nearly as intimidating as I had previously thought. I see many things I can gain for myself as well. A few extras to note aside from the terrific layout, is the use of source texts. One of the common problems for beginning writers is thinking of what to write about. Using the structure and style method with the “story” already available takes the burden off coming up with an idea.
I also like that students are also given practice in public speaking. Each time they write a key word outline, they are to test it by retelling the story to another person based only upon their outline. Last, the “forever streaming” means the videos are yours forever, so if you have younger kids, only a new binder would need to be purchased. DVDs are also available. I encourage you to take a look at what IEW has to offer for younger children as well. My friends on the Review Crew reviewed other levels of Structure and Style for Students. Click the banner below to find their reviews.