Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Review

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) is a company that I have admired ever since we started looking into homeschooling curriculum, which is why I was so happy for the opportunity to review their products! We received the Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1] (Teacher Manual) and the Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1] (Student Book). This grammar curriculum is intended for children in grades 3-5, so I will be reviewing this product as a homeschooling parent of a future 3rd grader.

Institute for Excellence in Writing offers products for children ages K through 12. There are
four levels: Primary (Grades K-2), Level A (Grades 3-5), Level B (Grades 6-8), and Level C (Grades 9-12). The Fix It! Grammar book The Nose Tree falls into the Level A category. Their products also do not stop at learning to write. There are also products for reading, spelling, literature, poetry, and even music! I like that their writing lessons blend subjects, like science, history and geography.

I love creating and using hands-on activities and real life learning experiences to educate my children. Often when they are playing, they don't even realize that they are learning. Learning is more natural this way, and no one is stressed out. I keep track of what page we were on while reading about whales, but not which worksheet we left off on. We won't be bothering ourselves with lectures or copy work. I learn best by applying what I learn, and my children are the same way. They have different learning styles, but they have this in common. We do occasionally use worksheets for tracing activities, but we try to stick to original activities for the most part.

This product is easy to use and really works! This is not copy work. This is applying your knowledge in a logical way. There's no worksheets, no following drills, no lecturing. Just 15 minutes or less a day, one lesson per day, a few days a week. Your child will thank you for this grammar curriculum, because not only is it easy to use, but it will encourage them to find their own mistakes. I can't say it's fun, because some kids just don't enjoy writing, but it does look like a product that most children will enjoy using. They will learn the rules of grammar over time and through repetitive use. Not to say that each lesson is the same, because that is not the case.

I loved reading through the Teacher's Manual! That probably sounds weird, but it was so thorough and included so much information. Each lesson goes into great detail, including word definitions and teaching suggestions. It also tells you when there is advanced grammar and whether it is above the teaching level for this book. I know I'll need to go through this book again before I begin teaching it, but in the meantime I loved brushing up on my grammar knowledge.

The Student Book covers 33 weeks of lessons. Each day you student will work on a line from the paragraph. They will make any corrections needed and learn some grammar rules. At the end of the week they will write down their corrected paragraph in a separate book specifically for the completed story. They will work on learning the grammar rules, look up vocabulary words that will be covered in the lesson, and correct the passage that is the focus of the week. Beginner students should definitely start at the daily lessons, but advanced students may want to work on the whole passage at once. The student book also includes a set of grammar rule cards to help during the weekly lessons, as well as a glossary to look up rules and where to find them in the book.

We are looking forward to using The Nose Tree Grammar Book because I know that 3rd grade is right around the corner, and I want to be prepared! Not to mention, I can apply what I learn from this product to our future writing activities. My kids aren't at the point of writing on their own yet, since they are still working on writing letters and words. And honestly, they are more focused on reading, which is perfectly fine. But I know my daughter will be writing sooner or later, because she loves to tell stories and we enjoy writing them down. She will love that this product encourages her to write a story and apply what she knows to making corrections.

Fix It! Grammar Review
There are six books in the Fix It! Grammar series. The Nose Tree (3-5, 6-8, 9-12), Robin Hood (3-5, 6-8, 9-12), Frog Prince, or Just Deserts (6-8, 9-12), Little Mermaid (6-8, 9-12), Chanticleer (9-12), and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (9-12). Be sure to take the Placement Test to see which book your child is ready for. Many of these books can be used by multiple grade levels, so taking the test will show you the best place to start. If you begin with The Nose Tree and find that it works for you, you can move up through the series as the years pass, though there may be a few year gaps. Perhaps in that time they will release more grammar books, or simply supplement with other IEW writing lesson books!
Fix It! Grammar Review
Teacher's Manual: $19.00
Student Workbook: $15.00

Throughout the year, your child will write the story The Nose Tree. There are 33 weeks worth of lessons, with four lessons per week. If you school Monday-Friday, I'd use Friday to review the lessons through the week or work on original writing pieces that include the grammar rules they learned that week. Some homeschoolers have vocabulary tests, so these could also be done on Friday, since each week has a set of vocabulary words. At the end of the year, when the story is complete, sit down and read it together. Kids will be amazed by all their hard work, and may even be inspired to begin writing stories of their own!

We keep a primary journal for writing activities (the type where you can draw a picture and write below the picture) and plan to use one when we begin using The Nose Tree grammar book. We will use it only for copying down the corrected pages. This way Bean can have a book that will allow her to draw her own pictures to go with the story. And at the end of the year we will be able to read the finished story together. 

I specifically want to use IEW's writing lesson books on Ancient History, US History and Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales when we reach the 3rd-5th Grade level, along with some of their other products, such as the Geography-Based writing lesson materials. And ideally, I would like to pick up some of their K-2 reading and writing curriculums for next year!

Be sure to check out IEW's social media pages!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinwriting
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iew
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/iewriting
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Iewriting/posts
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/iewtv
Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/iewtv

If you'd like to read more reviews on the Fix It! Grammar books, click on the link below!

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