Search This Blog

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing: Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons

Curly loves to write and has a talent for it. He has been writing stories since before he could actually write. He used to dictate long, elaborate stories to us when he was three and four years old. I still have the old notebook full of these early stories, and they are a lot of fun to read now. His ambition is to be an author someday, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he achieves that goal.

Because he is a gifted writer, we haven't focused much on a formal writing program in the early years. I let him write what he enjoyed, sometimes with a prompt from me. Then we would go through the editing process and create a final product. Last year, I decided we needed some more structure to take his writing to the next level. We floundered a little bit. We tried Writing with Ease, but it is very repetitive, and he was bored and frustrated by the interminably slow progress through the book. We threw in a book full of creative writing projects, and while he enjoyed that, it still wasn't what I felt we needed.

Our homeschool evaluator recommended the Institute for Excellence in Writing, but the sticker price was a bit too high for me. She then recommended their history-based writing lessons, and they have been a perfect fit.

We are using the Medieval-based book because that is the time period we are studying this year. I purchased Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons in Structure, Style, Grammar, and Vocabulary from Rainbow Resources. I picked up the student book, the teacher's manual, and we downloaded the Student Resource Notebook e-book free of charge. All of the books can be purchased at

There are 29 lessons in the book; each one takes about a week. The first five have taught how to create a key word outline and produce a written piece from that. Topics have included the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mohammed. Future assignments will include formal essays, narratives, critiques, creative writing, and the super-essay. Lessons are divided into Parts A (grades 3-5) and B (grades 6-8) , depending on the level of the student.

What I like:

As we are a classical schooling family, it fits perfectly. We are learning about the Middle Ages in history and reading works from or about that time in our literature. It makes sense that our writing should focus on the same topics. For example, this past week, we were studying Charlemagne, and Curly's writing assignment was on... you guessed it. Charlemagne.

The lessons are well laid out. He can work through the numbered assignments for the week on his own.

The lessons build on one another. Lessons 1-5 focused on using quality words (There is a list of banned words he may not use, like said, went, interesting, and big.), titles, dialogue, emotion, and the five senses. Now he is expected to incorporate those ideas throughout the rest of the book AND add in the new material. He is now learning about opening sentences and clinchers.

Each week's lesson comes with a grading rubric. He can see up front what is expected of him that week. He is responsible to make sure everything that is in the rubric is in his piece. On the final draft, he is to highlight different words or phrases to be sure he has included them. This helps him to be very sure he has done all he can to have a well-written assignment. There is a different rubric for level A and for level B.

There are five vocabulary words each week, with periodic quizzes. The words are printed on little cards with a picture to help. On the reverse side, there is a definition and synonyms. The words are relevant and required for use in the assignments.

The Details:

Title: IEW Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons
Age: 3-8 grade, leveled
Length: 29 weeks
Price: $49.00 for the student/teacher combo pack
          $29.00 for student book only, $24.00 for teacher book only

No comments:

Post a Comment