Friday, June 12, 2015

Institute for Excellence in Writing Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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IEW Review

 Making sure my children have a strong foundation for writing is very high on  my priority list. I love writing and I want my boys to love writing too. I however hate teaching writing and mechanics of language arts.
   We only have 2 years of homeschooling left, I am still in disbelief. One thing I am trying to do is settle on our core curriculum for these last two years. Set it and forget it so to speak. When I was offered the opportunity to review Institute for Excellence in Writing and their new Deluxe Combo Teacher/Student Writing Package Level C [FIX-3 & 4]  PLUS A Word Write Now and Portable Walls. This includes two full years of Intermediate Grammar instruction. (An answer to my homeschooling prayers)

  Level C is for 9-12 graders, there are 3 levels within C to choose from, the differences are in the Fix- It! Grammar books, I chose the middle one that comes with books 3 and 4. Now because this is a complete package it may seem pricy at $299 but when you break down all that you get with it you will understand immediately. When I say this is a big, heavy box that shows up at your door, It is no underestimate. You get quality and content.

  One of the things that caught my attention right away was the student DVD instruction videos. This takes the pressure of me teaching this course off me. Life is kind of hectic these days and this is a huge help in making my boys more independent than they already are in their learning. This way for us when life gets in the way the learning doesn't stop. For those of you with littles this would be extremely helpful when your bigger kids are needing to do school but you need to divert your attention to those little ones.

 You can use their online placement test to decide which set you should start with. So what comes in this huge box, I just know you are curious...
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I will go through each product and give you a little paragraph for each so you can get a glimpse into my big box of curriculum.
Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD set
This is for you Momma! Do you have a fear of not being able to teach writing effectively? I know I do. No matter how confident in yourself and how you write, it is not always easy to take what you know and communicate it to your children so that they can learn correctly. This is helpful for all ages of writing, starting with the basic paragraph and then showing you how to build upon that. We can all use a little refresher course and this is just what the homeschool teacher in me needed. A kick start to refresh myself so that I could better convey instruction to my boys when they need extra help.
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Seminar Workbook
This is the workbook that works in conjunction to the Structure and Style DVD set, not only is this your workbook but it also serves as your reference guide for all the years of your homeschooling and teaching writing. I sure wish I had this when I started homeschooling 6 years ago. It sure would have made my life so much easier. There are charts and word lists and lesson plans to keep you on task and moving along at a good pace through the school year.

Student Writing Intensive DVDs Level C, including the Structure & Style Overview and Student Notebook with handouts and lesson plans,
Remember when I mentioned you would not have to do all the teaching, here is why. Andrew Pudewa and the help of these 4 DVDs will teach your high schooler for you. Over the course of 15-30 weeks depending on the pace you set. Andrew will teach the fundamentals of writing and how to effectively use this course. My boys love learning with Andrew and not having to listen to me drone on and on. They also liked that because it is DVD based they can work on it anytime during the day or evening. Whatever fits in best with their schedule. This is most important to Alyx as he has a job that hours started picking up on when Spring came and so he is often doing his work on his own and not with Taylor. Taylor is a typical late rising teen so this works well. He can work on this after his breakfast/lunch while Alyx is at work and go at his own pace. He moves slower in his school work than Alyx does. It always amazes me how different they work and learn even though they have been taught together for most subjects since we began homeschooling. The binder has student handouts, teacher's notes, assignments, source texts and checklists. Are you beginning to see why this is THE complete curriculum package? Wait, I am not done yet!!I had Taylor use the notebook as he needs more instruction in this area than Alyx. Alyx watched the DVDs but spent more time on the Grammar Book that I am about to talk about next.
Fix-It! Grammar, Books 3 and 4 with downloadable student e-books
We received Fix-It! Grammar books 3 and 4, they were downloadable student e-books. This way we could just print them out as we went along. We had reviewed book 3 before with Alyx, so this time Taylor is working on book 3 and Alyx is working on book 4.
After I printed out the books we set up the boys "notebooks" which were really 3 ring binders. We used divider tabs to section out the book into the 4 sections. If you are using the printed book you would only need 2 sections as the first two are in the spiral bound Student Book. My boys are not big fans of grammar and writing and we have struggled with finding something that is not too overwhelming and would not cause a bunch of griping and whining. Guess What? I think we finally found it! Fix It! Grammar from IEW is the answer to my Grammar prayers. These lessons take no more than 15 minutes a day for 4 days a week. This schedule works great for us as we have co-op on Thursdays and do not do school on that day as we are gone for most of it. Then add in all of the boys  out of the house classes and quick lessons that get straight to the point are just what we need these next 2 years. I also received the hard copy of the accompanying Teacher's books for both 3 and 4.  The Teacher book is a Godsend when helping the boys out when they get stuck and makes it easy to check their work and grade them.

    Just one sentence a day! Yes you read that right, one sentence a day to work on and you get to uncover a story as you go along making the kids want to keep working just to find out what happens in the story. Yes my boys are actually enjoying their Grammar lessons and I find them often working ahead of schedule. What on Earth has happened to them? They have been transformed into compliant students who are actually not complaining instead they are doing more than they are asked. Why had I not found this sooner, it sure would have saved me a lot of grief and less tears in our homeschool classroom.  In book 3 the boys are learning and reviewing indents, capitalization, homophones and usage, apostrophes, comparative and superlative adjectives, and
verbs. All just one sentence at a time. For boys that hate to write this has been so refreshing. There is no feeling of despair or feeling overwhelmed. One sentence and then they are done. Reading, editing and rewriting. One step at a time, as they rewrite the sentences in their notebook they are in fact writing the story. So when they are done they will have rewritten the complete story. If I asked them to write a story they would have had a fit but doing it one sentence at a time they are not even thinking about it. So the results are calm students who are not complaining about all of this writing. They are simply adding to it each day.

   There are also Grammar cards that go with the rules you are learning each week, we added these to the binder by using a vinyl zipper pouch that I had found during school supply shopping for a quarter. I did not know what I was going to use them for when I found them but they sure came in handy for this class. This helps to keep everything organized and together. When printing these out I actually printed them on heavy weight cardstock I had handy for scrapbooking. This makes them more sturdy and less apt to rip when the boys are using them.
I will definitely keep ordering these for our Grammar studies when we complete books 3 and 4. I will be ordering book 5 for Alyx for next semester. The way he plows through these he could easily complete both book 5 and 6 in his Senior year that is coming up.

A Word Write Now
Are you tired of your kids using the same redundant words over and over in their writing??
I know I was. This handy book is a quick access Thesaurus of sorts to help them find engaging words to add spice to their writing. I have seen my kids using more descriptive language in both speech and writing since getting this book. Their vocabulary has expanded exponentially.
This is a keeper for sure. My college son wants one to take away to school with him next year. He says he often struggles with making his writing more interesting and not so same old same old.
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Portable Walls
Since our homeschool is in the basement and we only have one wall and it is by no means empty, the posters I had in our old house in the classroom are no longer usable in our classroom now. Maybe you do school at the Kitchen table? This would leave you in the same predicament as we are. No wall space. Portable walls are miniature versions of those posters all of us teacher's love or long to have. They can sit right on the table and offer tips for writing for your kids. A trifold brochure style makes it easy to set up a "wall" of writing helps. My boys liked it because if they wanted to study in their rooms or somewhere other than the classroom they could just fold it up and carry it with them. My college son liked this too!!
IEW Review

   All in all my boys are truly enjoying Grammar for the first time ever. Writing is coming easier to them and we are no longer arguing about getting their language arts work done and it has helped immensely by making things calmer and I know they are learning more as they are not focusing on "all of the work" like they did with other curriculums.  I have truly found the final Writing and Grammar curriculum for the last of our homeschool days. My search is OVER!! Yours can be too!

Buy the complete package for $299 and save money as if all of these items were to be purchased separately it would cost so much more!! Save yourself time, frustration(for your kids and yourself) and money. Order today so you are all set for next school year.

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