When I first started hearing people talk about IEW, I thought that it was all an exaggeration. It seemed like every time a homeschooler asked a question about a writing curriculum everyone was going on and on about how great IEW was. I remember thinking, "It can't be that great. There are several good writing programs out there and everyone acts." What I didn't know at that time was yes there are a lot of good writing programs out there and we have used many in our homeschool. But, IEW is truly a great writing program.
The first program I had an opportunity to try from IEW was PAL Reading and Writing. This program was designed for Pre-K- 2nd grade. I was more than impressed! I wrote a complete review on the program that you can read here. One of the great things about the writing portion of PAL is that even though it is geared for younger student, it teaches them the techniques they will need not only for the older IEW programs but for future writing in their lives as well.
The next course I had an opportunity to review from IEW was the Teaching Writing With Structure and Style Seminar along with the Student Writing Intensive Level C. Here is my review. The TWSS Seminar is a fantastic course to teach teachers (and homeschool parents of course!) how to teach their students how to write. Mr. Pudewa is a very interesting and engaging speaker and everything he teaches is in a clear and concise manner. The model that is taught will work for a variety of age levels and for every subject your child has to write in. I cannot say enough good things about this seminar. Everyone should watch it!
The Student Writing Intensive Courses come in 3 levels A (grades 3-5), B (6-8) and C (9-12.) Students do not have to go through and complete all three of these. These courses are based on the TWSS seminar and contains exercises for students to practice key word outlines and using the stylistic techniques and dress ups. Again, one of the best things about this program is that students can use these techniques in anything they will have to write in the future. I was so impressed with SWI C that I purchased SWI A to use with my 4 and 6th graders this year. They did fantastic with the program. One of the biggest problems my 6th grader has had in the past with writing was that he could never figure out what to say. IEW solved that problem for him and he did a great job learning the stylistic techniques. He put the free app on his iPod so he refer back if he got stuck. My 4th grader did very well too. He is dyslexic and has a hard time getting things down on paper, but by dictating to me what he wanted to say he came up with some amazing papers. I was so proud of them both! Next year we will be using one of IEW's themed writing courses but I haven't decided which one yet.
So, how teacher intensive is IEW? The TWSS DVDs I watched over the course of two weeks in the summer. You can also watch them as you go along if you want to. The other courses are going to require you to spend time teaching your children. It is not something you can hand to them and have them do on their own especially in the beginning , unless they are in the upper high school grades (in my opinion.) I watched the DVDs with my boys and made sure they understood what they needed to do. The first few key word outlines we all did together. As the year progressed my 6th grader did much of the writing on his own and I just looked it over when he was finished. I worked with my 4th grader pretty much every step of the way the entire year. PAL is something you have to sit down and do with your child every step of the way. How long depends on you and your child. We spent 45 min to an hour and a half every day on PAL, depending on what we were doing and how his attention span was holding up.
What about cost? Cost is something that we all have to consider and IEW is one of the more expensive writing programs I have seen. TWSS costs $169. This includes all of the DVDs and a seminar notebook. This would be a great class for a homeschool group to take together and then you could divide the cost and just purchase the extra notebooks. The Student Writing Intensive Courses are $109 for the DVDs, TWSS overview, student 3 ring notebook with dividers and the student pack. You can choose to purchase the student pack as an ebook which comes with permission to copy within families. For me this helps to offset some of the cost as I have already had 2 children use SWI A and 4 more that can use it. The themed writing courses are $49 for teacher and student books. PAL Reading is $69 and the writing is $89 which also includes All About Spelling Level One. You have to decide if it fits into your budget or not as each family is different. Many of these courses have been used in co-ops as well which helps lower the cost. I know the majority of my homeschool budget goes to reading, writing, and math.
If you are looking for a great writing program for your homeschool, take a look and see what IEW has to offer.