Institute for Excellence in Writing Curriculum Review

Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum review

If you’re thinking about trying the Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum in your homeschool, you’ll love this in-depth review! 

Shortly after I started homeschooling, I heard other moms raving about what great writers their kids were becoming, “thanks to IEW.”

I had no idea what “IEW” was back then, so I looked it up online and learned that “IEW” is an acronym for Institute for Excellence in Writing, a complete homeschool writing curriculum.

IEW has been a part of our homeschool for the past 5 years, and it really has been amazing at helping my kids to learn to write well.

Keep reading to learn more about why we love Institute for Excellence in Writing and get a full program overview.

Just a note: this review is NOT sponsored by IEW. I’ve purchased the curriculum myself with no compensation. All of the opinions expressed here are completely my own. 

{{Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that I may make a small commission if you click through or purchase at no cost to you. For more information, click here.}}

Overview of Institute for Excellence in Writing Homeschool Curriculum

The main curriculum offered by the Institute for Excellence in Writing is called Structure and Style for Students.

(In 2021, IEW moved away from their older curriculum called the Student Writing Intensive.)

According to their website, the main goal of IEW is:

Our mission is to equip teachers and teaching parents with methods and materials which will aid them in training their students to become confident and competent communicators and thinkers.

Using the four language arts—listening, speaking, reading, and writing—IEW methods have been proven to be effective for students of all ages and levels of ability.

Each Institute for Excellence in Writing course is taught by Mr. Andrew Pudewa, a former middle school history and writing teacher.

Not only is Mr. Pudewa a fantastic teacher, who presents information clearly and concisely, but his students also love his witty sense of humor.

Each Structure and Style for Students course includes access to streaming videos or DVDs that contain Mr. Pudewa’s 2-day writing seminar, broken down into 9 different units.

Students also receive a Structure and Style for Students binder in the mail, filled with all of the required source material for the curriculum.

Related post: Handwriting Without Tears Curriculum Review

IEW Levels

Structure and Style for Students is offered to all grades from elementary through high school, divided into the following levels:

  • Kindergarten-2nd Grade: Level Primary
  • 3rd-5th Grades: Level A
  • 6th-8th Grades: Level B
  • 9th-12th Grades: Level C

Each level has different courses of study within the level.

We didn’t do the Primary Level, but started with Level A when my kids were in 4th grade.

Structure and Style for Students begins with Level A. There is a full curriculum for Year 1 and Year 2.

homeschool mom friend

Level B of Structure and Style also offers a Year 1 and a Year 2 curriculum that builds upon the teachings from Level A.

We haven’t gotten to Level C yet, but when we do, I’ll be sure to update!

IEW Units

Each Structure and Style for Students curriculum consists of a 24-week course, divided between 9 different units.

To give you an idea of the different units, here’s a look at the 9 units in Level A, Year 2:

  1. Note Making and Outlines
  2. Writing from Notes
  3. Retelling Narrative Stories
  4. Summarizing a Reference
  5. Writing from Pictures
  6. Summarizing Multiple References
  7. Inventive Writing
  8. Formal Essay Models
  9. Formal Critique

Each IEW course begins by teaching students to write a Keyword Outline (KWO), which helps them learn to synthesize information and pick out the most important facts and details.

Once students understand how to write KWOs, they learn how to reuse this information in writing different types of paragraphs and essays.

childs learning style reading/writing

Additionally, IEW teaches students how to elevate their writing style by employing techniques such as using strong verbs and quality adjectives, prepositional openers, clausal openers, who/which clauses and more.

Students also keep a list of “banned words” to avoid in their writing. This really helps them to elevate their vocabulary in every paragraph that they write.

Pros about using IEW homeschool curriculum

We are big fans of the IEW program!

Here’s a few details about the biggest pros that we’ve experienced with the Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum:

1. Fun and engaging

Learn to write is no small matter. (And teaching writing can be daunting too!)

Having a course that is entertaining and fun really helps kids to feel more at ease with learning to write.

Each video features Mr. Pudewa cracking jokes as he teaches a classroom full of students. Seeing and hearing these students interact and learn has definitely helped my kids to feel more comfortable with learning to write.

life of fred middle school series

2. All resources provided

One of the great things about Institute for Excellence in Writing is that everything you’ll need for one year is included in a one-time buy.

They even send you a binder with labeled dividers that your kids will need throughout the year!

3. Low prep time 

As far as preparation goes, I’ve found IEW to be very low prep for the day-to-day.

There is a teacher training course called Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) that is very helpful for any homeschool mama who is reluctant to teach writing.

This highly recommended training course is a series of videos that acquaint you with the material your children will be learning.

According to the IEW website Frequently Asked Questions about TWSS, they write:

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.

4. Ease of Use

IEW has been very easy for my kids to use. Each week I give them the source materials they need for the week, they watch the videos, and then they get to work. B

Typically they have a completed paragraph (or essay as they get older) by the end of the week for us to review together.

5. Fun to see progress

One of the best things to do at the end of the school year is to look back at your students’ first KWO’s from the first couple of units.

You (and your students!) will probably be amazed at how much progress they’ve made.

And as a homeschool mom, what feeling is better than seeing your kids progress?!

6. Creates GREAT writers! 

Just as those homeschool moms were telling me years ago, I’ve also been very pleased to say that IEW has helped my kids to become great writers.

My oldest son, who is now a sophomore in high school, continually receives praise from his private school teachers about his writing ability.

Here’s a quick sample of my fifth grade daughter’s persuasive essay entitled, “How to Get a Puppy.”

“Almost everyone wants a dog. I mean, who wouldn’t? They are adorable, fluffy, loyal, soft, hilarious, and cuddly. But there is one big problem. Parents. Parents don’t want dogs because they are a lot of work, money, and time. As you keep reading, you’ll find three ways to convince your parents to buy a dog. First, do research. Second, raise money… Happily read the rest to know the simple steps broken down.”

Cons about using IEW

While I could sing praises for IEW all day long, there are a few cons that are worth mentioning:

1. Cost

There’s no way around it: IEW is fairly pricey compared to other writing curriculums out there.

At the time of this writing in 2022, the Structure and Style Basic course was available for $169. If you choose to included the Teaching Writing teacher training course, the combined cost for both is currently $289.

How to deal with the cost of IEW

While that may seem like a lot, it’s helpful to remember that this price will only be incurred for your first IEW student that takes that Level and Year.

Subsequent students will only need to buy the printed course materials, not the streaming videos (or DVDs). The printed materials cost only $35 per year at the time of this writing.

For example, if your 7th grader does Level B, Year 1, and your 5th grader does Level A, Year 1 you would pay for the full curriculum for both students.

But when your 5th grader is in 7th, you would only need to buy the printed materials at the greatly discounted cost.

Also, the last time IEW had a major update in 2021, they offered a $50 rebate towards the new program if you mailed in your old materials.

Another way to help justify the cost of Institute for Excellence in Writing is to keep costs low for other curriculum.

For example, we’ve loved and used a one-time spelling curriculum called Spelling Power that was a one-time buy of about $50 for all five of my kids for ALL of their years of schooling.

Related article: Spelling Power Curriculum Review

Additionally, we use Khan Academy for the majority of our math curriculum, which is completely free.

2. Videos can be lengthy

The only other potential negative is that the video lessons can sometimes run a bit long – 45 minutes to an hour.

My kids have been old enough that I can ask them to finish watching the video during their quiet time after lunch, so this hasn’t been a huge problem for us.

Free Resource Library

Before we finish up, if you’re not already a member of the Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s FREE Resource Library, you can get access right here!

newly updated resource library

You’ll find over 85 printable resources to help you keep your homeschool organized and lots of fun.

Think reading trackers, book report forms, unit study planners, holiday fun worksheets, and more!

Final thoughts about Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum

We have found IEW to be a fantastic writing curriculum for our homeschool and feel that it is absolutely worth the cost!

If you want to find out more, check out the IEW website here.

To get connected with IEW on social media, you can check out their Facebook Group, Twitter, and YouTube pages by clicking on each of these links!

(Their YouTube videos are great!)

If you have any questions about Institute for Excellence in Writing that this article hasn’t covered, please leave them in the comments below!

Related articles about homeschool curriculum:

Life of Fred Homeschool Math Curriculum Review

Sassafras Science Adventures Homeschool Science Curriculum Review

5 Reasons Why We Love Story of the World for Homeschool History

Five in a Row Preschool and Kindergarten Curriculum Review

Spelling You See Curriculum Review

5 Awesome Homeschool Math Curriculums You Need to Check Out

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What are your thoughts about this IEW curriculum review?

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Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m Jen, a former reluctant homeschool mom who is ready to help you actually enjoy homeschooling too. Read more here…

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