Year One of Structure and Style in the Classroom: Look Back and Reflect. Look Ahead and Plan.

Jun 22, 2018 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


A note before you begin: This post contains many helpful links to materials, related blogs, and additional information on our Schools website. We recommend that you read the blog all the way through without clicking on the links at least once to avoid “information overload.” During subsequent readings, click on the links that interest you and come back to the blog as often as needed.

Congratulations! You have finished your first year of implementing Structure and Style in your classroom. Now what? While it’s completely understandable that you are eager to enjoy a well-deserved rest, before you do why not take some time to reflect on the year you just completed? When school starts up again in a few months, you will be glad you did.

It can be a challenge to implement a new curriculum or method. So many times over my three decades of teaching, I recall wishing I could have a do-over or thinking, “Next year I’ll do this differently.” Sound familiar? Don’t despair! Whether you sailed smoothly through the year or had a few problems along the way, spending some time looking back at your year using Structure and Style and setting goals for the next school year is well worth your time. The Schools Division Team at IEW is here, ready to encourage you every step of the way.

One of the ways we provide this support is our guidebook for administrators: the IEW® Handbook for Administrators and School Leaders. Published in 2016, this handbook contains strategies to support teachers and to build and sustain momentum over time. In this blog post, we’ll focus on some end-of-the-year recommendations to contemplate this first year.


First, let’s review the goals for teachers who are using Structure and Style for the first time. During Year One, teachers should

  • focus on concrete requirements and accuracy by following the lesson plans in the Classroom Supplement with fidelity;

  • follow the prescribed teaching procedure for each lesson and use the provided source texts to ensure that all necessary steps are included in each lesson, such as ample direct instruction and modeling, oral retelling, introducing stylistic techniques appropriately, and providing checklists for each assignment;

  • teach students to use structurally and grammatically correct stylistic techniques;

  • follow the recommended pacing chart provided in the Classroom Supplement, making adjustments as needed while moving through the units as directed;

  • develop students’ competency in writing, demonstrated in measurable increments of performance; and

  • substitute content materials and alternative source texts, following the lesson plan steps provided in the Classroom Supplement when the teacher feels comfortable enough to try it.


Here are some recommended end-of-year steps and questions to guide your reflection:

  1. Consider your own progress as a teacher.

  • What went well this first year? How can you make the most of those strengths next year?

  • Did you follow the recommended pacing chart in your Classroom Supplement? If not, what got in your way?

  • Where did you struggle? What units were challenging for you?

  • What made them challenging? Did you have access to Models for Imitation? If so, did that help?

  • Did you seek help from your administrator or school mentor? From IEW’s Help and Support systems? From an IEW Educational Consultant?

  • For teachers using Level A, B, or C Classroom Supplements, what source texts will you use in Year Two? Remember that you have extra source texts on the Help Page. The instructions to access the Help Page are on page 18 of your Classroom Supplement.

  • Did you teach any writing lessons using content-area materials instead of or in addition to the provided source texts in the Classroom Supplement? How did that go? Can you include more next year?

  • Did you feel ready to differentiate the checklist for your struggling students or students who were ready for more challenge?

  • What would you like to do differently next year?

  • What additional training do you need?


2. Review your students’ progress from this past year.

Look for evidence of improvement. This should be encouraging! You’re looking for progress, not perfection. In my classroom, I had students who needed two years to get to grade level, yet I observed good progress during that first year. I also had “A” students who wrote proficiently but rarely reached an advanced level. Before IEW, I didn’t have the tools to help them. Once they knew how to add interesting dress-ups and use more complex sentence styles, my good writers became excellent writers.

  • Look through your students’ writing portfolios or whatever system you used to save students’ writing during the year.

  • If you administered baseline and end-of-year writing assessments, compare the quality.

  • If your school piloted Structure and Style this year, compare student progress in IEW classrooms to non-IEW classrooms.

  • With regard to the Six Traits of Writing elements (ideas, organization, sentence fluency, word choice, voice, and conventions), ask:

    • in which areas did my students improve?

    • in which areas did my students show the most growth?

    • in which areas do my students need improvement?


3. Look ahead to Year Two.

It can take three or more years for teachers to internalize the Structure and Style process. Over time and with support, as the process becomes more natural, teachers think of themselves as capable instructors. With this in mind, here are some things to aim for in Year Two:

  • Begin to use a variety of source texts, including other content area materials (from social studies, science, or other content areas) to “write across the curriculum.”

  • Differentiate expectations and checklists to meet the needs of stronger writers and those who struggle (English Learners and those with learning differences) or those who will be new to the process (new students).

  • Raise expectations for stylistic techniques to develop better (less awkward, more academic) choices and model those techniques explicitly in class.

  • Introduce and model Advanced Stylistic Techniques and Decorations as appropriate to your students’ grade level and experience.

Did you know that IEW has Implementation Coaches who can visit your school to observe lessons and provide individualized coaching for teachers? They can coach you on the basics of Structure and Style in Year One or help you expand and improve your skills in Years Two, Three, and beyond.

4. Set some realistic goals for next year.

  • Let the first goal be to not be too hard on yourself. Again, progress, not perfection, is the goal.

  • Consider the improvements that you saw in your review of student work. This should be encouraging!

  • Build on your strengths. Choose three things that went well this year to repeat and refine next year.

  • Don’t make a long list of areas you want to improve. Remember to apply the Easy Plus One Rule (EZ + 1) to yourself just as you do to your students.

    • Choose one thing to improve, such as teaching writing across the curriculum by teaching a Unit 2 lesson with a paragraph from a social studies or science textbook during the first weeks of school.

    • Continue to use source texts from your curriculum as you move from unit to unit until it becomes natural and easy for you and for your students.

    • Select a new area to improve and practice until that becomes easy.

    • As the year continues, repeat this process by adding one new improvement goal as the previous one becomes a habit.

  • If you need advice or help setting priorities, contact your Educational Consultant. If you don’t know who that is, contact the IEW office and we’ll connect you.

Taking time to reflect on your teaching practices and intentionally and systematically working to improve those practices is the key to meeting your students’ needs as they become confident and competent writers. The Institute for Excellence in Writing has developed methods and materials to train and support teachers in the Structure and Style method. The Schools Division team is here to assist you through providing information, coaching, and support every step of the way. For more information, visit, email, or call 800.856.5815 option 4.


IEW is a registered trademark of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, L.L.C.

Structure and Style is a trademark of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, L.L.C.


Jean brings 34 years of classroom experience to IEW, having taught grades 1–6 in New York, Virginia, and in California, where she taught sixth-grade language arts in the Rocklin Unified School District. She was introduced to IEW in 2001 when a colleague shared Student Writing Intensive videos at weekly school staff meetings. As a result of student progress and teacher enthusiasm at her school, RUSD brought Andrew Pudewa to Rocklin many times over the next several years to train district teachers, resulting in improved student writing and test scores district-wide. Named Rocklin’s “Elementary Teacher of the Year” in 2001, Jean was also included in the 2004 and 2005 editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

Live Chat with IEW