Answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions.
You can order a replacement disc by calling us toll-free at 800.856.5815. Just let us know which disc you need and where you originally purchased it, and we will send you a replacement for a $15 fee.
You can find the copyright policy for each of our products as a link on the specific product page. For example, to view the copyright for Structure and Style for Students: Year 1 Level A, go to the product page and click on the "Details" tab.
Yes! You do! The Theme-Based Writing Lessons are meant to be supplemental—an aid to the teacher. They presume that the instructor has been through the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style course. A book can't teach writing to a child without teacher support. After you learn our system these books will be able to serve as a support to you in teaching your child to write.
The levels for SSS are arranged by reading level and experience. You may need to purchase more than one level depending on each of your students’ points of need. Here is how you can decide:
4th–5th Grade Reading Level: Select Year 1 Level A
6th–8th Grade Reading Level: Select Year 1 Level B
9th–12th Grade Reading Level: Select Year 1 Level C
The primary goal of the Institute for Excellence in Writing is teacher training. We offer lessons and video courses for the student to make the job of the teacher as easy as possible, but it is important for teachers to gain the training necessary to help their children write well.
Writing is an art and requires a give and take between student and teacher. The teacher’s course equips you to provide that for your student. If you only have the student videos, your student will learn a good deal, but will only get the answers to whatever questions were asked when the course was originally recorded. If your student has any difficulty, you may find it challenging to provide him the unique help he needs. The teacher’s course provides all the hows and whys behind the program so that you too can become an accomplished writing teacher over time.
One experienced homeschool mother explains, "I homeschool eight children, so I can appreciate how precious time is, but trying to teach writing without taking the time to watch my teacher’s videos was like pushing the car down the highway because I didn’t have time to stop for gas. :)
You don’t have to watch the entire teacher’s course in one sitting. Just watch a video a month or so and you will do just fine.
As Andrew Pudewa has said, our materials are like ice cream—the more the better! But be sure the first serving is for the teacher.
The PAL: Reading will require about 30 minutes of your time each day you do it, and another 30-60 minutes of your student’s time to do his things with some, but not always significant, supervision.
The PAL: Writing will take about 30 minutes of your day. It also includes a brief discussion of a story every day. You can use any story you are reading to your child, so it works with anything you are already doing. As with most programs, your first week or two will likely require more time, but as you get it running, it does not take much time to maintain. Using the PAL: Reading, your child will likely be reading after just a few months. At that point, less time will need to be spent on the Reading, so you can spend a little more time on the PAL: Writing Composition section when you get to it. However, it won’t really cost you any more time in the long run.
All the individual letters are introduced in the PAL: Writing program using letter stories as the student learns to print. Even if your student is too young to do much printing (age 3–4), you should still get the Writing package and do the printing lessons. He should just do his writing on a whiteboard (a lap sized one should work well). He won't start the copy work until his fine motor skills develop further, so the parent will then just shelve the Writing part until he is older. He can continue to practice his letters on the whiteboard. When he is old enough to manage a pen or pencil (usually around age 5), then he can pick up where he left off.
IMPORTANT: A child should not try to print on lines using a regular pencil until he has developed enough fine motor control. If you try to do it too early, the child ends up using goofy pen grips because his hand is not strong enough to use a mature pen grip. Thus, it is very important to be patient and WAIT until your child is old enough before working on handwriting.
You will generally begin the Primary Arts of Language program when your student is around age 5 or 6, but it may be used with reading-ready 3 and 4 year olds, as well as older students who need some remedial help.
If you have an advanced 3 or 4 year old who is eager to learn to read, you can begin with PAL: Reading, along with Part 1 of PAL: Writing. You won’t want your student to start printing on lines using a regular pencil until he has developed enough fine motor control, usually around age 5. (If you try to start this too early, the child often ends up developing a goofy pencil grip because his hand is not strong enough to use a mature pencil grip.) So a younger student can practice writing his letters on a whiteboard. Since he won't continue with Part 2 of PAL: Writing until his fine motor skills develop further, you can set it aside and keep working through PAL: Reading until he is older and ready to move in to copy work.
The program isn't too cutesy, so it is an excellent resource if you have an older student who needs some gentle remedial help. And if you are already using it with a younger child, older siblings can easily join in as your "helpers," playing the reading games with their younger sibling and sitting in on the lessons as needed.
No matter what your child's age when you begin, the Teacher’s Manuals will give recommendations for how to adjust the program to meet your unique child’s needs.
Yes! Two parents respond to this question below. The first teaches a student with Aspergers (on the autistic scale) and the second has a son who is dyslexic.
"IEW is fantastic for those with expressive disorders. A dear friend of mine has a son with Aspergers. This year, I offered to teach him writing. His mom returned immediately with, 'Oh, he can't write.' I asked for a chance.
"We just started the Student Writing Intensive B. He flew through the first disc, outlined and wrote beautifully. I think he will find the help he needs with this program. I am so happy for him!"
"My ten year old is dyslexic. Written expression has been a chore for him from day 1. Since we started with IEW two years ago, the lights have come on, and slowly but surely he's become a writer. The logical progression, the straightforward steps and checklists, and the knowledge that he can't 'do it wrong' (there are simply ways that he can 'do it better') have been incredible confidence builders for him.
"IEW has helped him get through the blocks that have always made written communication so difficult for him. Two years ago, he threw a literal screaming fit if I asked him to write his name on his paper...now, he journals a page a day and thinks nothing of writing a paper a week.
"IEW is so customizable (yet makes so much sense to the kids) that it works very, very well for kids that just don't 'get it' otherwise."
I remember when I was at a homeschool conference looking at some other writing materials and a very nice Mom poked her head over my shoulder and pointed me to IEW. I glanced at it then, but like you, thought it looked overwhelming.
A year later, I decided to give it a try and I absolutely wish I had done it so much sooner. IEW is not difficult to use or teach, in fact, it's easier and clearer than most of what's out there. The "thought" of it is what can be overwhelming, but the program itself is not complicated. Once you get it, begin using it and learn how to teach writing using IEW - you'll wish you started sooner. Plus, you have this great group for support if you ever have questions!!
I looked at the website yearly for about 4 years before I finally bought it. Each time I looked at the website I thought, "I can't do this. It looks too hard. It's $269 and I won't be able to do it” Fast forward to the next year and I said the same thing.
Finally this year I decided that all the people I admire that recommend it must have a REASON for liking it so much so I bit the bullet.
Between what is in the plans and the help on the forum, you won't have to put much effort into lesson planning especially if you have a curriculum you already use. Your son will learn the techniques and then apply them to his regular assignments.
I'm currently working through the student videos with my two oldest. I'm going at our own pace (slower than 1 disc/day MUCH faster than the 15 week lesson plan). And I'm NOT a good lesson planner. I'm happy when I'm convinced they 'get' a topic like the KWO or the dress-ups.
This is NOT hard to teach. It really isn't. If you flip through the tezcher's manual without watching the videos it can look confusing and overwhelming. Once you listen to Andrew explain everything it all makes sense.
Last night, dd (13) thanked me for getting IEW. It is making writing 'fun and much easier' for her. My ds (11) feels the same way. He never put pen to paper before. Now he is doing it, enjoying it and showing a creative side that he never has.
Teaching the Classics is a video seminar that will teach you, as the parent or teacher, the basics of literary analysis (character, setting, plot, conflict, theme), which you can then apply to any piece of literature you study with your students. It is suitable for teaching students of any age. The teacher workbook includes suggested reading and provides a list of Socratic questions that you can choose from in your study of literature.
Windows to the World is appropriate for high school and advanced middle school students (due to the stories used for analysis). In addition to the basics (character, plot, etc.), students will also become familiar with such literary elements as imagery, symbolism, parallelism, allusions, and much more, while learning how to annotate a piece of literature. The lesson plans are clearly laid out, with specific information for the student as well as the teacher. You can intersperse longer novels if you wish, or use the course as is, since it is self-contained.
Both products are suitable for use by teachers who are not familiar with literary analysis. If you would like to talk with Excellence in Writing teachers who have used these programs, join our forum.
Yes! We mostly present our seminars in areas where a school or homeschool group has offered to help with location, promotion, etc. Expenses and fees vary, depending on the number of people, types of classes, travel distance, etc., but generally, a group of 35 or more can cover the costs of a seminar comfortably. To inquire about hosting an event in your area, please contact us at events@IEW.com.
It's called "The Spelling Concerto" and was written by Dean Anderson.
The version on The Phonetic Zoo (PZ) was performed entirely with a keyboard and a Macintosh computer.
Listen to the full version here: The Spelling Concerto (Running time: 3 minutes)
The version on Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS2) was performed by Joel Walker (guitar) and Paige Stockley (cello).
The version on Structure and Style for Students (SSS) is a Spelling Concerto Variation recomposed and performed by Joel Walker (guitar), Durgan Maxey (piano), and Elisa Conklin (cello).
The version on Introduction to Public Speaking (IPS) is Paper Dreams (by Sounds Like Sander)
The version played before IEW Online Classes is Copland Hoe Down from Rodeo
Traditional grammar programs systematically teach concepts about grammar, punctuation, and usage with sentences artificially contrived to fit the rules. The theory behind such approaches is that after learning the rules, students will be able to apply them to their own writing. Often these programs teach more concepts than are need-to-know in terms of punctuation, correct grammar, or performance on the ACT or SAT, but they cover the rules well.
Diagramming is a method for helping students grasp the underlying structure of sentences, which is critical for punctuating sentences correctly but which seems to work with only about half the population. Most diagramming programs also teach more than is truly helpful to students learning grammar.
Fix It! Grammar emerged from a teacher's frustration with traditional approaches. Like many teachers, Pamela White (who earned her Master's Degree and A.B.D. in English from Vanderbilt University) recognized that students using traditional grammar programs may learn the rules well but seem to have a disconnect in applying them. The more that grammar is rooted in the writing experience, the better it sticks.
The ultimate goal of teaching grammar should be to train students to be able to edit their own writing effectively. When a side benefit is improved performance on the SAT or ACT, so much the better. Fix It! Grammar (third edition) is a complete grammar program for these goals that truly matter, but it teaches students in the context of writing and through editing rather than through exercises focusing on specific rules.
The early books in Fix It! Grammar begin with marking parts of speech and then identifying phrases (mainly prepositional phrases), main clauses, and dependent clauses. This is better than diagramming because it focuses on the structural parts of sentences that matter most and most affect punctuation rather than getting students bogged down in labeling the parts of sentences that rarely become punctuation hurdles.
Gradually, the Fix It! Grammar stories incorporate usage, grammar, and punctuation concepts, taught by asking students to correct the mistakes in passages and then discuss with their teacher the reasons for corrections.
Early stories have advanced concepts which can be used with stronger students and which pave the way for concepts in later stories.
The six books, each lasting a full year, contain some instruction at the start of each week's lesson as well as added instruction and tips to teachers to use as needed.
All six stories use natural sentences--rather than ones artificially contrived to fit an exercise--that closely mimic the kinds of errors in student writing, so students get repeated practice looking for errors in sentences (the same methods achievement tests use), along with the challenge of needing to explain the why's behind fixes. Since the sentences have the normal complexity of real writing, they also deal with the same issues any writer faces in editing his or her own work.
Response from author Janice Campbell:
The new edition has a new chapter on how to write an essay, plus a pacing chart (a birds-eye view of what to do in each module), and a clearer, more detailed table of contents. The E1 level has a few new resources, and as in every edition, I've worked to make everything clearer. All the links in each level have been checked and updated (most are the same).
If you already have the second edition, it is still useful, and you don't need to update unless you want to. Just remember that many of the context resources are being moved to our website at http://excellence-in-literature.com, so if you encounter a link that does not work, check there first. If it's not there, try searching via Google or other search engine. A few items completely disappeared due to the retirement of the professors who authored them, and in that case other resources were substituted.
Please get in touch with us to let us know what you are interested in. We mostly present our seminars in areas where a school or homeschool group has offered to help with location, promotion, etc. Expenses and fees vary, depending on the number of people, types of classes, travel distance, etc., but generally, a group of 35 or more can cover the costs of a seminar comfortably. To inquire about hosting an event in your area, please contact us at events@IEW.com.
Please contact us at events@IEW.com for information and scheduling.
Grade levels are approximate, as each child's ability level will vary, regardless of grade level. In general, however, the following levels apply (for all products except the Phonetic Zoo):
Note: If a student is significantly behind in reading ability, you may wish to choose a level that corresponds with reading level rather than grade level.
• The individual lessons have the added components of daily lesson plans and clearer weekly lesson goals.
• Source texts are either new or have been modified to include more regions of the world.
• The pacing of stylistic techniques has been adjusted so that students have success and enjoy the writing experience more.
• Advanced elements of Structure and Style have been placed in the Advanced Additions optional e-book, which is a free download with the purchase of the Student Book. This means that that the basic Student Book along with the Advanced Additions e-book is a perfect fit for all Level B students.
• Vocabulary words have been reevaluated to coincide with the dress-ups being taught in the lessons, making it easier for the students to use them in their lesson assignments.
• The lessons align with the updated version of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, both in the order and manner in which elements of Structure and Style are taught.
• The new edition is not compatible with the former.
• We've added to the title (since there is now a Volume 2). Instead of just Following Narnia, the title is now Following Narnia Volume 1: The Lion's Song.
• The Teacher’s Manual now includes student pages inset, such that a teacher would only need to buy the Teacher’s Manual, not both books.
• Lessons have been revamped, some with new source texts, and checklists have been updated.
• The new edition is not compatible with the old (due to the changes in multiple lessons).
Items purchased directly through IEW:
- Go to IEW website: IEW.com/Returns.
- Read through the return checklist found on that page.
- If your return is eligible, click the blue button that says “Return Request Form.”
- Fill out the short form and click “Submit.”
- Expect an email within 2-4 days with a prepaid return label.
- Print out this label and tape it to your package. The address will be on the label.
Once we receive your package, we will issue a full refund (including the amount you initially paid for shipping). Expect either a check in the mail, or for recently placed orders, a refund back to your card.
Items were purchased new through a reseller:
-Send return items to our company address:
8799 N. 387 Rd.
Locust Grove, OK 74352
-Include your name, address, phone number, where it was purchased, and whether you would like a refund or a credit toward an exchange.
Once we receive your return package, we will issue a refund for 60% of the original price for each item. Expect either a check in the mail, or for recently placed orders, a refund back to your card.
For items not purchased new directly from IEW or from one of our resellers, we are unable to offer any refund. To be eligible for our return policy, you must be the original purchaser making the return.
The new 2017 edition of the Teaching the Classics DVD seminar was re-filmed using high-quality video and audio. Additionally, the syllabus notebook was redesigned, revised, and expanded. The second edition now includes the following features:
Eight one-hour DVD sessions featuring 2+ hours of additional content:
• line-by-line explanations of each question on the Socratic List
• extended discussions of teaching philosophy and techniques
• additional tips for teachers on lesson planning and scope and sequence development
• a live “FAQ” discussion addressing common teacher questions
• live readings of classic stories with first edition illustrations by the original artists
A 120-page syllabus notebook featuring 25 pages of additional content:
• expanded discussion notes for each DVD session
• a reorganized Socratic List of discussion questions
• a revised bibliography of recommended books for students of all ages
• expanded lists of literary devices, terms, and definitions
• links to new supplemental resources designed for the Teaching the Classics method
In summary, Teaching the Classics, Second Edition (2017) presents the same tried and true method for reading and discussing literature that has been helping parents and teachers since 2004. Though the presentation has been significantly updated, seminar alumni investigating the new edition will find the essential techniques unchanged.
Each student will need access to the Narnia books as they will be directed to read one or more chapters with each lesson in the Following Narnia student book.