The Habit of Making Decisions


Aug 19, 2016 | Posted by Janet Spitler

IEW’s approach to writing instruction trains students to ask questions, and it creates decision-makers. As they work through the structural models, students grow in their competence and their confidence in making decisions. Let’s track some of the decisions students will make as they work through our system.

First, the students learn to make decisions about style. Whether they create a word list or are given a list to spark their creativity, they must choose the best option for the context. They make that decision for each stylistic technique they include. Consider the fact that they also have to decide which verb or adjective in each paragraph they will improve as well as choose which sentences could be combined with a who/which clause or a www.´╗┐´╗┐asia.b clause (when, while, where, as, since, if, although, because). Decision-making abounds when the students add style to their compositions.

Next, decisions are necessary when the students work on the organization of a written piece. Beginning in Unit 3, students must make decisions about the order of the sentences in each paragraph. In later units, they must decide which facts to include and which to leave out along with how they will order the facts. However, the units are arranged so that the more difficult structures, which require more decisions from the students, come later in the syllabus.

Finally, students make decisions about content. Again the order of the units incrementally gives the student greater control over the content. At first, they merely retell the content that has been provided for them; then they are required to make some decisions about which part of the content they will share. Gradually, the students take responsibility for all of the content. In the last two units the students are sharing their unique perspectives and arguments, but rather than merely stating what they think, they are backing it up with evidence.

As our choices become increasingly more difficult, our society becomes less and less skilled in making decisions. While most of the advice or coaching seems to be about making "good" decisions versus "bad" ones, the reality is that many people are actually choosing between making a conscious decision or simply waiting until the situation chooses for them. This may be because they are unaware that they have a choice or because they believe that if they don’t make a decision, they can’t be held responsible for the outcome. This is another reason you can trust the system. As a habit, students who are trained in the Structure and Style™ method will seek out their choices and confidently make decisions.


Janet Spitler, IEW's Schools Division Director, heads up our efforts to support full-time schools with ongoing training, teacher mentoring, telephone contact, and classroom-specific materials. With abundant classroom experience, Janet shares her experience of building a linguistically rich environment to develop a love for language and a community of learners. While she cherishes the time she spent influencing students and parents, today she applies that same dedication to the classroom teachers who use this method. She is accredited as an IEW® Instructor at the highest level.

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