Archive

Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

IEW Seminars coming to Chicago

July 7th, 2011
Institute for Excellence in Writing
Institute for Excellence in Writing Presents
Two Days of Writing Seminars with Andrew Pudewa
Chicago, IL area – August 3-4, 2011

Please forward this message to friends and colleagues!

Location:
Judson University
1151 North State Street
Elgin, IL 60123

Wednesday, August 3 – Student Workshops
Thursday, August 4 – High School Essay Intensive
Friday-Saturday, August 5-6 – Chicago Homeschool Expo (CHE), Andrew Pudewa, Featured Speaker
(Descriptions Follow)

To register or for more information about these events, go to www.excellenceinwriting.com/IL2011 or call 800-856-5815.

Contact us:
Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)
8799 N. 387 Rd.
Locust Grove, OK 74352
800.856.5815
info@excellenceinwriting.com

A day of workshops for students Grades 3–10, new to the IEW writing program.
  • Introductory Workshop*: Grades 3–5: 8:30 AM–10:15 AM
  • Introductory Workshop*: Grades 6–8: 10:30 AM–12:15 PM
  • Advanced Workshop: Story Writing – Grades 3–8: 12:30 PM–2:45 PM (Full)
  • Advanced Workshop: Research Papers – Grades 5–10: 3:00 PM–5:15 PM (Full)
Cost: $20.00 per student per workshop. Teachers & Parents may observe at no cost.

The Introductory Student Workshops are enjoyable, informative and motivating for the children who attend, but they are also meant to serve as demonstration classes. Parents are encouraged to remain in the room, observing and participating with their child. Please make arrangements for the care of non-enrolled siblings. Please register early as theseworkshops fill fast. Sorry, no enrollment accepted at the door for Student Workshops.

August 4: High School Essay Intensive

8:30 AM-3:30 PM
Get immediate experience and inside tips on how to do your best on the SAT or ACT essay. Also includes strategies for composing the college application personal essay.

Cost: $50.00/participant (accompanying adult, $25.00)

August 5-6: Chicago Homeschool Expo (CHE)

Andrew Pudewa will be a speaker!
His sessions include:

  • Teaching Boys & Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day (August 5)
  • Teaching and Evaluating Writing (August 5)
  • The Profound Influence of Music on Life (August 5)
  • Reaching the Reluctant Writer (August 6)
  • The Four Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing (August 6)
We will also have a booth, so please stop by.
More information here: www.excellenceinwriting.com/CHE-2011

TOS Crew Review — Wordy Querty

May 20th, 2011

Photobucket

Spelling – You either got it or you don’t.

As a fairly good speller, I still cringe over mistakes that I find in my own writing, and I’m sure others find ones that I have missed. Spelling is an area in which we never finish learning, and one that you can never start learning too young. My young readers have their basic phonics rules down, so this was the natural next step.

Wordy Querty will help your child learn and apply these 20 spelling rules:

  1. Silent E
  2. Sounds of C
  3. Sounds of G
  4. J or DGE
  5. W or WH
  6. C or K
  7. CK or K
  8. CKS or X
  9. CH or TCH
  10. LL, SS, FF, ZZ
  11. OI or OY
  12. VE Words
  13. Open Syllables
  14. Double Consonants
  15. Doubling rule
  16. ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR
  17. I Before E
  18. Plurals: Add ES
  19. Plurals: Y to IES
  20. Plurals: F to VES

Product: Wordy Querty

Details: We used the online version, but it is available on CD as well. This is a program to help build on basic phonics and begin to help children build their typing skills and their spelling skills. It works through a series of 20 spelling rules and kids follow six steps to learn the rules and when to apply them. They work on the patterns of the spelling rule, sing along with their hosts as they learn the rule put to music, toss out incorrectly spelled words, click on correctly spelled words to complete sentences, and write and read stories. Each of these steps helps to teach and solidify correct spelling habits. Designed for kids 7-9 years old.

Price: $35 for the CD

What we loved . . .

  • Teaches spelling without boredom. The games are fun, the songs are cute, the graphics are great, the teaching is clear. Kids naturally want to keep playing this program. The learning happens almost without them realizing. My son begged and begged to play this game. He would race through other school work, chores, and other responsibilities so he could get back on the computer and play more Wordy Querty. He cheered as it loaded. This is an incredibly fun way to learn.
  • Independent. Kids can fairly easily work this program on their own. It walks them through everything they need to do and teaches them the rules.
  • Great for beginning readers. Although the age is 7-9 my 5 year old could easily start this program as well. As long as your child has a solid start to reading they will likely benefit from this program. They might need to move a little more slowly if their reading is still developing, but the program worked well for my young readers as well.
  • Lots of repetition in different formats. The words will come at the student time and again in different angles, games, lists, and stories so the kids can really cement the new rule and words that they are learning.
  • Can go back and redo tough lessons. They automatically have to go back one time, but after that they can continue to return voluntarily (or under parent’s orders . . .) to better the score. The program simply saves the new test score in place of the old one.
  • Parent login gives information on student progress. The chart shows how well the kids are doing at the various levels. This helps you see at a glance which lesson the student is struggling with and succeeding in.

Some considerations . . .

  • Kids can learn to play the system. My son realized that if he got words wrong the program didn’t care it just kept passing him along (after one do-over). So, after the games were over and he was on the test for each level he just pressed enter or space and flew through the list without really typing any of the words. I didn’t realize that this was possible, I was just thrilled that he got through all 20 levels in 2 days. What a bright little guy I have! Uh, yeah. Well, when I was reviewing his scores I saw that he was getting 0% on each of the levels after the first 4. So, now he is back redoing it the right way with me keeping a closer tab on his progress.
  • Learning through trial and error. It seems to work, but it pulls a lot of words and as the kids are learning it they are really just guessing what is right and what is wrong. They click on random words or columns and sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong. They do begin to see the patterns and begin to get more right, but I think most of the rules will need more than a once through the lesson to really grasp and most kids want to just fly through it and have fun.
  • Difficulty of spelling words doesn’t necessarily progress throughout levels. Because they are going according to a list of spelling rules some of the words in later lists are very easy while some in earlier lists were rather challenging.

Wordy Querty builds beautifully on what Talking Fingers started. My 5 and 7 year olds absolutely love both programs and beg to play them. They have learned so much in the process in the midst of the play. These are great programs to help kids get a secure footing in typing, reading, and now spelling as well.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Wordy Querty as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.



Tweet

TOS Crew Review — IEW

May 13th, 2011

Another day of middle school writing assignments. Another day of frustration, long hours at the desk, and very little accomplished. And, unfortunately this was not a new struggle. We had battled over writing on and off since he first held a pencil.

Sound familiar? My oldest child has really struggled with putting pen to paper. He is the math and science guy. He can pull apart an engine, put it back together and tell you how it works. But ask him to write down more than a paragraph, especially one that involves creative thought and you will think you just asked a snail to fly you to the moon.

Enter IEW. It gives concrete, practical tools for writing and writing well. My husband was home one day when they were watching their lesson for the day and he said, “I wish someone had told me how to write a story like that. That’s easy!” That sums it up pretty well. Andrew Pudewa takes what is nearly impossible for so many students, what is a source of major frustration and energy drain to teachers and students alike, and makes it easy.

Photobucket

Product: Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Teaching writing/student writing intensive combo pack level C

Details: A combo pack that brings information for both parent and student. The two components can be purchased separately as well and include the 10 hour teaching writing workshop (Andrew Pudewa in front of an audience of parents) for the teacher and the student program (Mr. Pudewa teaching a writing workshop for high school students) designed for use over 15 to 30 weeks depending on how much time you put into it each week.

Price: $239 for the whole combo pack

Because there are two distinct components to this combo pack I will separate my review of these items. I don’t want the value of either of these parts to get lost in a lengthy list of pros and cons. To start with, I want to share my thoughts on the level C teaching writing intensive for students.

What we loved . . .

  • Great for the non-writer and the non-writing teacher or non writing-teacher. I love to write. It’s part of the reason that I got into blogging. Taking fingers to the keyboard is a natural outlet for who I am. Unfortunately, most of my children do not take after me in this way and they really needed a teacher that understood and didn’t just keep telling them to write something — or else. They really enjoyed watching the videos, my daughter even said she had a new favorite teacher (I tried not to be hurt by that, as she assured me she was just expressing how much she enjoyed the videos. Um, okay). We really needed a fresh face to lighten the mood surrounding writing.
  • Good for older students, but still a little flexibility in the age. IEW encourages you to pick a level based on your student’s age, not on their writing ability. Older kids, even beginning writers, can progress more quickly and handle reading passages with more difficult wording. The exercises in each level are designed with a certain age grouping in mind. Level C is geared specifically toward high schoolers. I did use this for my son (entering high school) and my daughter (entering 7th grade). They were both able to work at the level required. It was a challenge for them, but a good one. They both have strong reading and vocabulary skills, just not great writing skills. I have really seen them grow through the specific methods they now have in their tool belt for writing assignments.
  • Witty teacher. Andrew Pudewa has a dynamic teaching style. I found myself watching along just because it was an enjoyable lecture. He interacts naturally with the kids in the video’s classroom, and teaches with professionalism, a sense of humor, and a thorough understanding of his subject and writing method.
  • A full year curriculum. They say you can use this for 30 weeks or go up to twice as fast and finish in 15 weeks. I can easily see this taking a good chunk of next year to finish as well as we have just used it about half of this school year. There are plenty of supplementary exercises if you want to go slower and activities that you can easily skip if your child is picking up the steps more quickly. I know IEW is often taught in co-ops around here, but I really like the flexibility of doing this at home where they can work at their own pace and go more quickly through some weekly lessons and take their time to fully master others.
  • Gives kids concrete steps. Without stifling their individuality, IEW gives the student specific steps to take to complete a writing assignment. These steps will look different depending on the type of writing, but with this teaching they can write and follow the rules and know they will come out with a great product. My son likes things concrete, specific, clear expectations, obvious write and wrong in an assignment. IEW makes writing a more concrete subject for students like him, and he thrives under it. My daughter likes the freedom of writing, but never knew how to get started. IEW has helped her to get that boost to get the assignment started and then her writing ability takes over from there. IEW has helped them both in their own unique ways and helped them both to become better writers.
  • You can do it! Even if you are not a writing teacher you can easily use this curriculum at home. You buy the level, you can make copies of the notebook pages for each of your kids, and let the video do the teaching once a week, roughly, and you follow up the rest of the week. They break it down into very manageable size lessons that fit easily into our full homeschooling days. I was very pleased with the schedule that they set up for us to follow. Of course we did tweak it here and there, but it gave us a mostly useable starting point.
  • Covers all areas of writing. We still have some of the curriculum yet to finish, and when we are done my kids will be very comfortable with writing in many forms — lecture note taking, summarizing, research papers, essays, creative writing, and taking notes from references. They need to be able to do way more than write a story or narrate a lesson back to me. Writing will be one of the first impressions that they give to people throughout life and I definitely want them to be comfortable with it so they can present themselves well.

Some considerations . . .

  • Video doesn’t have clear breaks. I don’ t know why this bothers me so much, it is really a little thing. But, I just wish that the videos stopped or had a break when a lesson was done. When I first watched I had not paid enough attention to the timing and kept watching for almost three hours because I thought the end should be coming soon. Well, it had come and gone and come and gone and come and gone. After learning my lesson I would write down on a little sticky note what time the DVD player should say when we were done for the day. My kids did enjoy the reading lesson, but they don’t want to do more school than necessary on any given day, so they made sure it stopped where it was supposed to after that.
  • Still requires writing. To learn to write, they will need to write. My son definitely did less groaning with IEW than with other programs or assignments we had tried.  However, he it is not a magic pill that made him love writing. It did, however, enable him to do it. Now I can give him a writing assignment or tell him to write a summary of what we learned and he doesn’t first spend a half hour staring at a blank sheet of paper. Now he has the assignment done and turned in by then. That is a step in the right direction.

And, then about the teaching conference on DVD:

What we loved . . .

  • Comprehensive workshop for teacher/parent. Even though I am comfortable writing and teaching writing, IEW has a little bit of a different approach to writing and in order to best teach the approach to my kids and supervise their learning of it, I needed a little extra instruction as well.These videos helped me have a more thorough understanding of the what and why behind their methodology. This really helped build my enthusiasm for the program and I think that then rubbed off on my kids as they started into their own video series. I could tell them without hesitation that they would enjoy Mr. Pudewa’s teaching style and I was right on.
  • Can be watched a little at a time. I rarely have 10 spare hours at one time, probably not even in one month could I muster that kind of extra time. So, these videos can be watched a little at a time as your kids progress through the material themselves. If you have a chunk of time over the summer to watch them in a couple sittings that works as well, or you can choose to watch it in segments that apply to the lesson the kids are learning as well.
  • Suggested schedule. If you do want to use this all at once as a workshop (invite other moms over, too, and they can even order their own notebook to go along with it!), they give you a suggested schedule and some tips on making the most of it. I did watch some of this with a friend that was also getting started in it and it was a great motivator to walk the path with another real live person while we enjoyed the DVD presentation as well.
  • Anticipates questions and prepares you well. Obviously, no one knows that program like the creator. Sitting under the teaching of the person who put it all together was priceless. He knows why it includes certain components. He knows how to best utilize the resources included in each pack. He knows how to schedule the material into your homeschooling experience. He answered my questions and more and helped me feel confident and comfortable about teaching my kids at home using IEW.

Some considerations . . .

  • Video doesn’t have clear breaks. Again, this is the same as the kids’ videos, so I won’t repeat myself, but I found it distracting to have to watch the counter rather than being free to focus on the speaker as a session got close to an end.
  • Need to focus. It is really best to watch this without distraction. This was not a DVD that I could put on in the background while I cooked dinner or played a board game on the floor with the kids. I had to be sitting, facing the TV, notebook in hand, listening and taking notes to really absorb it. The material is practical and specific and you won’t want to miss it. Be sure to set aside a time when you can really listen and make the most of this great resource.

After having tried this program and having it so willingly received by my kids I am excited to check out more of their products. They have writing courses geared toward specific time periods in history (they run just $29 for the student book), and continuation courses for those ready to build on what they have learned in these courses (these can take up to two years to complete). I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of Mr. Pudewa in our living room.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through IEW as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.



Tweet

Writing Resources and more

April 19th, 2011

Company Name - Company Message

You can expect to hear more from me about this site that author Jan May recently emailed me about.

I have girls, three of them to be exact. As much as I love my boys, I feel an extra dose of responsibility to raise my girls and prepare them for adulthood. I’m the mom they will try to emulate (or sometimes not). I’m the 24/7 example of a wife for them to see. I feel the weight of this on a daily basis. And, as they will attest, I am constantly seeking out new resources to help me in this job.

This newly discovered site won’t necessarily help them as future wives and moms, but it does have a heart for nurturing godly growth in girls in the 8-12 age range. If you have girls that fall around those ages, I would encourage you to take a look as well.

The site — “Wonderful website for creative writing resources.
Free creative pages, crafts, recipes for girls ages 8-12. Homeschool
links for writing contests and helps. Creative Writing Curriculum that
guides the student to create a character while creating her as a paper
doll.”

Enjoy this site which promises resources targeting boys in the near future —  NewMillenniumGirlBooks.com

Chicagoland Homeschool Expo

April 18th, 2011

In August the Chicagoland Homeschool Expo will return to the area.The following information is taken from their website and includes links to their site for further information:

2011 Chicago Homeschool Expo

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER $20 per person

$25 for Husband & Wife

Chicago Homeschool Expo August 5-6, 2011

Schaumburg Convention Center (Chicago), IL

1551 N. Thoreau Dr, Schaumburg, IL 60173

Chicago Homeschool Expo Registration
Includes Homeschooling for Excellence 101, Worldview Teen Tract AND KidsZone
August 4-6, 2011

At the door registration is also available at the door the day of the Conference.  Payment accepted at the door includes cash or checks only.

REFUND POLICY – There are no refunds, just as there are no refunds for tickets to events such as concerts, sporting events, etc.


College Fair admission is FREE with ALL ticket purchases including Homeschooling 101, KidsZone, Worldview Teen Track, and Chicago Homeschool Expo.

Writing mini-workshop

September 3rd, 2010

Last year I met Sarah through the writing of Jim Baumgardner and now he is helping others in their endeavor to write well or teach their children to write well. This is the third and final installment of the series ‘Fundamentals of Story Writing” by Jim Baumgardner of the Sarah Books Series, hosted over at Creative Learners.

Mr. Baumgardner, an award winning author, has shared with us over the last 2 months free lessons in story writing for our homeschool students of any age!  Thess articles have blessed my family, and many more! You can see the original articles by clicking here for #1 and here for #2.

For today’s third and final installment in the series, check out Creative Learners.

Writing programs

June 29th, 2010

There are many great programs to help develop your child’s writing skills.

You may have heard of or used Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), or Writing Strands, or Write Shop, or a number of other programs.

I also recently came across this website that shares lots of great writing tips, In Our Write Minds. (written by a Write Shop author)

Last year I had the privilege of reviewing a well-written book called Sarah’s Wish. The author, Jim Baumgardner, has started writing a short series of posts to help parents help kids write.

Since writing is an area we plan to spend some time on we enjoyed reading the first post for our group Composition time today. He focuses on how to come up with ideas for your writing projects and his ideas really helped the wheels start turning in our house.

Check out his full post at Creative Learners, and be inspired!