Saturday, March 16, 2013

Essentials in Writing- TOS Review

Essentials in Writing Grade 11 photo EIW11thgrade_zps8fbcb40b.jpg
As a writer and a writing instructor I was eager to check out  Eleventh Grade Essay/Research Paper Curriculum by Essentials in Writing. Mr. Stephens, the founder and presenter of the materials has taught Jr. High writing for several years. It's obvious that he loves the subject matter and is an engaged and personable teacher.
 
EIW contains essential content, presented in a way that is simple and engaging. It would be a good fit families who are taking a relaxed approach to writing instruction,  for kids who haven't yet had a lot of writing, don't like writing, or have some major writing gaps that need filled before graduation.
 
This is a 3-step video based program.
  1. The students look at the workbook assignment, (which, in order to keep their prices affordable, EIW will be switching over to PDF workbook files. When you place your order, you'll get a code to download the file).
  2. Students then watch a segment on the DVD.
  3. They read and complete the workbook pages for the lesson. There is no textbook, as the worksheets contain quite a bit of information.
Pros
  • Easy to use. This program couldn't be easier to use. Read, Watch, Write.
  • Mr. Stephens is an engaging and dynamic presenter - both Feeche and I enjoyed how engaged and full of joi de vive Mr. Stephens appeared to be.
  • Teacher covers essential writing issues.
  • Program goes from simple to complex with ease, at a good pace, in a logical, sequential order. Love that.
  • This is an excellent overview program for relaxed homeschools, weak writers, or for those who haven't had a good solid writing program to date and need to ramp up their skills for college or the work force.
  • Feeche also mentioned that the program gave him some clear ideas, presented in ways that he hadn't heard before, about how to organize the details of paragraphs and essays.  
Cons
  • Presentation- Shirts and hair were distracting.
  • Simple spelling/grammar mistakes - Not a show stopper, and not pervasive and certainly not any more of an issue than if one had a real, live teacher in their midst.
  • While writing on the white board, often Mr. Stephens stepped directly in front of the board, leaving the viewers to watch his back while he wrote on the board. Perhaps a power point would have moved the lesson along while not cutting off the audience from the presenter.
  • Audio between lessons was very distracting, to the point of making it difficult for other kids to work in the area.
  • The teacher gives opinions such as "That is a good sentence" or "I like that paragraph" without fully explaining what makes it a good sentence.
  • Writing rubric relies on the student's ability to asses their own writing. I find that kids (and adults!) have a really difficult time objectively evaluating their own writing.
  • There was not a good visual overview of the program for us big picture people.  I would have appreciated knowing what grammar was going to be covered for this grade.
  • The writing prompts were mundane or just perfect, depending on your student.
  • We've used another writing program with a very similar acronym. I think that this will be very confusing in the homeschooling community, especially as things are discussed on on-line forums.
Content-  good to excellent depending on the intended student/audience
Organization - very good
Presentation - good/ very engaging presenter!
 
Included:  DVDs with lesson-by-lesson video instruction and a CD-ROM with printable worksheets/assignment sheets/answer key in PDF format
 Be sure to check out the other writing products available from EIW.
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