We had a rare opportunity to attend an Advanced Student Writing Intensive seminar. The theme was "Writing Stories". For two and a half hours (that flew by), approximately 40 kids sat mesmerized by jokes, antectdotes and amazing instruction by Mr. Pudewa. And for the last 24 hours, they have been producing interesting stories on their own, double-spaced, just like Andrew likes it. Every room in the house is riddled with short stories like "The Girl and the Monster", "The Banana People", and "The Almost-True Tale of Robert the Bruce".
I call it the Power of The Pudewa. Sure, IEW (The Institute for Excellence in Writing) has a pretty amazing product. The techniques they employ for teaching sound technical writing skills are phenomenal. But Andrew Pudewa is The Face of IEW and it is greatly due to him that my son Denver has embraced writing.
Mr. Pudewa understands boys and how boys learn. In fact, he has a lecture called "Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day", which you can download here. He understands what my husband and I have known from the get-go. Boys are not wired to sit still all day. Boys are not wired to work in workbooks, color quietly or write long stories about unicorns and sandcastles. Boys are wild creatures. They crave action, adventure and yes, a little violence. Okay a lot of violence. If the story has flesh scattering and blood flowing, the book will be consumed with happiness by a boy.
So, the first thing that Mr. Pudewa and IEW tell students that puts reluctant writers at ease is this: "Don't worry that you don't know what to write about. I'm going to tell you exactly what to write about. And then I'm going to give you a checklist that will tell you exactly when you're done." Because that's what alot of kids want to know. "When am I "done"?"
Using a variety of source texts, such as paragraphs about jellyfish, inventions, and other high-interest non-fiction subjects, as well as fables and fairy tales, children learn how to outline the paragraph using keywords (no more than 3 per sentence). Then they are able to re-tell the information in speech format, then write about it, dressing it up with colorful adjectives, strong verbs, -ly words and clauses. The result is an original piece of work and a grammar lesson all in one!
I don't claim to be an expert on IEW yet. I've watched the teacher DVDs for Teaching Structure and Style. I am learning this with my kids. I own, but haven't used, several of the products available for the middle/high school students. I'm looking forward to employing this method for the duration of their homeschooling years. I am confident this will give them an edge in college when it comes to annotating, employing the Socratic method, and communicating affectively with any audience. Hand-written essays are still required for many scholarships. A cover letter is still important in the marketplace. The written word is here to stay! And I don't think there is a better program out there for teaching students how to do it well.
|Solomon, IEW's Andrew Pudewa, and Denver|
Warning: The fun level of these workshops is intense. It will take alot out of you and leave you looking like this: