Why the Same Nine IEW Units Year after Year?

Aug 17, 2023 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team

When students complete their first year of an IEW Structure and Style course whether it is one of our theme-based courses or Structure and Style for Students video-based courses, parents often ask, “What is next?” Sometimes parents question, “Isn’t this the same thing that they did last year? Won’t my student be bored doing the same thing again? Don’t you have something different for my student to complete this year?” The answer is yes, no, and yes. The key to IEW’s methodology is repetition, repetition, repetition. It may seem that a student is repeating the same material year after year. However, the program is designed to work through the same nine IEW structural units each year but with different source texts, faster pacing, and new skills and concepts within the nine structural models. This is the key to mastery education in which a student learns to become a confident and competent communicator and thinker in all areas of life.

In today’s modern education system, students are trained to learn the information so they can pass a test and then move on to new information only to pass another test with the hope of retaining the information. Mastery learning, or in simple terms repetition, repetition, and more repetition, is the true key to learning any skill or subject. You can use the analogy of how athletes, artists, or even ballerinas learn to be great in their field. They practice on a consistent basis day in and day out the required skills and techniques of their crafts. It is in the repetition of practicing the basics that develops and hones those skills over time. Andrew Pudewa explains his thoughts on this subject in "The Benefits of Mastery Education” (Podcast 264) as he shares how repetition and reinforcement empower students to think better, and learn how the mastery of subjects enables students to form skills and apply their knowledge later in life. This method of cumulative practice, sometimes referred to as “mastery learning,” is at the core of high-level artistic competence, where basics are practiced again and again until they become effortless—even second nature. This is the goal of teaching the same IEW structural units each year.

Another benefit to students and teaching parents is the ease of learning that is acquired through applying the concept of mastery learning in our program. IEW’s methodology teaches students the basic building blocks for organizing different types of compositions. They learn note taking, retelling narrative stories, summarizing a reference, writing from pictures, summarizing multiple references, inventive writing, formal essay models, and finally the formal critique. In the early elementary years, students are gradually introduced to the nine structural models in second to fifth grades. By the time students are in middle school and high school, they are ready to practice all nine IEW structural units with source texts at a faster pace, add additional concepts, and practice additional skills in their weekly writing assignments. The process of mastery learning allows a student to eventually experiment with combining various structural models to skillfully organize their writing for other types of assignments. In the article “What Is IEW? Method Not Madness,” Andrew further develops how IEW’s Structure and Style method produces ease of learning for students and teaching parents through mastery learning of the same IEW units year after year.

The most important benefit to repeating the same structural units each year is that both student and teaching parents have a set of clear and concise expectations for completing the weekly writing assignments. Each year the sequence of introducing the structural models is repeated. As students repeat this process year after year, they learn to hone and internalize the structural models in order to complete their weekly writing assignments. In the same manner, the teaching parent develops mastery in teaching the same IEW structural units alongside their student. This allows the teaching parent to offer as much assistance and help as their student needs to master a particular structural unit. In addition, the teaching parent is able to give clear and concise instructions with the weekly checklist, which contains the exact expectation for the weekly writing assignment. Both the student and the teaching parent can meet the challenges of the weekly writing assignments with clear and concise instructions and expectations. You can read more about the beauty of the weekly checklist with this blogpost “Celebrate the Checklist” by Jill Pike.

Now you and your student are equipped and ready to meet the coming school year with a renewed sense of writing expectations while you progress through the same IEW structural units. Both of you know that this will produce a habit that produces ease that produces fluency which will produce confidence in both the student and the teaching parent. This is the goal of teaching the same IEW structural units each year. IEW wants students to become confident and competent communicators and thinkers in all areas of their life.

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