Institute for Excellence in Writing is a well-known name in the home school community, but the product I want to talk about today is great for any high school student, no matter how they receive their education. It is their High School Essay Intensive.
This is a new version, so if you think you already have this… you may not. :)
Essay Writing Program
This writing program includes 5 DVD’s of the founder of IEW, Andrew Pudewa, giving lectures on essay writing.
The DVD’s cover:
- General Strategies for Essay Writing (2 of the DVD’s)
- Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay
- Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay
- Strategies for the “personal essay”
He begins the lecture by giving a couple of essay prompts and asking the audience (both live and at home) to write an essay using that prompt. (He also tells his live audience if they don’t have paper, to ask the nearest girl if you can borrow some! Too funny!)
He then gives the audience 20 minutes to complete the task (at which time, we needed to pause the DVD for 20 minutes). My daughter didn’t quite finish hers in that time frame, but I was impressed with what she got done that quickly!
He then talks about how it was a good practice exercise and he will go over ways to be successful in writing. He feels it will help you learn how to do better on tasks like this your whole life.
He understands he is teaching a subject that could be considered boring by some, so he throws in some humor here and there. We have seen lots of online/DVD curriculum and some are extremely boring. Poke your eyes and ears out, boring. Andrew Pudewa does not produce that response. My daughter and I were both impressed with how interesting his lecture was.
Who Needs This?
This is a simple question to answer. Any high school student who needs to:
- Prepare for SAT
- Prepare for ACT
- Has high school writing assignments
- Write a personal essay someday for a college application
So, basically all high school students. Most high school students will be writing an essay for ACT, SAT, AP exams, or personal essay for college applications/scholarship applications. Even if you have no plans to go to college, it is still good to know how to write a persuasive essay. You never know when you may be able to use that skill.
What is an essay
He talks about what an essay actually IS. He says he has asked students this in the past and has gotten numerous different answers…
– Something you don’t want to do
– a really long report
– a paper with an introduction, body, and conclusion
While some of that might be true, he looked it up in the dictionary and the dictionary definition of an essay is: a short, written composition, generally expressing the ideas, belief, or opinion of the writer.
Okay, so it HAS to have an opinion and it would be nice if it had facts to back it up (evidence).
The first DVD
I can’t possibly talk about all the DVD’s and my daughter and I have not had time yet to go over all of them. So, I thought I would tell you what he talks about in the beginning of the first DVD, “General Strategies for Essay Writing: Invention and Style”.
He starts off by talking about the subcategories of essays. And, they are…
Expository – It explains something… you are teaching someone something, sharing knowledge.
Descriptive – Describes an image or picture in a vibrant, memorable way
He talks about G.K. Chesterton, an author he likes, whom wrote Father Brown. Chesterton also wrote over 4000 essays. One of them being, “On Lying in Bed” where he describes in detail the great virtue of lying in bed. Chesterton says there is no value in it if you are sick or tired … it is only valuable if you don’t HAVE to lie down. He presents a strong image of lying in bed for his reader.
Argumentative – You will have a thesis or statement that you want to prove. You make a claim, then support it with reasons and examples.
Persuasive – You don’t give them your statement first. You first ask a question. The question should create curiosity so people will want to read it. Then, support your answer to the question, using strategy to get the reader to agree with your viewpoint.
Analytical – Break up something into it’s parts and evaluate them. Use critical thinking to evaluate/judge the whole. A movie review is an example he gives of this kind of essay. Also, the SAT essay is an analytical essay.
Narrative – Tell a story to illustrate a point. It must have 3 elements: character(s), a problem, conflict, or need, and a resolution. It would be great if it has some sort of point or reason to it.
Personal – University application – It is all about you. What do you love, why do you want to go to this university, what have you done, what is your motivation? No one reading the essay really cares about you, though, so include a good story for the most effective personal essay. This way the reader is not bored.
I only touched the surface of the information he goes over. After going over the types of essays, he dives into HOW to write it, WHO you are writing to, proper paragraphs, and more.
I feel like once my daughter has watched all the DVD’s and completed the accompanying activities, she will be more than prepared for any essay assignment that comes her way.
Information at a glance:
What is it? High School Essay Intensive by IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing)
For whom? High school students
How much is it? $79
What is included in that price? 5 DVD’s and handouts