This will be the first blog in a five part series highlighting the five prongs of IEI’s curriculum on five consecutive Wednesdays. Today, we’ll focus on our Writing Curriculum. While every aspect of our curriculum cannot fit into one blog, the following is meant to give you a basic framework for understanding what our objectives are.
'writing in the journal' photo (c) 2011, Erin Kohlenberg - license:
In IEI’s six-level writing program, we connect reading with writing to optimize success. There are three general goals of our writing curriculum:
1. To help students express their own ideas clearly.
2. To introduce and train students in the following written essay styles: expository, descriptive, process, narrative, and persuasive.
3. To help our students reach near-native, educated writer competency in the specific styles which they need to their goals for using English.

In our lowest level, level 1, we work with students who may have no writing experience in English at all or very little. Content at this level focuses on helping students write about themselves, their family and friends, school, and common every day things such as food, clothing, and their homes. Simple sentences focused on the same idea are the target.

In level 2, students continue writing on the same topics as in level 1 but focus on increasing the level of detail and using a wider range of vocabulary and the ability to write more in a controlled amount of time. Writing sentences in chronological order is practiced while learning the concept of a main idea. Simple sentences are reinforced from level 1 and a move begins to compound sentences.

Following next in level 3, we take the basic skills developed in the first two levels and move to help students master organized paragraphs. Organization and content revolve around the functions of narration, description, and process. Level three continues to push students to increase their writing fluency while introducing more complex sentences that use adverb clauses for time.
'Edited Version of First Book' photo (c) 2009, Joanna Penn - license:
At our fourth level, our students take their strong paragraph skills into the world of essay writing. Essay styles keep the same focus as in three with narration, description, and process, with the addition of cause/effect. Within the focus of essay writing, students learn to use a thesis to guide their writing while continuing to create strong, well-organized paragraphs. Level 4 also begins the process of helping students learn to paraphrase and summarize which will be essential in our top two levels.

Moving into our advanced writing levels, writing 5 at IEI continues to work with students on their essay skills. At this level they are helped to make their writing more academic in style and vocabulary while beginning to incorporate outside sources in their essays. Vocabulary strength is demonstrated through use of synonyms, paraphrasing, and careful attention to word choice. Students are also expanding their ability to use more complex grammar forms in their writing.'Essay Writing...' photo (c) 2010, Morten Oddvik - license:

Our top level has students working on a fully developed research paper. Students choose their own topics and are guided by their teacher to do a large amount of planning, researching, and writing with the ultimate goal of putting together a well-thought-out research paper that demonstrates the students ability to organize content with accurate use of academic vocabulary, effective employment of complex grammar, and academic prowess in incorporating outside sources to support their thesis.

Throughout our writing curriculum, a process writing style is employed that gives the teacher multiple opportunities to give content, vocabulary, and grammar feedback to students while giving students opportunities to re-write and improve their writing styles.

There is a lot more to our writing program as well. Please visit our website ( or contact us at to learn more about us. If you are in the area, just drop by and we’d be happy to sit with you and explain more about what we do.

Happy writing!

What to look for next:
Check back this Friday to learn more about one of our newest teachers… Romy Frank!