IEW: Structure and Style

Confident and competent communicators and thinkers

The Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) programme, for which I am an independent instructor, teaches students how to structure and style their writing to improve its effectiveness. Students are also taught how to think in order to come up with what to write about.

It helps the natural writer give form to their writing, and provides the reluctant writer a foundation from which they can put their ideas and stories on paper. Students practise what they learn, so that hopefully this becomes a natural part of their writing.

The mission

IEW’s mission is “to equip teachers and teaching parents with methods and materials which will aid them in training their students to become confident and competent communicators and thinkers.”

I really like the ‘confident and competent communicators and thinkers’ part. Isn’t that what we want for our children? As an IEW instructor, this will also be my mission.


The IEW programme teaches different structural models which apply to different types of compositions. These include: narrative story writing, report writing, writing from pictures, inventive (creative) writing, essay writing, and formal critiques.


Words can create a powerful image, mood or feeling. Choosing the right words, and using appropriate language devices improves the writing’s impact. To achieve this, IEW teaches students how to improve the way they say things, including: selecting the right words, connecting ideas, varying their sentence structure, and using various language devices.

Avoiding ‘blank page syndrome’

‘Blank page syndrome’ is when a child struggles to come up with something to write, which can cause distress and a dislike of writing. IEW avoids this by providing ‘source text’ for lessons in Units 1 to 4, and 6. After learning a new concept, students improve this text by implementing what they have learnt. In Unit 5, instead of a source text, students are given pictures as prompts. In Unit 7 they don’t receive any content, but instead are taught how to generate ideas and write about a wide range of topics; equipping them to fill the blank page.

Encouraging thinking

Throughout the IEW programme, students are guided to ask and answer questions to help draw out the ideas and content for their writing, and this encourages thinking. The questions change according to the type of writing, but asking the right questions helps to solve the problem of what to write.

History of IEW

The methodology that IEW is based on has its origins in a programme developed by a Canadian primary school teacher, a Mrs Anna Ingham. She taught from the 1930s and during her several decades of teaching designed a phonics-based reading and writing programme, the Blended Sound-Sight Program of Learning. Her programme had such a positive impact on students and teachers that she was awarded the Order of Canada.

Then in the 1970s, her nephew, Dr James B. Webster adapted it to improve the writing of university students he was teaching history to. Dr Webster discovered that these students couldn’t write well enough to explain the history they were learning, so provided them with a short lesson on writing at the start of his lectures. He developed this into a nine unit programme called the Blended Structure and Style in Composition. It was expanded into a programme for intermediate and high school aged students, and also a professional development course for teachers.

In the 1990s, Mr Andrew Pudewa, an American English and History teacher of 7th and 8th graders (in NZ, Years 8 and 9), met Dr Webster when taking his professional development course. After attending this for a number of years, Dr Webster gave Mr Pudewa permission to streamline the course and teach it in North America.

Happy wordsmiths

IEW is an established, proven and award-winning writing curriculum. It receives a lot of positive feedback on Facebook, achieving a rating of 4.9 out of 5 from 151 people (at the time of writing this). To find more happy wordsmiths using IEW, just Google ‘IEW reviews’.