IEW comprehensive writing curriculum

The “Write” Way Forward: A Holistic Writing Curriculum | IEW (I)

Do you remember the last time you read something that truly captured your attention and held it until the very end?

Writing is a powerful tool that allows us to communicate our ideas and connect with others, yet this essential skill has seen a decline over the past years.

As we strive to equip the next generation with the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever to focus on a holistic writing curriculum that is comprehensive, engaging, and effective.

In this series, we will take a closer look at IEW’s Structure and Style approach to writing and explore how it can help students become confident, articulate writers.

Other articles in this series:

  2. The 3 writing programs offered by IEW and how IEW teaches writing
  3. Structure and Style for Students Components
  4. 10+ IEW tools you wish you knew about
  5. Is it too repetitive? Comparison between Level A Year 1 and 2
  6. From Doubt to Confidence – our honest review of IEW’s SSS

The “Write” Way Forward- an IEW Review – Holistic Writing Curriculum

There’s a decline in our children’s writing skills. Traditional writing curricula often lack the necessary tools and skills to teach students how to write effectively, which can affect their academic and professional success. This is why it’s more important than ever to teach writing from comprehensive, engaging, and effective curricula.

A holistic writing curriculum involves considering the complete picture before beginning to write.
Holistic writing instruction encourages students to develop a clear understanding of the writing process, including how to generate and organize ideas effectively, how to write in different genres and styles, and how to revise and edit their work for clarity, coherence, and correctness.

One example of a holistic writing curriculum is the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Structure and Style approach, which focuses on teaching students to write with clarity, structure, and style.

IEW's Structure and Style for Students- comprehensive writing curriculum

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What makes a holistic writing curriculum?

Unfortunately, there are more and more reports of writing (and communication) skills decreasing. So what can we do about it?

We can start with teaching writing holistically.

A comprehensive approach to writing instruction involves considering the complete picture before beginning to write and is known as a holistic writing curriculum.

A holistic writing curriculum is a writing program that goes beyond simply teaching students the mechanics of writing (such as grammar and sentence structure) and instead focuses on developing the whole writer.

A holistic writing curriculum from IEW- best homeschool writing curriculum2

Holistic writing instruction encourages students to develop a clear understanding of the writing process, including how to generate and organize ideas effectively, how to write in different genres and styles, and how to revise and edit their work for clarity, coherence, and correctness.

Writing is not just about putting words on paper but also about organizing those words in a clear, concise, and coherent manner that effectively communicates our message to our intended audience.

One example of a holistic writing curriculum is the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Structure and Style approach, which focuses on teaching students to write with clarity, structure, and style.

The lost art: why writing skills are disappearing

Writing levels are declining everywhere. A lot of kids are not ready to write for college and beyond, and college professors and employers alike are worried about this trend. This is all due to the poor or incomplete writing instruction they received.

Traditional writing curricula often lack the necessary tools and skills to teach students how to write effectively and this lack of writing instruction can affect their academic and professional success.

“We are more often than not disappointed at the subpar writing ability of the applicants for openings at our organization. Many applicants are from very good colleges. Many have graduate degrees. Many are very poor writers.

Their lack of writing ability does not augur well. When we look at what they have written, the logic of the narrative is often very hard to find. It would appear that their lack of writing ability stands as mute testimony to their lack of thinking ability. “

Marc Tucker, Education Week, Our Students Can’t Write Very Well—It’s No Mystery Why

Knowing how to organize your writing and produce a satisfactory, logical piece of text is equivalent to knowing how to think, summarize, analyze and organize your ideas. There is no writing without thinking and no way to organize your ideas without writing.

“Writing is ninety-nine percent thinking, one percent writing. In other words, when you know what you want to say and how you want to say it, writing becomes easier and more successful. But students are not taught how to think about what they want to communicate and how they want to represent their thoughts before they write. […] As a result, when students do write, their writing is often confused, disorganized, undeveloped, and repetitive.”

Susan Osborn, Ph.D, The Writing Center of Princeton, Why Kids Can’t Write
writing is difficult for children

Colleges all over now have separate introductory writing programs because high school graduates enter college without knowing how to write well, but writing well takes time and a lot of practice.

“During their high school careers, most of our students were not writing with the frequency we might expect, nor were they doing the types of writing that we will require of them in their college years. In a study at George Washington University (2007), first-year undergraduates reported that the most frequently assigned high school writing tasks required them to offer and support opinions, with a secondary emphasis on summarizing and synthesizing information. Students were rarely required to criticize an argument, define a problem and propose a solution, shape their writing to meet their readers’ needs, or revise based on feedback. Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education (2006), 61% of high school teachers said their students have never written a paper that was more than five pages. As a result, students have not had enough practice to develop a set of sophisticated writing skills.”

Carnegie Mellon University, Why are students coming into college poorly prepared to write?

So shouldn’t we stop and think about the tools and skills the kids have before we demand full original compositions of them?

Can you really ask kids to write using a certain form, for a certain audience, or at a certain level if they don’t know what your demand entails? And can they improve if we keep asking them to generate the same type of writing?

They need to be shown the tools, taught the rules, and have the skills before creating truly original and creative work. We need to start teaching writing holistically.

“You can’t get something out of a brain that isn’t there to begin with!”

Andrew Pudewa

Why is it so hard to teach good writing skills? The processes involved in writing

Writing is a multifaceted process that involves a combination of skills, including basic mechanics such as handwriting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation, a well-developed vocabulary, organizational abilities, and higher-order thinking.

“Writing is a craft. Like any other craft, it is learned only by doing it, over and over and over, at increasing levels of challenge, under the watchful eye of an expert.”

Marc Tucker, Ed Week – Our Students Can’t Write Very Well- It’s No Mystery Why

It’s no surprise that we may encounter difficulties teaching writing, given the breadth and depth of these skills.

It’s essential to provide our children with high-quality, comprehensive writing curriculum and plenty of practice to help them develop excellent writing skills.

That’s why a holistic writing curriculum goes beyond just giving them assignments to complete. We need to teach all the necessary components systematically and explicitly to ensure their success.

A holistic writing curriculum from IEW- best homeschool writing curriculum

Aside from these points, in podcast number 339 from IEW, “How to Teach Writing with Confidence“, Mr. Pudewa outlines the main processes that go behind the scenes when we are writing from a cognitive point of view.

We repeat this process for every idea we hold and want to transfer on paper. So that’s a lot to demand from young writers.

Writing is an art that needs to be taught, regardless of talent

While some people have a natural inclination towards writing, the skills necessary to become a proficient writer need to be taught and developed through practice and instruction.

If we don’t challenge kids to write better, if we don’t give them rules and a framework for writing, there will be little evolution over the years.

Without a clear guide and being taught how to write with clarity and intent, they will hit a limit of growth in writing no matter how talented they are. They won’t be capable of writing for the reader, for a certain level, within a certain form, following requirements, or even being open to criticism.

writing is an art

And it’s something worried teachers all over the world are pointing out:

“Exhibit A: student writing.

Picture a piece of notebook paper with printing (no more cursive handwriting) that starts on the first line all the way on the left-hand side and continues down the entire page without any indentations, paragraphs or blank lines. Just a block of text.

I even have students who turn in multiple pages of their work without stapling them together.

If I were talking about a third-grade class, you wouldn’t be surprised.

But I’m referring to 10th graders in an honors class, two years away from entering college.


How can a 15-year-old get this far in school and not know how to follow the most fundamental rules of writing?”

Brian Crosby, The Whiteboard Jungle: Writing skills continue to decline in schools

Why I think the world needs IEW for writing instruction

There are so many options out there when it comes to writing, but only one truly stands out to me as excellent and comprehensive.

And that’s IEW. 

That’s not to say there are no other great programs to teach writing, but this one, I feel, covers the broadest range of student abilities because it works for both reluctant and advanced writers. IEW provides a holistic writing curriculum that teaches good writing incrementally, from instruction to lesson structure, concept introduction, and checklists.

The world needs IEW for writing because:

  • Traditional school curricula lack effective writing instruction, with creative prompts or mechanics taking over and no real explanation given on how to write effectively and organize ideas.
  • IEW’s approach challenges students to write better and provides a clear guide on how to write with clarity and intent.
  • The curriculum offered by IEW is designed to teach a series of important writing skills to students. These skills include organizational skills such as creating key word outlines, summarizing and analyzing, as well as mechanics skills such as grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Additionally, the curriculum also covers rhetorical techniques, critical thinking, and research.
  • Without proper writing instruction, students may hit a limit of growth in writing no matter how talented they are.
  • Poor writing skills can affect students’ confidence, and hinder their success in college or job applications.
  • Many teachers worldwide have expressed concern over declining writing skills among students, including a lack of understanding of fundamental writing rules. We can change this by choosing better curricula to teach writing.
teaching writing with structure and style from IEW

I adore IEW and Marc tolerates it (which is an amazing feat coming from a STEM gifted boy who used to cry when he had to give a short written answer on paper). What IEW has achieved in almost 2 years of instruction with my son is something I never thought I’d see and I will detail that in our final article on IEW’s writing curriculum. We love our 6th grade curriculum options this year, and we’ll continue using IEW for many years to come.

I’ll just say this: 

It takes an amazing teacher and a carefully developed method to deliver information that stays with kids forever. It’s amazing how IEW works across a multitude of abilities when it comes to writing, from kids with learning difficulties to reluctant writers and all the way to naturally gifted writers. 

Are you ready for more?

This article was just an introduction to the series on IEW that I will post over the next few weeks. Keep up with them and hopefully I will manage to answer some of your questions and help you truly see inside the world of holistic writing instruction.

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