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ABQmom

IEW vs. Writing Strands

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It has a witty, slightly ironic tone that DD loves.

 

It has short, kind of open-ended assignments that are targetted at specific skills. It is considered a complete program, although I wouldn't know that from experience as I have not be all the way through it.

 

My favorite thing about it is that it teaches writing without imposing a specific style on the child--so it allows room for the child to show and develop his own writing voice. That is one of my main priorities for a good writing program. The only approach I know of that is better at encouraging a personal writing voice than Writing Strands is Writers' Jungle, which is not as curricular as WS.

 

IEW does have many strengths, and people are passionate about it. It gives more specific assignments than WS wrt sentence structure and so forth. It's great preparation for high school level non-fiction writing. However, it tends to impose a specific style on kids, and that is unacceptable to me. Also, I really, really don't want to have to watch videos to learn how to teach it. I want a TM I can read or scripted lessons. So it's basically not for me.

 

Having said that, we will probably use it sometime during the next 2 years in a coop setting, for just one year, to get the meat out of it without committing to it for the long haul. Since DD is almost 12, I think she will successfully resist the style impostion and yet add good writing tools to her toolbox from IEW at this point.

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We tried Writing Strands. It made my kids HATE writing. I don't feel it taught writing any more than jumping in a pool teaches someone to swim. Some will, but others will drown. I like IEW because it actually teaches writing skills. While I don't think it is perfect, it made a huge difference in our household.

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I liked Writing Strands until this week. I wanted a writing program that would help with writing essays - working with format and sentence structure - from the basic summary, 5 paragraph essays, note taking, outlining, research papers...That is what I was looking for. Writing strands has worked for us this year until now...when all of a sudden it seems to have taken a left turn into creative writing. I do not have a reluctant writer - she loves to make up stories for fun - but I need to find something that will work on her "form" for the writing she does on her daily subjects. I DO like Reading Strands - it is a great overview of literary techniques.

 

I am hoping that IEW will be the writing program we need for next year...

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I've used both. I've tried Writing Strands twice with my two older girls and it was a bust both times. It was boring and they couldn't see the point to it.

 

IEW has worked wonderfully though. I've been using it for 2.5 years.

 

First I got the Teaching Writing Structure and Style (TWSS) videos and watched the first four units. I taught my dd those first four units over the course of a semester, but I didn't feel like a did a good job of it. I had my dd continue using the IEW methodology for the rest of that schoolyear.

 

That summer, I got Student Writing Intensive level B (SWI-B) videos from ebay. My two older girls were entering 6th and 8th grades, so the level was perfect for them. These videos taught units 1-4 and unit 6. I felt that this gave them a much better grounding in the IEW methodology than I had on my own. My 8th grader was finally writing reports that made sense. Her creative writing had always been fantastic, but her report writing had been awful. With a structure ready-made to hang her thoughts on, her writing improved dramatically. We spent the first semester of that schoolyear working through the lesson plans that come with SWI-B and then I had my girls write using the methodology for the next semester.

 

This year, I am teaching my 4th grader how to use the IEW methodology. My 7th grader is continuing to use the IEW methodology to write. My 9th grader is using US History-based Writing Lessons. I love the writing lessons. These lessons teach all the units. My dd's writing has improved even more since we started using the lessons. Next year, my two younger girls will be studying American history and I'll have them start the writing lessons.

 

I probably won't ever buy the Student Intensive Continuation Course (SICC). The video set is very expensive. I prefer a book format anyway, so the theme-based lessons are perfect. I probably will buy the High School Essay Intensive at some point though.

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I must say, I'm surprised by the reactions to Writing Strands, but all the info was good for me to hear. I will take a closer look at IEW and will probably be back with more questions about it. Thanks again everyone.

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