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The new IEW for the long haul-how and why?


Meadowlark
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Hi,

So, to make a long story short, I needed a "get er done" writing curriculum for my 7th and 8th graders, to take them from a sorry state of writing ability-to a pubic school ready state. We chose the new Structure and Style by IEW, Year 1 of level B.

We are in week 6 and are loving it so far. Seriously, it's so easy for me to monitor and I love the DVD teaching by a teacher that is much funnier and clearer than I could ever be. Mr. Pudewa is quite entertaining and I hear my boys laughing from the other room quite often.  I know I'll get Year 2 next year for my then 8th grader. They will probably be off to public high school.

My questions revolves around my 4 younger kids coming up the line. They are in 4th, 3rd, 2nd and a toddler. I had planned to do the progymnasmata program from MP. We use mostly MP and while I adore the curriculum, I'm just unsure about this method of writing. We have Fable and I had planned to start it, but something is holding me back. Maybe it's seeing how easy IEW is for my older crew? Maybe it's the fear of spending the $$$ on online classes when I need to outsource (which would likely be from 6th on up for every kid if I stayed with their progression). That's some serious cash.

So...if I looked at IEW for the long-haul, I just don't get it. My 4th grader could do Level A Year 1 and then Year 2 in 4th/5th. But then what? Move on to Level B Year 1 in 6th? I see that it's constant review so it's basically teaching the exact same thing, just at different levels. In fact, I just watched the sample video for Level A and lesson 1 is exactly the same as Level B-with a different source text.

I'll leave my question open-ended because I'm not sure exactly what I'm asking. Why would one stay with IEW the whole way? Wouldn't it get repetitive? Where would I break away? Could I someone do BOTH the progymnasmata and IEW? Please tell me your plan if you love IEW. Thanks.

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We have done both IEW and MP CC.  My dd did IEW with a class in 4th grade.  It was a good start, because it tells you exactly what to do.  Then in 6th grade she started MP CC and she did through the Common Topic in 8th grade.  She also did an online MP Lit class in 7th-8th grade so she did write some other style of papers there.   After that she attended a local hybrid school.  It was classical oriented, but the Comp and Lit class did write regular style high school type essays.  She did very well.  She is in college now with a focus is Language Arts for her education degree.  She is still getting very good scores.  From that expereience I would say I would choose to do that again, but not go beyond 8th-9th grade with the CC style comp.  My DS1 started at the same time as she did and he went beyond Common Topic and he really loved Refutation! LOL, but he also went to hybrid school in 9th and he's had no problems writing typical essays and research papers.  Those are our experiences, but maybe it'll help you decide.  Oh, and dd loves the CC style of instruction in writing.  

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Just now, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I love IEW and used their old version, for SWI-C, SICC, and then Advanced Communication (I dropped Elegant Essay because we hated it.). 

I personally wouldn't stay with any writing program the whole way through, IEW or not, as I feel that a varied approach will only lead to a better, stronger, more versatile writer as long as it's consistently done and it is not a student who has an extreme struggle with writing. If I had a kid who truly struggled for any reason, I wouldn't hesitate with IEW if it is what got done and allowed the student to be a decent writer. However, for a good writer, I otherwise would vary the programs past two years of IEW. 

In my oldest's case, post IEW we moved into WTMA Rhetoric, and then more Rhetoric levels at home using books I pulled from suggestions here. We did try LTOW and were both completely lost and I did not have the time or energy to make it work. 

But I suggest planning on breaking away sometime around 9th or 10th high school. In my hindsight/do over, I would do 2 years of IEW, not the 3rd, then 3 years of WTMA Rhetoric, and then a year of a program with formal grammar included- BJU is what I bought with that plan but did not fully get to execute it. 

So, from a financial point of view-my plan makes no sense. If I do IEW with my kids in 4th and 5th, then I'm stuck because I will buy Level 2 Years 1 and 2 (for my older kids). Part of why I didn't mind buying it was because I thought my younger kids could use it (in 6th/7th), which would make it very worth it only to have to buy the additional binder. But now, it looks like I'd be buying 4 years of IEW. That's what I'm concerned about-4 years of IEW. I guess it's only $300 or so, but my husband won't be happy if we don't use it after paying for the forever streaming.

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We do theme books for 3rd - 5th and then the videos for 6th - 8th (the old ones, SWI and SICC B). Then we do Elegant Essay, Windows to the World, and Writing the Research Paper and consider them college ready as far as composition goes.

So maybe theme books are an option for your younger kids?

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I used the “old” IEW with my kids as their main writing program from 3rd through 8th grades. The old IEW SWI and SICC added complexity each year. So even though the program was teaching and reviewing the same units, the complexity and assignments were progressively at higher levels. As my kids got older, I relaxed on the checklist requirements because they naturally included the usual elements in their writing and didn’t require a strict checklist.  Periodically we took some breaks from IEW to provide variety.

I am not familiar with the new IEW program, so I can’t give you advice about that.  My main reason for replying to your post is because you desire to get your children ready for public school writing.  From what I have observed in our area, my kids are able write at a higher level than the public school students we know. If your aim is public school writing level, that shouldn’t be difficult. Personally I recommend that you aim a lot higher than public school standards. 

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I don't have all my IEW materials in front of me, and I haven't taught with them for a few months because I am waiting for IEW Level C SSS to be available so I am not totally sure about this, but as I recall, the level B materials go more in depth with units merely introduced in Level A. For example, Level  B students spend more time with Unit 6 then Level A students do. I also think they spend more time and effort with Units 7 and "super" or longer essays (I don't remember the unit # but probably 8??) In fact, I am not sure if Level A even gets into those areas all that much. By level B and even more in level C, Unit 9 is stressed (critiques, literary analysis). Also, the style expectations get more sophisticated as the levels increase. Adverbial teeter-totters are not found in Level A, for example.

What I read somewhere (don't remember where) is that a student does not need to repeat year one of a subsequent level if he or she has been successful. Thus, a typical progression would be SSS Level A year one, SSS Level A Year two, SSS Level B year two, and SSS Level C year two. I also own almost all the theme books and they provide additional practice and techniques in ways that support and reinforce writing across the curriculum.

That said, I also think it's quite important to vary writing instruction, so my 7th grader will be doing Writing with Style Year one along with SSS Level B year 2 (when it's released). Over this last summer, she took some online writing courses with www.home2teach.com in the areas of descriptive writing and literary analysis. She also enjoys creative writing, which is not a strong suit of IEW or WWS, so I envision an entirely different curriculum to scratch that itch.

I also don't start formal writing instruction until grade 4.

 

Edited by CAtoVA
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I have dd9 doing Level A year 1 now along with the online class (which is fantastic, btw).  My older daughter did the old version of Levels A & B, Student Writing Intensive and Student Continuation Course.  The way it worked before (like the previous poster said), and I think still does, is that you do Year one of a level, then year 2, then year 2 of the following levels.  Levels B & C add units that aren't in level A, as well as more difficult stylistic techniques.  I have only seen the Level A of the new version, but I am relatively sure it will be the same as the SWI and SICC courses were.

If you bought the DVD versions, you would be able to easily sell those later and recoup some of your investment (obviously not true if you use the streaming version, which is what I'm doing).  I was able to sell my DVD sets of SWI and SICC levels for half of what I paid.

 

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