The Institute for Excellence in Writing

Book cover: 'The Institute for Excellence in Writing'

The Institute for Excellence in Writing, owned by a Catholic convert and home school father, teaches the "structure and style of writing" through live and video workshops. This program is used throughout Canada. As do other programs IEW teaches structure (organizing material for writing) so that the final written piece will be logical, but unlike most programs children are trained to do this by using the writings of good authors. The structure of writing is taught by having children read literature, outline the literature, narrate from their outline, then write their own piece. This eliminates the problem of what to write about and gives the child a "feel" for the flow of good writing. The first of the 5 videos shows the parent how to teach outlining and the beginnings of style. Style, that which makes for a sophisticated sentence as opposed to a "Dick and Jane" sentence, is not taught by most writing programs. IEW teaches style by providing children with a checklist of things that should be included in their writings. They are taught to include strong verbs, to change the part of speech with which they begin their sentences, to include clauses, and many other things all of which is taught in a systematic way which the child can easily grasp and remember because they have the checklist next to them. My children enjoy this program and have made great strides in their writing. This flexibility works in favor of individual differences, but figuring out a schedule was challenging at first. Unlike the Writing Strands program, IEW requires a good deal of parental involvement, especially in the beginning. The 5 video tapes can be rented for $80 or purchased for $130. While the initial outlay for IEW is more than other programs, it is the only one you need to teach writing through high school. This program teaches style and structure for: non-ficiton, critical essays (book reports), narratives, creative writing, writing from pictures, research reports. The IEW forces the child to write better sentences and use more descriptive words, which adults who read a lot tend to do naturally.

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