Answer: Many of the parents and teachers who hear about our program or visit our website come away overwhelmed because of the different materials and package options. Rightly they call and ask for advice as to what to buy. We consistently give the same answer: If you have not attended our seminar Teaching Writing: Structure & Style or seen it on DVD, that's the place to start. Everything else we sell is supplementary and peripheral to that.
However, since it usually takes a year or so to fully understand and implement a new teaching methodology, we offer the Student Writing Intensives to help you over the learning-curve hump of your first year. Andrew comes alongside to teach your student and all you have to do is provide the practice necessary to make the lessons stick. Because the daily lesson suggestions provide the practice, you can concentrate on simply teaching your first year. After that, it is likely that you can go on to teach writing without purchasing anything further.
You do not need the Student Writing Intensive to teach your students, but you do save $29 when you purchase a Student Writing Intensive along with Teaching Writing: Structure and Style. If you can only afford one or the other, we recommend the teacher's seminar. As the adage says, "If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life."
Question: Can my student watch the Teacher's Seminar with me?
Answer: Absolutely! Andrew is an enjoyable teacher to all ages. However, the material is presented at an adult level and speed and would require further re-teaching and a slower pace of practice to make it comfortable for your student.
Question: I have children of several different grade levels. Which Group Level should I buy?
Answer: We generally recommend that you shoot for the middle. All our Student Writing Intensives presume no previous experience with our program, so you won't miss anything by starting with the Group B or C Level. The classes are not, however, juvenile in a way that they would bore or offend older students. We often have very mixed classes.
Do be aware that although the content and pacing of Groups A and B are fairly similar, Group C is designed for 8th grade on up and would be too intimidating for those younger than 6-7th grade. If your age span is quite large, either choose two different Student Intensives, or just one and plan to teach up or down using what you learn from the teacher seminar.
Additionally, we do offer the daily lesson suggestions for all Group Levels free of charge for those who purchase the Student Writing Intensive. You can go to the IEW Lesson Share site to download these tools to assist you in managing the multiple levels with one Student Intensive.
Question: I have several children. Do I need to buy extra student materials for them?
Answer: You may freely copy any of our written materials for use in your own home by one teacher. If you are a classroom teacher you may make copies for your students. If you are showing the teacher’s seminar to a group or doing a Student Writing Intensive as a co-op, each teacher should have his/her own teacher seminar syllabus and each family of students should have its own student notebook.
Question: If I purchase the Student Writing Intensive Group A and to get more Student Seminars, what do I purchase next? Do I go on to Group B?
Answer: No. The Student Writing Intensives all begin at the beginning with keyword outlines and summarizing from notes. All three levels essentially cover the same thing, although B and C cover a bit more ground.
When you are done with the Student Writing Intensive, you do not want to start all over by going to the next group. Instead, move on to the Student Intensive Continuation Course (SICC), which picks up where the Student Writing Intensive left off. You can move on to the same Group that your student finished, so SWI-A would move on to SICC-A, and so on.
You can move from SICC Group A to SICC Group B and then to SICC Group C, because even though they are teaching through the syllabus, they do so at ever-increasing depth and with completely different assignments.
Question: How much of the Teacher’s Syllabus does the Student Writing Intensive cover?
Answer: The Student Writing Intensive is a complete course based on the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style Seminar, but specifically for the student. With 10 hours of material, it covers about 65% of what we present in the adult seminar and is a very effective hands-on student interactive course. The course is graded differently as well due to the content and amount of material presented. The Student Writing Intensive course has been a big hit among high school students. The Student Intensive Continuation course picks up where the Intensive left off and teaches the remainder of the syllabus.
Question: If I get the Bible Based or History Based lessons, do I need to purchase the teacher's training?
Answer: Yes! You do! These materials are meant to be supplementalan aid to the teacher. There will never be a workbook that can teach writing to a child. Learn our system; then this book will be helpful.
Question: Will this course teach my children all kinds of writing?
Answer: Teaching Writing: Structure and Style gives models for managing just about any writing prompt. Learn the models, and you can apply them to almost any assignment. Recommendations for teaching specific types of writing, such as persuasive essays, are only touched upon, so a supplementary book, such as the Guide to Powerful Paragraphs or our Advanced Communication Series may be helpful.
Question: Is this a curriculum? Are there workbooks and materials for each grade level? After the seminar, is there a lot more that must be purchased?
Answer: No, this is not a curriculum in that sense. What we offer is a syllabus, or collection of models and techniques that can be applied at many different grade levels and in a wide variety of situations. Our primary purpose is to offer an effective teacher development program, and to the extent that we can support and expand teacher (and home teacher) understanding of our program, we teach classes for children as well.
We do offer writing lessons and source texts that can be used for a variety of grade levels and our Student Continuation Course picks up where the Student Writing Intensive left off, but you do not necessarily need to purchase these. Our teacher’s course is designed to teach you how to teach writing so that writing can be where it belongs: part of what you are learning in history and science. All the other helps and supplements simply make the lesson planning a little easier.
Question: What else, besides the video seminar, is needed to implement your writing program?
Answer: Because we offer a "syllabus" rather than a "curriculum," we do not sell piles of student materials. We believe that writing should not be a subject unto itself, but a part of the study of history, science, literature, etc. Therefore we recommend that source texts for the writing program be short paragraphs and blocks of information from the student's other study materials. Stories for Unit III can be drawn from fables, myths, Bible stories, fairy tales, readers or literature books. Pictures for Unit V can be taken from picture books, newspaper comics, or cartoons.
However, we do sell a few items which, although not essential, may be a timesaver for the teacher. The Student Writing Intensive gets you and your student off the ground quite rapidly.
We have many source texts for your convenience. "Articles for Note-taking and Summaries" are very simple short paragraphs on a variety of topics appropriate for 2nd-4th grade reading level. The "Mini-Book" are useful when teaching Unit IV & VI (Research reports) because they provide multiple references with similar topical information. Although the teacher should not limit research report sources to the Mini-Books, they can be useful, especially when appropriate library books are difficult to find. "Pictures for Writing" provides sets of three clear and easy-to-see sequential pictures, with suggested story outlines. "Source Texts for American History" (on CD-ROM) provides sources to teach all nine Units.
There are also ready-made writing lessons such as the Bible Based Lessons or History Based Lessons that give you both sources and teaching ideas to take you through all nine Units. Finally, the grammar books and Pellegrino's writers guides offer indespensible writing tools.
Fundamentally, however, the syllabus is designed to provide all the basic information you will need. It is probably best to consider purchasing our supplementary materials after having completed the video course, once you get a feeling for what you will want to teach. See our resource catalog.
Question: Can you take Purchase Orders from Charter Schools?
Answer: We can and often do receive orders from charter schools or public school-based programs. Although we don't relish the added paperwork, we are happy for the business. IEW is an approved vendor for many charter schools in CA, AK and districts in WA. Check with your program.
Question: What do you charge for foreign purchase?
Answer: Payment in US dollars is required. Actual shipping (International Air unless you specify otherwise) will be charged. Missionaries may take a 10% discount, which may help offset some of the shipping to foreign countries if required.
I used just the SW1A for my 4th/6th graders with out the TWSS, and regretted it. Although Andrew does a great job of teaching the children (my kids really enjoy watching the DVDs), he isn't around to answer the questions to help the children when they put their pencil to the paper.
As a result, I have had to stop the SW1A in the middle (at unit 4) so I could get and view the TWSS to figure out some stuff that wasn't obvious to me on the SW1A.... It certainly would have been better for my children if I had viewed the TWSS as we were going along! Although I am a good writer (sorry, this doesn't count - no rough draft today:) it has been difficult to teach what comes naturally to me. Also, the SW1A doesn't give hints like "Hands off content, hands on structure & style."
I agree with Yvonne about not just reps recommending SWI over TWSS, especially if cost is a factor, and that really concerns me. If I could purchase only one IEW product to teach writing, it would be TWSS. That is the foundation of the program.
For those who are concerned that they might watch TWSS and then have trouble getting started, but can't afford SWI (which is great for getting you going and keeping you going) I highly recommend that you find another family or families to work with. Do a co-op or just hold each other accountable as you work on your own.
I first watched TWSS with a group of about 8 homeschooling moms. That's when I got hooked. When I was ready to get past the first couple of units, I found that I need more help, i.e. accountability and discipline. So, I bought an SWI as used it as the basis for my lessons, but I found that wasn't enough. I wanted to watch the TWSS again myself. I finally bought TWSS and got a different group of moms together to watch it. The combination of both is ideal, but again, I can't say enough about the importance of watching TWSS.
If TWSS is too expensive, consider buying it with a group. Everyone must purchase their own syllabus ($22, I think) so you can all watch the TWSS. It is more fun to watch it as a group, and it's great to share ideas and clarify things together.
I am so glad I bought my own copy of TWSS, though. I re-watch portions, have my kids watch portions, and I use the syllabus that goes with it often.
Cost is an issue for many of us, but if you consider how much it costs to by a Language Arts program each year for one student or pay
for one English class at a community college, and consider the cost of a TWSS/SWI combination, which you can use for all your kids forever, it's, IMO, a great deal.
Sheryl in MA
Question: It costs so much! It is worth it?
Answer: I want to point out, especially to those contemplating buying the IEW DVD's, that this is a one time purchase. The core Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) program takes you from about 2nd grade all the way through high school level papers. I could say - even to college level. Many of the homeschool students in my group, who used only TWSS for a number of years, are turning out "A" papers in their college classes.
There are other supplements you can choose to purchase through IEW, but the core program really is sufficient if push comes to shove. :)
Using the DVD's to refresh your own understanding of a unit from year to year, or having a child watch a certain section with you, also
means the lectures are used over and over.
I do understand the aversion to the price, but my testimonial is: I would rather have done without many other curriculum choices to be able to purchase IEW, than to have passed up the IEW program. It is a core part of the education my children receive.
I have to piggy back on this and say that I only heard of IEW last year and struggled with cost, as my 10yos and 13yod struggled with writing. I purchased the TWSS and we are starting Unit 8 next week. There are no more tears...from my children or me! lol Their writing now makes sense! They have a long way to go to maturity, but it makes sense! I think I put less effort into teaching writing now than I did all the previous years. I can see this taking us all the way through high school. I wish I had known about and gotten this years ago. Oh well.
This has been the best curriculum investment I ever made. Now that their writing skills are on target, they can write and answer questions for any subject, making those curriculums doable. Also, learning how to key word outline has helped in many ways with other subjects. It helps them to find the main idea in their other subjects while reading, so that they are actually learning the content now instead of struggling with small details. It also helps them to study for tests, by picking out the main ideas which will be tested.