Theme-Based or Video-Based? Either Is a Win-Win!

Aug 10, 2023 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

Whether you use one of IEW’s theme-based courses or a Structure and Style for Students video-based course, it is a win-win for your students. While both use a spiral method to teach the skills needed to become competent and confident communicators and are based around the nine structural units, there are some differences that make each program unique.

Our theme-based courses provide a year of ready-made writing lessons through IEW’s Structure and Style method, focused around fun and fascinating themes like fairy tales, world history, science, and more. Since they do not include a video component, these courses are designed to be used by an instructor who has been through or is currently viewing the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style course. Each lesson in the theme-based books includes source texts, style practice, and checklists.

Most of the theme-based books work through all nine IEW units, so they can be used for both new and returning IEW students. They often have multiple levels of instruction included, which allow you to choose an easier level book for younger students while adjusting expectations for older students. This can be especially beneficial for families with students at different grade levels and abilities. Many of the theme-based books include free downloadable simplified source texts and advanced additions so that the same course can be used by students who are in different grades. With theme-based writing books, teachers can choose a theme that parallels other classroom content or appeals to your students.

The Structure and Style for Students video curriculum has the same objective as the theme-based courses: providing a year of writing instruction using IEW’s unique method. However, the difference is that IEW’s founder and master teacher Andrew Pudewa directly teaches the students on video in twenty-four weeks of lessons. This provides support and modeling for the teacher and the students. This modeling is especially helpful for teachers new to IEW as they can watch Andrew Pudewa teach the IEW method throughout the year with their students. Students love Mr. Pudewa’s engaging style and humor and are captivated by the interaction between him and his class. The students feel like they are part of his class. Sample free lessons of the Structure and Style for Students courses here.

Additionally, the video instruction also promotes independence as students can watch the lessons on their own and work through it with Mr. Pudewa and his class. Instead of teaching, parents serve as editors by editing the rough draft of the writing assignments for their students, giving even more of a sense of independence.

To easily adapt the weekly schedules, multiple suggestions are included to address both homeschool and a variety of different classroom situations. The weekly schedule also suggests an appropriate level of Fix It! Grammar.

Regardless if you choose theme-based or video-based, IEW recommends completing the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) training course. Most parents and teachers did not learn the IEW method when they learned to write, so they need a guide for understanding the method. The TWSS provides a complete explanation and demonstration of IEW’s methods and techniques so that parents effectively aid their students in their materials from grades K-12. The TWSS is referenced in the Teacher's Manual of Structure and Style for Students and the theme-based books and tells exactly what videos to watch for each student lesson so parents understand and support what their students are learning.

Finally, parents can alternate between the theme-based and video-based programs from year to year, allowing variety. Although there is no required path when using IEW’s materials, this pathway shows where to begin and will simplify choices for the years to come, making either a theme-based or video-based choice a win-win for students!

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