The seminar is broken down into four parts on five DVDs in which Mr. Pudewa teaches students how to actually implement the Structure and Style Writing Method. (You might remember that we first fell in love with IEW while using the Deluxe Combo that taught this method.) The first session (DVDs labeled 1a and 1b) cover the general principles of composing an essay. Students learn how to choose what they will write about, how to arrange and organize their ideas, and how to present those ideas with style. My girl was quick to point out that she "knows how to write an essay" when I first handed the DVDs over. That said, it was a great place for her to begin and hear refresher information before she starts preparing to take college entrance exams next year.
The next three sessions cover specific tasks for high schoolers as they prepare for college with insight into both the ACT and SAT writing tests (updated to current test content), AP exams, and personal statements for college and scholarship applications. In the second session (DVD labeled 2), students are taught strategies for writing the optional ACT essay. They learn who grades the essay (two educators), how the grading is broken down and points are scored, and are given sample prompts and offered hints on writing and proofing in order to best showcase their skills. Mr. Pudewa explains to the students that the ACT essay test wants students to have an opinion about a condition or situation that is going on in the world. The ACT essay is an argumentative essay and students start with a thesis that they set out to prove with reasoning and examples.
In the third session (DVD labeled 3), students are taught techniques and planning methods to help write an effective SAT essay. Mr. Pudewa explains the audience that will be grading the test (mostly high school and college English teachers) and how the grading is broken down into three parts: reading, analysis/content, and general writing. The SAT essay is purely an analytical essay in which students read a previously published composition and offer a critical evaluation of it using evidence, reasoning, and style persuasion. Although we don't take the SAT, the information provided in this session has offered invaluable insight to my son on taking the comprehension portions of the ACT.
The final session (DVD labeled 4) focuses on strategies needed for the "personal essay." This includes great tips and techniques for submitting examples of your writing with your college application. Mr. Pudewa explains to students that over the years, the writing skills of high school and college students has been in decline. As a result, colleges are now requiring submitted essays to gauge the strengths of the student. He further states that good writing is a great indicator of those who will be successful in higher education and he explains the many variables of the required essays. He offers great tips for making the essay a truly personal way to "sell" yourself and showcase your best self to the college admissions counselors reading it. We held the graduation ceremony for my boy on Saturday, so this is the world we currently find ourselves in and it was the perfect place for him to begin.
Although your students could certainly take this intensive seminar in one day (as recorded), I would suggest that you break the sessions up into daily lessons. The shortest run time is right at 50 minutes and the longest is almost two hours. At my house, that would make for a very long day and my kids are easily distracted, so . . . what we've done is split the seminar up into smaller chunks of learning. My 10th and 12th graders don't need their momma's help so much anymore, but I'm here for accountability. Instead of just handing over a new curriculum, I make sure that we discuss expectations on how long it should take, the benefits that will be reaped from diligent study, AND completed work must be verified by me. That means you can't just watch the seminar. You have to write the essays, too.
As always, IEW has thought of everything and included extra resources to help my students succeed. The Portable Walls for the Essayist is a neat double-sided tri-fold that serves as a reminder/cheat sheet while in the midst of writing. It's the perfect size to fit right in the front of my daughter's writing binder and can be easily referenced as she writes.
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Once again, IEW is a winner for our family. Check it out for yours.
I was given the opportunity to review High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this Unit Study and other resources we reviewed (or just click on the banner below.)