Institute for Excellence in Writing

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  • Reviewed on Thursday, August 30, 2012
  • Grades Used: 6th-7th - Medieval Theme book
  • Dates used: 2011-12 school year
I have 2 daughters who had very little writing experience prior to using IEW's Medieval theme-based program. I did not teach this program to them but instead they attended a co-op once a week and had 1 writing assignment to complete each week.

I cannot rave enough about this program! Their writing has improved immensely. I must say that I was concerned when they started the program because they'd had such little writing experience. Not only is the writing instruction wonderful but the vocabulary they learned was also a huge plus.

Once the class was over, I believed that their writing had improved a lot, but I didn't know how much until I got their Stanford test scores back after only using this program for 1 year. Both had scored above average the year before in this area. However, here are the results of the new scores: one of them improved 34 points in language expression taking her to a 98% and the other child improved 15 points moving her to 95%. I think that's proof enough. What else can I say?!

Since they've used this program under another teacher, I feel more confident about using it at home because they are familiar with it. We already have our IEW materials purchased to start using this school year. It is daunting, in my opinion, to try to begin teaching IEW from scratch but I believe it would be well worth it for anyone who is considering taking on the challenge.


  • Reviewed on Wednesday, January 25, 2012
  • Grades Used: Ancient History
  • Dates used: 2010-2011
We used this to tie in with our history.

At first, the book was great and we loved it. I couldn't believe that I had waited so long to find this product. we continued, I became frustrated.


The author asked us to read a story and take notes and then rewrite the story. It isn't often that a student will need to rewrite a story! AND - the author was expecting students to fill their own story with facts that he assumes the child to already know.

I like the idea of this program, but some of the exercises seemed silly to me.

Learning to taking notes from a text book...THAT was helpful.

There didn't seem to be much room for creativity.


  • Reviewed on Friday, April 3, 2009
  • Grades Used: 7th and 10th
  • Dates used: 2008-09
Others have done well describing the program and what it covers, so I won't do that here. I will say I really like the structure of the program and the way it teaches the student to find the key words/ideas in a piece of writing and how to rewrite without "copying" a piece of writing. This is essential for good essays, reports, and research paper writing. It also can be helpful with reading - being able to see the key concepts and main ideas in a piece of writing can greatly help in studying for tests in the future.

I have the TWSS seminar notebook and DVDs, and have used the Level C student intensive DVDs and notebook with my kids, ages 12-13 and 15. It looks very confusing UNTIL you watch the seminar DVDs and follow along in the notebook. I chose to use the student intensive because I knew I could not pull those lessons together to present to my kids with the quality he could do it, and frankly my daughter does not accept instruction from me very well. So using the DVD of him teaching to the student was invaluable. My kids don't like writing that much, but have done well with this and seem to understand pretty well what is expected. I've been pleased.

I think this program would be especially good for people who are not intuitively strong writers themselves, but want to have their kids receive a good writing foundation.


  • Reviewed on Saturday, May 10, 2008
  • Grades Used: 1st and 3rd
  • Dates used: 2007-2008
This is the only writing program I've seen to give you specific tools to improve writing. Most seem to take you through the process of writing (Idea generation, first draft, editing, publishing), but don't teach the tools. We were not at all successful with process writing programs.

IEW was very time consuming on the parent preparation and I'm not even sure how someone would use this program without the parent videos, some of which I had to watch two or three times. But Andrew Pudewa is a very engaging speaker, and I picked up new information each time I watched it, so I'm willing to deal with it. It took a lot of effort to get me up to speed, but I now I have powerful, specific tools to improve my children's writing (and my own).

The entire year, I fought the impulse to completely rewrite the whole program to make it more useable, when they came out with a much improved (although not perfect) lesson by lesson supplement. Make sure to get a copy of this because it will help. I found myself in a pattern, watch the parent DVD, work with my child and note any questions/stumbling blocks, re-watch the DVD, work with my child (almost always easier), then watch the tips DVD, do a third writing project.

My children are definitely on the young side for the program, but we kept it simple and at their reading level. I'm glad I introduced it now. The skills my kids gained will be so much easier to build upon next year when everything isn't new. I plan to use the Student DVD with my child for 4th grade.

Pros: Many! Effective, Specific instruction to improve writing. Skills can be applied to writing about the subjects we are studying, which makes it feel relevant and meaningful.

Cons: Labor intensive (but worth it), Parent manual could use a rewrite to make it more useable.

Overall, highly recommended! This is a keeper for next year!