IEW (the Institute for Excellence in Writing) publishes a series of courses that use subject matter from history, literature, and the Bible for students to practice composition skills learned through their Structure and Style courses. IEW’s latest themed-writing course, Wonders of Science Writing Lessons, uses topics from science. Parents and teachers need to be familiar with the Structure and Style methodology—or be learning it a step ahead of students—before teaching any of IEW's theme-based writing courses.
The primary goal of this course for grades three through five is developing writing skills, although students will probably learn some science along the way. The science topics range widely to include creatures, such as honeybees and monarch butterflies; inventions, such as the steam engine and the Model T; scientists, such as Nikola Tesla and George Washington Carver; and stories related to science, such as Jack and the Beanstalk and Daedalus and Icarus.
The course components are a teacher’s manual and a student book. Both books are spiral-bound and printed in black and white. The course includes optional PDF downloads of supplemental resources that are pertinent to the course. These include checklists, vocabulary cards, simplified source texts, advanced supplements for the lessons, and student-written examples for the writing assignments.
The course parallels the Structure and Style course layout with writing assignments incorporating elements taught in corresponding Structure and Style units. So the lessons in the Wonders of Science Writing Lessons begin with Note Making and Outlines. The rest of the units progress through Writing from Notes, Retelling Narrative Stories, Summarizing a Reference, Writing from Pictures, Summarizing Multiple References, Inventive Writing, Formal Essay Models, and Formal Critique and Response to Literature. There are one to four lessons under each of these headings.
For example, the unit on Retelling Narrative Stories has four week-long lessons. In each lesson, students will work with a different source text (each about one page in length), working through the process of writing a key-word outline, then writing a three-paragraph narrative from their outline. They will work on different aspects of writing a narrative each week. They add different "dress-ups" each week, such as the “because clause dress-up” they learn to use in their narrative of Jack and the Beanstalk. Students also practice using new vocabulary words each week. Because each lesson revolves around a different writing skill, the structure of the lessons varies.
A checklist form (from the downloadable PDF supplements) should help students check themselves to see that they have paid attention to structural elements and added the required elements of style for each assignment. Space for scoring assignments is included on these checklists.
The teacher’s manual includes reproduced images of student pages with suggested answers overprinted when there are predictable answers. A parent or teacher presents the lessons and works with students as needed as they apply what they learn, write rough drafts, and polish their work.
Wonders of Science provides one more way to apply composition skills learned through Structure and Styles courses. The lessons break the writing process down into very manageable and structured steps that make it easy for children to learn to write well.