Jill’s Gems: There is Value in the (Brain)storm

Sep 29, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


As we seek to teach stylistic techniques to our students, it is easy to search for ways to streamline the process. One of these temptations is the worksheet. Filled with practice sentences and blank lines for adding embellishments, the worksheet lures us into a sense of accomplishment by giving us the feeling of completion. Jill Pike, Accomplished IEW Instructor and author, addressed this issue recently in our forums when a member asked about utilizing worksheets with her students. What follows is her advice:

Beware of worksheets. Although they appear to be concentrated doses of English, when adding a dress-up is divorced from real life, aka writing, the skill practiced there does not always translate.

It is far better to continue to brainstorm dress-ups in the context of real writing until your student masters them. Thus, you are getting that concentrated work right in a real-life paragraph. Together look for several places in the paragraph where the dress-up would work. Since you should be following the “EZ + 1” method, there should only be one dress-up that needs the extra brainstorming.

If you are looking for a way for your student to learn this on his own without your help, good luck. Good writing comes from modeling. Spend time with your students, even if it is only five to ten minutes, brainstorming ideas for the new dress-up. The modeling will eventually permit them to become independent. If it’s taking too long to brainstorm multiple dress-ups, then you need to cut back on the checklist.

Modeling is still the best way to help your students over the hump of struggling with dress-ups. If you tackle only one challenging element at a time, you will find that it won’t take up a lot of your time, and your student will be able to gain independence more quickly than if you expect him to manage several challenging elements.

Do you have a question about writing, grammar, literature, or teaching other students? We have a forum for that! Join today, and ask away. There are many members on it who are very happy to share their experiences of teaching IEW to students of all ages and in a wide variety of educational environments.

Live Chat with IEW