Disclaimer: I received a
FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in
exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive
review nor was I compensated in any other way.
When one purchases a product from Institute for Excellence in Writing®, also known as IEW, you can be assured that you are buying a quality product that is the end result of research from educators to create a comprehensive Language Arts curriculum. Structure and Style for Students is no different. So when we were given the opportunity to review Structure and Style® for Students Year 1 Level B (grades 6-8), I knew going into the review that I would be receiving an amazing product and it did not disappoint.
Structure and Style for Students is a 24 week writing curriculum designed for Grades 6 through 8 that teach the original Structure and Style method but where the original Structure and Style material is taught to the instructor to teach their students, this option is designed directly for the student to use. Three levels are available – Level A for grades 3-5th, Level B for grades 6 through 8th, and Level C for high school level students. The curriculum composes of three components – The student binder that contains all the materials for the student to use the curriculum, the teacher’s manual and an online component that contains all the video lesson material for the student to use.
Each week of instruction is broken down into an easy to follow schedule. Students watch the video instruction taught my Mr Andrew Pudewa (videos are roughly an hour to an hour and a half long broken up to view over the course of two days). Through the lessons, students learn important writing techniques such as using a key word outline, stylistic techniques used for writing such as the use of –ly adverbs, who/which clauses, strong verbs and quality adjectives, learning to reduce/eliminate weak words such as “said”, “saw”, “thought” and “good/bad”, and using proper writing mechanics (capitalization, punctuation, and spelling).
Following the video lessons, students begin to work on their weekly writing assignment. Students are given a composition checklist to help keep them on track as they use a particular source reference to use. These source materials are from various types of material: Narrative stories, non-fiction references, pictures, and more. As students progress through the curriculum, they begin learning how to summarize multiple reference materials in their writing, and eventually move towards a more formal essay writing format.
Students use the source reference to first write their key word outlines. Once they complete the key word outline, they begin to rewrite the source material, using only their key word outline for reference. As they rewrite the source material, they must use the information that they have learned from the lessons to help write their paper. For example, each paragraph is required to have “dress ups” such as the –ly adverbs. As they learn the different dress ups in the lessons, each one must be included in each paragraph of their final paper. Their paper writing follows a fairly standard format of first a rough draft which is corrected to a final draft with their name and date in the upper corner, a title centered at the top of the paper and their paragraphs written/typed in double spaced format. At the end of the week, the student presents the teacher with a final packet of papers, neatly arranged with their materials together: weekly checklist on top, followed by their final draft, rough draft and key word outline. `
Students are able to keep all their notes as well as their work in the student binder. The binder is designed that helps with paper organization for ever stage of the writing process, including both coursework and compositions. As the student completes lessons, Mr Pudewa will tell the student where in the student binder the assignment should be placed.
Very little in terms of supplies are needed for the student to use Structure and Style for Students outside of what is included with the curriculum. Students will need loose leaf notebook paper for each assignment. All source text and handouts are included in the student binder (and can be copied for multiple students in the same family) as well as a pen (Mr Pudewa suggests students write in pen rather than pencil as they learn how to edit their papers without erasing. it is suggested that students also use Fix It! Grammar to provide a way to reiterate and apply the grammar rules they are learning.
How We Used It
Out of the gate, this curriculum quickly became a favorite of our family. The kids are already huge fans of Mr Pudewa and IEW products, so asking them to add another IEW product to our homeschool didn’t take much convincing. Mr Pudewa is such an engaging speaker and does a great job of engaging his audience. Getting the kids to sit down and watch roughly 45 minutes worth of videos twice a week proved to be no problem at all.
During the video lessons, the kids would be introduced to the topic for the week, such as sentence dress ups or grammar rules that they are expected to include in the weekly assignment. Many times they were also introduced to various adjectives that they are expected to begin to use in their own writing to help them take their writing to the next level. For the first couple of weeks, Mr Pudewa walked them through properly making and using a key word outline, however, after the first few weeks, they were expected to make their own key word outline from the source text without help.
I’ll be completely honest, I knew Ashleigh would do well with this curriculum. It was Garrett I was a bit worried about. Garrett hates writing. Hate would be a major understatement. Garrett often baulks when I ask him to write one sentence and I cannot tell you how many times he’s been reduced to tears when he has to write more than two sentences at a time. However, after showing Garrett how to use the word processing program on the computer, Garrett was quickly writing his own papers using his key word outline. His first few papers were fairly short and elementary in nature, but as time has gone on, I have noticed that he’s beginning to type out longer, more complicated sentences and is needing much less editing between his rough drafts and his final drafts. The additions of the “dress ups” have really helped him to expand his sentences beyond just a simple subject and predicate.
While I won’t get into a review of the Fix It! Grammar curriculum, we did opt to include it along with the Structure and Style curriculum. This particular grammar curriculum is one that we already use and working it in with this curriculum was simple, as it only takes a few extra minutes. Using the two together made the kids start paying more attention to how other writers use the various “dress ups” in their sentences, helping them to notice –ly adverbs and who/which clauses more than they had previously.
Overall, we’ve been extremely pleased using this as our writing curriculum for the kids. The video lessons help to allow me to do other things while allowing Mr Pudewa to take over my classroom for a bit and it’s helped to get Garrett to actually write, something I honestly did not think possible.
For more information about IEW’s Structure and Style for Students, be sure to visit the Institute for Excellence in Writing® website. You can also find more information about their products by visiting them on the following social media sites:
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