Our family was first introduced to IEW when my oldest daughter took a co-op class using the Student Writing Intensive. Since then, we have used the Student Writing Intensive at home, as well as U.S. History Based Writing Lessons (we are currently using this), and All Things Fun and Fascinating. Since we have used and enjoyed these materials, my 11th grade daughter was really excited to hear about the High School Essay Intensive. And that shows you just what an impact IEW and Andrew Pudewa have made on her.
“I grew up in mortal fear of the dangling participle.” -Andrew Pudewa
Excellent writing is so important for everyone. The ability to communicate powerfully with the written word can give any person a distinct advantage in almost every area of life, and give them the ability to have a huge impact on the world.
I think the number one attraction to the IEW materials is Andrew Pudewa, the founder of the company as well as the presenter of the DVD classes. He is so personable and fun. My kids enjoy watching the videos, and even the younger kids (who are not taking the course) will sit down and watch. Bonus!
The selling point for parents: the incredible results in their child’s writing. I have seen it in my three oldest kids. The IEW methods are so amazing. I definitely plan to continue using many IEW resources for my youngest two children.
High School Essay Intensive – What is it?
“This DVD course with accompanying handouts provides immediate experience and inside tips toward high school essay writing, including text analysis, response-to-literature prompts, and the college application personal essay, with content updated in 2016 for SAT®, ACT®, and techniques for writing a college application.”
The program consists of
- 5 DVDs containing 6.5 hours of class instruction
- Student Handouts – 25 pages for assignment and note-taking
- Portable Walls for the Essayist
Portable Walls for the Essayist is basically a durable tri-fold that contains handy checklists of all of the important lists and techniques discussed (and used) in the class. This is also available for separate purchase if you need extra copies.
How We Use It
This is such a flexible program. You could use the entire program to prepare for writing essays in general with a focus on ACT and SAT essay preparation. Or you can just use the general essay portion, depending on your student’s needs. We chose to do Part 1 — the general essay portion. I found it to be so helpful for many writing situations. My daughter agreed. She has been assigned essays in our homeschool co-op, so she’s aware of the great need to be able to write an essay well.
My daughter and I watched the videos together, while she took notes on the Student Handouts. Mr. Pudewa makes liberal use of his whiteboard. In homeschooling, there can be those students not used to taking notes in a class setting, so this is a valuable addition to the program. We spent about 30 minutes per day, a couple of days per week on this section.
So far, we have completed part 1: General Strategies for Essay Writing. Here’s what’s included:
Part 1A: General Strategies for Essay Writing: Length and Structure
- Initial Exercise
- A Hurt and Rescue Operation
- What is an essay?
- Two Questions Writers Need to Ask
- Translating Assignment Length to Paragraphs
- Types of Paragraph
- The TRIAC Paragraph Model
- Essay Models
Part 1B: General Strategies for Essay Writing: Invention and Style
- Canons of Rhetoric
- Practicing Common Topics of Invention
- Practice with TRIAC Outline
- Sentence Patterns
- Literary Devices: Schemes and Tropes
- Practice with Sentence Openers and Figures of Speech
We Love It – Here’s Why
This (and every IEW program) is not just filled with instruction. It includes tidbits of encouragement in advanced learning, such as the suggestion that memorizing the famous speeches of great speakers gives a student an enormous vocabulary, and an inventory of ideas to write about.
“The absolute worst way to build your vocabulary: workbooks. If you really want to expand your vocabulary, it is through an act of your own will, and this mostly happens through reading.” – Andrew Pudewa
There are many little gold nuggets like this one sprinkled throughout the videos. I really encourage parents to watch (or at least listen) to the videos with their students.
- Students start the program by writing a short essay on the first day, and this essay is revisited in later sections for illustration. They will compare their original essay to the lessons learned in later sections.
- In the General Essay section, students are given a handy way to decide how to approach their assigned essay, and to figure the length in paragraphs. The different types of paragraphs are explained and illustrated, as well as the different types of essays.
- The invention section is a gem! How many kids are asked to compose an essay without much warning and suddenly go blank? Mr. Pudewa gives students a handy list to memorize for the thinking process when given an assignment for essay writing.
- Style is discussed here, in a condensed version for those who have not taken any of the main IEW writing intensive courses.
- Sentence patterns are illustrated, and then the student is asked to look at the patterns used in their original essay. Its very eye-opening!
- Literary devices are then analyzed, with many illustrations from literature and famous speeches.
- Finally, the student practices what they’ve learned!
Whether a student is tasked with writing a short, basic essay or a long “Super-Essay,” this course will arm them with the tools to jump in to that essay with confidence. And I’m pretty sure the results will be quite impressive.
We have only completed the General Essay portion of this curriculum, so I cannot review the SAT/ACT Essay portion yet. However, knowing the incredible results that come from all IEW courses, I know for certain that students will be more than prepared to knock out a stellar essay on the spot as they prepare for the SAT and ACT.
One more thing (and this is minor), but I really like the leather-like disc case in this program. It’s not the standard multi-disc DVD holder with plastic prongs that never quite hold the multiple discs; you know the ones that slide around inside the case and you wonder if they are getting scratched? Yeah, that’s not how this one is. Bonus!
As I said earlier, excellent writing is a skill that serves everyone well. I highly recommend the High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing. The course is $79, and includes the DVDs, handouts, and portable walls. There is also a link (included in the DVD case) to stream the video courses if desired.
While you’re at the IEW website, check out the Resources link for lots of free helps, audios, and downloads. I love listening to Andrew Pudewa’s workshops. And if you follow IEW on social media, you’ll get some great printables as well as notice of regular Facebook parties (with giveaways!).
Now, go check out the main Review Crew post, where you can read all 60 reviews of the High School Essay Intensive:
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.