Empowered across the Curriculum

Jan 08, 2019 | Posted by Jennifer


Many years ago when I was a much younger, somewhat bewildered homeschool mom standing in front of the IEW® booth at a homeschool convention, I had one goal in mind—finding support to help me integrate writing across the subjects. I knew I needed some support and guidance to help pull it together, and I had heard that IEW was the company that could help me make that vision a reality. That day I walked away with my first IEW purchase—the classic Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) and Student Writing Intensive combination.* Undoubtedly, it was my best curriculum purchase ever.

Once home, while I took my time learning all about the various writing units and stylistic techniques through the TWSS, I plunged my kids directly into the Student Writing Intensive.* Admittedly we weren’t yet writing across the curriculum, but the Intensive was a helpful first step to learning about how to structure and pace our year. And having Andrew Pudewa model how to teach really gave me the boost in confidence that I needed.

By the next year, I was ready. I had watched all the videos, completed the writing practicum, and studied how Andrew led my kids through the Student Writing Intensive.* Equipped with my trusty TWSS, my compass and sextant for our writing journey, we plunged into our year. I had three young children, ages twelve, ten, and eight, and all three had different learning styles, gifts, and challenges. The beauty of the Structure and Style® system is that the structure was already in place. The style was also in place. All I needed to do was follow the EZ+1 formula to tailor the assignments to my children’s unique needs and find the source texts.

That was the year our family studied ancient history for history, basic astronomy for science, and the Book of Judges for our Bible study. We also did a lot of reading. I planned our assignments in 8-week blocks, using the suggested schedule of moving through a unit each month. Some writing lessons focused on history, others on science, and still others on the Bible and literature. Much of the source material I used for Units 1 and 2 came from Usborne and DK books. The paragraphs were short and related in some way to what we were studying. Unit 3 was our favorite because I pulled out Milo Winter’s Aesop for Children. The brief tales underscored our ancient history, were easy to read and understand, and were filled with interesting lessons and beautiful illustrations.That year of writing across the curriculum still stands as one of my favorites.

Another easy way I have found to integrate writing across the curriculum is through IEW’s theme-based books. This has worked especially well in the history courses I have taught. IEW has theme-based books that focus on all areas of history, including ancient, medieval, United States, and world history. The materials are so nicely aligned that frequently my students would be writing on the same topic they were studying that very week in their history coursework. Occasionally I enjoy tweaking the theme-based materials by substituting a lesson in the book with one that I have created based on a different subject we are studying or something my students are interested in. Most recently my class and I enjoyed writing a Unit 5 paper based on the sled dog scene in an earlier blog post.

Are you interested in creating writing assignments for your students based on their other subjects? I encourage you to take the plunge. By integrating your writing into their other coursework, you will enhance your students’ understanding and appreciation for the material they are encountering and streamline the amount of content you are teaching. The writing assignments will benefit from having an added boost of relevancy, for they will be directly related to the subjects you are teaching. The learning will stick. I know it for a fact. My kids still enjoy sharing knowledge they gained from that year we spent writing across our curriculum, even my youngest. To this day, ancient history remains her favorite historical period to study.

I’m glad I took the time to learn about and invest in IEW at that convention booth so many years ago. It was the first step in a long and exciting journey of teaching writing, first to my own children and, eventually, to many other students as well. And thanks to Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, I am equipped and able to comfortably design and teach my own assignments. It is an empowering thought!


*The Student Writing Intensive series was discontinued in November 2019 and replaced by the Structure and Style for Students program.

IEW® and Structure and Style® are registered trademarks of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, L.L.C.

Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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