Monday, July 8

IEW Resources {Review}

Based here in Oklahoma, The Institute for Excellence in Writing is the company to look toward for your composition needs!  We recently discovered a few more of their resources, however, including the Teaching with Games SetTimeline of Classics and A Word Write Now.  While the last one is specifically for writing, the other two have been fantastic surprises to add to our everyday classroom.  Let's order them by our family's favorites...
Teaching with Games makes it simple to use games to teach and review concepts in any subject area.  This book includes many original games, and the DVD workshop demonstrates how to quickly and easily adapt the games to any subject, grade level, and number of players.  Add some fun to your curriculum and watch your kids love learning!

This was hands-down our favorite new resource!  We printed out several of the games, and the youngest helped to cut and laminate them.  If you don't already have a laminator, you'll want to pick one up to use with these games, because your family will want to play them repeatedly!
We spent our Fun Fridays playing games to reinforce concepts learned during the week.  We had been learning about the Revolutionary War, so we used Revolutionary War Jeopardy.  I varied the point system based on age, and they got to keep the cards they won.  At the end, we had a couple of cards that no one was able to answer, and so I know what we need to work a bit more on.  This game is great because you can re-create it for any subject...and the competition really gets their brains going!

Two of their favorite subjects from last year were rocks & minerals and Ancient Egypt, so we decided to try out some games to review those topics as well.  For Ancient Egypt, we played a matching memory game, where they had to find the description and the object it described from a pile of face-down cards.  For rocks & minerals, I read a description aloud and the first to name it's mineral won the card.  Of those two, matching memory was the decided favorite.

We also reviewed world geography with the continents game.  The youngest sat on the floor to match which geographical locations went with the continent, while I challenged the oldest to do it without looking at the cards (which I had color-coded, and he had figured that out).  For North America, they had to put the feature in it's correct location on the continent.

Overall, these games were a hit!  They reinforced information (I'm not sure I'd use them to introduce material) and we got to play for Fun Friday!  If you'd like to pick them up, the two DVDs & one CD-ROM run for a total of 130 minutes and contain many of the sample games for your use.  The spiral-bound book has the games and directions for each.

The Timeline of Classics is broken down into four parts:  The Ancients, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance and Reformation, and The Modern World.  These line up perfectly with curricula such as Story of the World and Biblioplan (among others).  Each section has charts that are presented in four columns, each listing "description or time period," title, author, and level.  Levels are represented by E (elementary), M (middle school), and H (high school).  Descriptions are brief, and note key ideas, era, and location.

This resource saved me a lot of time, since I didn’t have to research what books would make good supplements for the unit we are studying.  It also indicates videos and audio books that fit each era.  They are in chronological order within the era, making it easy to know exactly which book to check out next.  We started putting stars next to the ones we have read, and will probably continue to do this as we moved through the different eras.  For now, most of our stars are next to (E) books, but the kids love reading, and I look forward to the day when everything is starred!  *Note – we may switch from stars to dates, to use this as a school record.*

In spite of blending perfect with the classical style, Timeline of Classics can be used with any curriculum or teaching style.  It is very flexible, and if you start recording things as you read them, you’ll have a ‘transcript’ of sorts to document your studies. 

This resource can be purchased in PDF version or as a physical, spiral-bound book.  Since the copyright allows for duplicating the pages for personal use, all you have to do is highlight the books to be read, and your student has his/her reading list for the year!

This book contains fascinating words to spice up any writing - your children's or your own!  IEW has compiled a thesaurus that is appropriate for even the youngest of children to use in their writing, but still quite helpful for older students and adults.  The back of the book also includes a glossary of literary terms and devices, which is helpful in teaching.

This is a fantastic resource!  We are just now beginning to work on writing (better late than never!) and my children continually use the same words over and over again.  Therefore, we focused mainly on the descriptive words – these are words that Andrew Pudewa refers to as “Dress Ups” – in our daily writings.  These “Dress Ups” are used to make writing more interesting, to attract readers, and to pull readers into the story.

Essentially, this is a thesaurus, but it’s arranged thematically, making it much easier for younger children to use.  Children will also appreciate the vivid colors and easy-to-turn-spiral-bound pages.  

The book includes these three themes, each broken down into several pages of sub-themes 

  • Character Traits (what a person is like, or how they feel)
  • Describing Words (colors, quantity, quality, etc)
  • Movement & the Senses (descriptive tastes, sounds, etc)


The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has revised one of their best-selling courses, and it's better than ever!!  Teaching Writing, Structure, and Style (TWSS) is a comprehensive course that helps teachers help their students to overcome issues such as: not knowing what to write, where to begin, or how to break the process down into manageable steps.  The focus is on basic structures of writing, with less emphasis on creative and expository writing.  The structure helps to provide a solid foundation for expanding to other areas of writing.  

The Curriculum
The main course is a twelve-hour teaching seminar, with an accompanying workbook, for the TEACHER (who is the student in this instance).  The seminar workbook provides notes from the seminar, as well as lots of samples and examples.  Also included is a set of four student demonstrations – an introduction writing workshop for each of four grade groupings (1st – 2nd, 3rd – 5th, 6th – 8th, and 9th – 12th).  The course focuses on the following topics :  note-taking, writing from notes, retelling stories, summarizing, writing from pictures, creative writing, essay writing, critiquing, and writing about literature.

When you purchase the newest edition of the complete course, you also receive free access to a number of extra resources.  The Blackline Masters e-book has 240 reproducible pages, primarily to be used by students.  Here is where you will find stories and pictures to be used as writing source material, as well as checklists, outline forms, and other resources that you need to teach the course.  You are given permission to reproduce these for your family or classroom.

The course also includes a premium subscription, which gives you one year access to the complete series of video lessons streamed to your computer or tablet, plus downloadable audio talks, access to monthly webinar training, a recommended reading list, mini-posters, mini-books, and pictures. I recommend that you purchase the course with DVDs since I expect that many parents are likely to want to revisit the video lessons and the student demonstrations beyond the first year.  Theoretically, once you have watched all of the videos, the manual should be sufficient to help you teach the lessons, but you may want to revisit the DVDs.

The writing instruction methods in this course can be used to teach students from first grade on up to high school, and over a succession of years.  The units stay the same, but you expect continued improvement from the student as you gradually expand the skills.  The program also addresses common problems among writing teachers, including: overcorrecting, not giving enough help, unclear assignments, and over-expectation.

One of the reason that these videos are so long is because the lessons move along slowly enough for you to think and work through the process.  This means that you are more likely to end up with a solid grasp of the course content, especially if you complete the writing assignments as you watch the seminar lessons. 

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