Theme-Based Writing Lessons

Do you love the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) method of teaching writing but find yourself unable (due to time or confidence) to take the next step in preparing and providing writing instruction for your children? These writing lessons have been developed for busy parents and teachers like you. An IEW veteran and aficionado myself, I couldn't conceive of anything more complete than what is provided here. Each lesson offers comprehensive (just short of totally scripted) instruction. All necessary source texts are provided and are reproducible for one parent/one homeschool or one teacher/one classroom. Successful brainstorming is ensured by the inclusion of sample class whiteboards. Clear assignments (sometimes differentiated between levels) along with a checklist to aid both the student in preparation and the parent in grading are reproducible and designed to be handed to the student to work on throughout the week. Based on specific topics or events in various segments of history, the lessons include grammar exercises, vocabulary development, quizzes, and games for review and reinforcement - along with the writing instruction, of course.

In all lessons students are encouraged to polish their final draft perhaps even adding illustrations. At the end of each course the student will have a personal portfolio collection of poems, stories, reports, essays and research papers. Lessons are taught at the beginning of each week allowing the rest of the week for students to complete the assignment which they should be able to do on their own. Teacher preparation is minimal. (Do I hear an air-pumping "Yes!"?)

The courses are targeting a progressively more competent student with the assumption that students are working through the courses according to suggested grade levels. Therefore, there is an increasing complexity to the instructions, expectations, and assignments. Accordingly, teachers are encouraged to be flexible with plans. The beginning writer may need to spend more than the suggested week on difficult lessons or omit some of the grammar. Mature students may move more quickly to allow time for additional research writing and/or more creative essay writing.

Many of these courses can be used equally well within a homeschool with several different aged students and all can be used in a co-op/support school setting with more grade-specific groupings of students. It's assumed that parents/teachers have completed Teaching Writing Structure & Style (TWSS), IEW's DVD seminar for parents and teachers. Students who are familiar with IEW's writing method through the Student Writing Intensive (SWI) seminars could probably start with any volume of this series, but it's strongly recommended that students complete US Vol. 1 before US Vol. 2.

Each student will need the Student Resource Notebook which is to be assembled into a 1/2" three-ring binder on the first day of class and includes the following: a chart of IEW Stylistic Techniques; IEW Models of Structure; mini-thesaurus of great verbs, adjectives, and adverbs; IEW decorations with practice worksheets; grammar rules with practice worksheets; list of transition words and phrases and other class handouts. This Student Resource Notebook is available either as a complimentary e-book (downloadable from the IEW website) or in a spiral-bound print version (#54172) that is a separate purchase.

Some courses have both a Teacher and a Student Book. In these courses, instruction for the teacher is more extensive and both books are necessary as the course is designed to be interactive between the teacher and student. Other courses have a single book where instruction is written to the students. Teachers should plan to read over the lessons with the students and help as necessary, especially with outlining and brainstorming. The teacher will need access to a copier (or printer) for student handouts, a large whiteboard, and dry erase markers. A roll of tickets (available at office supply stores) is optional but very useful for encouragement and motivation. Students will need a 1/2" three-ring binder with eight divider tabs (for student resource packet), a 1" three-ring binder with five divider tabs, and access to a thesaurus (preference is Synonym Finder, but you can use an electronic version.) ~ Janice




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