Observations of an IEW Online Class

Apr 14, 2023 | Posted by Lizabeth Brasells

IEW Online classes are a perfect option for students who want to work through the Structure and Style for Students program but whose parents would prefer someone else to review the students’ work. The classes require students to watch the Structure and Style for Students videos, attend a one-hour online session with an IEW Accredited Instructor, complete both writing and grammar assignments, and then review a graded assignment that includes constructive feedback so that the students know what specific concepts they need to work on. Class size is limited to ensure the instructor’s ability to provide students with the quality of instruction and support that customers have come to expect from IEW.

I have had the joy of teaching Level C classes with the IEW Online department since 2015. During that time I have taught more than a thousand students. Because these are high school students, I often have the privilege of writing letters of recommendation for scholarships or college admissions.

Recently I had the opportunity to assist a former student with a graduate school project which required her to observe one of my online classes and write a review of the experience. If you are considering IEW Online classes for your student for the 2023-24 school year, then perhaps her review, posted below, can be helpful.

For more information or to meet IEW Online instructors and view class offerings, click here.


Dear Mrs. B.,

I wanted to begin this letter by offering my sincere thanks for the opportunity to observe one of your classes last week. I would here like to present my report of your writing class, unit OSS4-1C2-S23. The majority (if not all) of your students are homeschooled teens in high school from diverse backgrounds and even different nations, which presents a unique challenge in teaching writing, especially regarding the use of English language and grammar. All in all, you create a safe space for questions, encourage creative license in essay writing, all while simultaneously advocating for a strict adherence to assignment instructions for a mastery of the academic writing genre.

Upon entering the class, I was greeted in chat by students who—despite the online learning medium—seemed very close knit in communication. A few wished one student a happy birthday, I was greeted kindly by a few others, and everyone engaged in the chat was enthusiastic and interested in each other, which was lovely to see in an online classroom (when community can often be difficult to foster).

I observed your first-class session in the persuasive essay model module of the course, which I think was fitting, as I was particularly interested in how you would introduce a new unit topic.

As your class consists of high school students learning how to assemble their novice essays, your insistence on four to five paragraphs (as opposed to pages) to start with is particularly fascinating. Allowing each student to take small chunks that will later lead to college-length essays allows them to narrow their focus and not worry about covering everything. You prepared students for the next week’s assignment, which was to outline a five-paragraph essay and prepare topic sentences for each paragraph. This kind of cumulative assignment is perfect for students just getting their toes wet with the persuasive genre and will excellently prepare them for writing the final essay (based on their existing outline) in the following weeks. Your choice of example topics when assigning the persuasive essays are timely, and you encourage your students to use writing for social reform and change. Research questions such as “Should textbooks be digital or printed for K-12 students?” and “Who has the right to own archeological artifacts?” address important issues in education and international rights, prompting students to consider writing as not merely an academic endeavor, but as an ameliorative tool. This even begins the conversation of writing as a kind of voice for the marginalized in an age when artifact ownership and K-12 textbook accessibility are two of many topics currently circulating in the discourses of social justice. Your insistence to consider, respect, and write for the opposition when writing a persuasive essay—as opposed to merely supporting one’s own point of view—is excellent and imperative to effective persuasive writing (and useful to consider for high school students who are likely forming strong political opinions).

In the final thirty minutes of class time, your lecture turned to English grammar. The method of teaching grammar through “Fix-It!” stories (revising the grammar in a story a few sentences per week until the story is finished at the end of the school year) is an excellent approach to such a rigid, daunting topic that can prove tedious if not taught memorably. I found class engagement surprisingly active during this portion of the class as you called on all your students to share the grammatical revisions from their workbooks with the class. Even when student answers were misguided, you either pointed them in the right direction, recognized the merit of their answers, or allowed another student (with their “hand” raised) an opportunity to answer. Finally, as you came to the final few minutes, you reminded students of their upcoming assignment (and subsequent essay), profusely encouraged them to reach out with questions or concerns (“It’s never a bother” were your exact words), created a safe environment for them to work in, and eased grading pressures.

All in all, I was delighted to be in your classroom again. During the entire class time, your teaching exuded accessibility for students as you encouraged them to seek your help both inside and outside of class for assistance. Your choice of example persuasive essays exhibited timely research questions, encouraging students to write for change within our society and their individual communities. The assignments being distributed in small portions over the course of several weeks allows students to take their time digesting the persuasive essay model, which is an overall excellent preparation for college-level writing. Allow me to again express my thanks for allowing me to watch your class session. You have an amazing, engaged class community that is on its way to becoming a group of successful academic writers and, perhaps more importantly, writers for change.

With gratitude,

Emily Patricia Betts

Lizabeth Brasells graduated from Bob Jones University with a B.A. in elementary education. After teaching middle school for five years, she was blessed to be able to stay home and care for her family. The transition into homeschooling was natural, and over the past three decades, she has educated and seen all three of her children graduate as homeschoolers from high school and become productive and self-sufficient adults. An opportunity to teach drama at a local homeschool co-op led to the discovery of a need for an IEW teacher. Lizabeth jumped at the chance to learn and work with this valuable tool. After a year of teaching SWI-B, she received her IEW accreditation as a Certified Instructor. She has taught IEW to students for the last two decades in various co-ops and private tutoring sessions and is excited to be a part of IEW's Online Classes teaching team. She has also joined the customer service team as a Customer Service Consultant and enjoys supporting teachers and families using IEW materials with their students.


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