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How to pair IEW and CC Fables

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    How to pair IEW and CC Fables

    I have just pulled my soon-to-be 4th and 2nd graders out of public school, and have chosen to use full MP cores for the coming year. I am grateful for all the wisdom on this forum and in the articles!

    Given the popularity of IEW and the many who sing its praises for reluctant writers, as well as the many discussions I read on the forum (including a GREAT article comparing the two), I plan to use IEW before we begin CC. I purchased both, and began looking through materials. I noticed that unit 3 of IEW is basically the same concept as Fables, but not as in-depth and thorough. The article claimed that IEW and CC can/should be paired. So, my ultimate question is:

    1.Should we start 4th grade with IEW units 1-3, then pause IEW and complete the year with Fables. In 5th grade we would begin IEW with unit 4 and finish?


    2.Should I stick with IEW for 4th grade and begin Fables in 5th grade?

    From my current understanding, pros and cons would be:
    - option 1 pro:
    -seems more consistent with Classical/MP teaching tradition (i.e. master a foundational concept first, then build on what you have already mastered)
    -Side note: It almost reminds me of the spiral vs. mastery learning in math, IEW being spiral and CC being mastery
    -option 1 con:
    -might be too much stopping and starting of programs, maybe confusing for student?
    -I trust the writers of IEW have a method to their madness and a reason for suggesting completing the program in one year

    Other considerations:
    I definitely want to complete IEW in no more than 2 years (I don't want to only do IEW units 1-3 and then move to CC completely). I also have a 2nd grader. I don't know whether to modify and work with her in writing as well, or just wait until 3rd grade for her.

    Thank you for your support!

    Hi Meg,

    Welcome to homeschooling! I hope you find this year to be energizing and joyful as you embark on teaching your children!
    You are asking a fantastic question about IEW and CC. I do not teach IEW personally, but I have been thoroughly briefed by those familiar with both, in order to understand how they best work together.

    I think that you mentioned you will be instructing both a 2nd and a 4th grader this year, so what I would suggest is completing IEW 1-4 totally before moving on to fables. I hesitate your first year to suggest leap frogging between curricula, especially when, as you said, one is spirally integrated, and the other is vertically integrated. The super-focused skills for sentences and vocabulary in IEW 1-4 will be excellent prep for CC, and your 5th grader (the next year) will be very ready for high quality fables in quite a short amount of time.

    The BEST part of doing IEW for your first year is that you are able to teach BOTH your students at the same time! While your 2nd grader may dictate some parts of the exercises to you, or simply give you verbal answers that you don't need to always write down, instead of the 2nd grader doing as much writing as your 4th grader, the vocabulary and structural work is highly valuable for both grades. Hopefully this will also take some pressure off your schedule and allow you to really enjoy seeing the creativity and imagination of your growing writers.

    By the way, if you wait until 6th grade to start CC (I include this because you mentioned above doing IEW in no more than 2 years) for your rising 4th grader, consider a path like this:
    6th: Fable/Narrative (by this time 6th graders can condense the two into one year, with very few problems! They are much more proficient and speedy writers, and a lesson every week or two, instead of 18 lessons in the whole year does not phase them at this stage of CC)
    7th: Chreia/Maxim
    8th: Ref/Con
    9th: Common Topic
    10th: Encomium/Invective/Comparison
    10th: Characterization, Description, and Thesis/Law (HSIII)
    12th AP Language, AP Literature, Other Literature, or Foundations of Composition

    I know this is just the beginning of a much bigger conversation, as your plans unfold, tailor, and succeed for your children. We're here to help you work out what is best for your family and each child's needs!
    Let me know what else I can help with, or if I can clarify any of my answers.

    Abigail Johnson
    MPOA Teacher



      This makes a lot of sense, and was actually my plan from the beginning. THANK YOU for taking the time to help me navigate unfamiliar territory. I just need some clarification: when you say complete IEW 1-4, do you mean grades 1-4? Are there 4 levels of IEW (I am only aware of levels A and B)? Or are we talking units 1-4?

      Also, given the options of beginning CC in 5th or 6th grades, would you recommend (for my rising 4th grader) doing one year of IEW and starting Fables next year, or completing 2 years of IEW and combining Fables and Narrative in 6th?

      Thank you again!

      Meagan Roland


        Hi Meagan,
        here is a handy flow chart from a colleague of mine that helps map out IEW, see below.

        I apologize for the link share, but I'm in mid travel and am using my phone, so attaching PDFs isn't an option for the moment.

        I would honestly keep your 2nd and 4th graders together for IEW, working together, just at different capacities, and then make the launch into Fable together, knowing your younger child will be in 4th grade and at the perfect age to start CC at the one book a year pace, while your older child will go right into fable and narrative in the first year.

        About your rising 4th grader, I would do 2 years of IEW and also shore up the grammar, spelling, sentence structure aspects of writing first. You mentioned your student being a reluctant writer, so making sure the "pre-paragraph" skills are solid saves a lot of grief later. You will quickly be able to see the areas your writers are doing well in, and those areas where you will need to stop and spend some time on. What is your grammar/mechanics plan, are you using MP?



          I love the idea of keeping them together! Are you recommending that we only do units 1-4 of IEW, and do those units 2 years in a row? Or should we do all units of IEW 2 times through? Or complete all units of IEW once, slowly over a 2 year period?

          I am planning to use MP for everything except IEW. I also received a free copy of "Fix It Grammar" from IEW, but I was planning on leaving it on the shelf and sticking with MP unless you think otherwise.


            Hi Meagan,
            I think 1-2 years of IEW in units 1-4 would be a great starting place. Honestly, one thing about IEW I don't care for in the upper units is that you try and do it with students who are too young and are just not ready for the complexity of the analysis that you're asking them to do, researching, filtering through research points, comparing them and putting them all together. It's a lot of work because it's a little bit young for them, just in my opinion. That's why I like the model system better in Chreia/Maxim to barely introduce research.
            I would suggest again, doing units one through four for the next year to two years, however long it takes for you to give them that solid grammatical foundation. You mentioned you're just doing Memoria Press, so definitely those grammar and spelling books are essential! The biggest thing at the younger ages or with writers who are reluctant or are still developing, having come from a different writing system such as the public schools offer, is to make sure first that they have solid mechanical skills, and that will set them up for the best success. That's why I think IEW with its smaller lessons, not so " whole paper focused" at the beginning units would be a good fit for you at first, and then go on to Fable and begin classical composition. You can always decide later on, when you have a better idea how your students are doing, to reintroduce some iew or move things around. Remember, you are in charge, and you get to make the decisions for what works best for your students and your family! That's the wonderful thing about homeschooling, is that you are the bottom line when it comes to what works and what doesn't for your family!


              When you talk about IEW units 1-4, is that the book All Things Fun and Fascinating or something else? I'm new to all of this. I have a 3rd and 5th grader coming from private school to homeschool this year. I don't think either have had much grammar at all.

              For 5th and 3rd graders, what would you recommend? Both are boys and writing isn't their favorite thing, but they always grow to love things that they have mastered. I appreciate your wisdom, experience, and advice!

              We purchased the core for both 3rd and 5th although we are planning to supplement with the All About Reading/All About Spelling program for our 3rd grader because he didn't learn the tougher spelling and phonics in school so we are trying to make sure he didn't miss anything.


                Hello Mollyslavik !
                Welcome to MP, homeschooling, and Classical Education!

                I always recommend waiting on CC AND IEW until a good basic grasp of Grammar, Mechanics, and Spelling is there. It saves so much tortuous editing if your students are able to consistently spell and are learning to "catch themselves" on their own in their editing. That isn't to say they don't need another pair of eyes (I still have my husband edit my writing often, and he has me look at his) but the developing "eye for editing" should have begun. That being said, IEW is a great way to begin, but shouldn't take the place of a full grammar, spelling, and mechanics preparation, such as our Traditional Spelling, Spelling Workout, English Grammar Practice, Course Skills Language Arts Books, and English Grammar Practice. However, if you are not starting Latin, I would recommend Rod and Staff, which offers a more comprehensive Grammar that our English Grammar books alone. Our books were meant to go hand in hand with the Latin grammar, so again, if you are not starting Latin use Rod and Staff.

                This is not to say that you can't dabble in ATFF and enjoy the subjects, creativity, and variation, but make sure your time priority is English structural foundation.
                I always say, "Write a sentence before you write a paragraph," so if you need to take a year and focus on grammar, TAKE IT. It will only reap deep rewards later on, as older student catch up on style more quickly, but grammar and mechanics left abandoned will only be a lifelong constriction.

                By the way, ATFF is Units 1-7. I'm not super familiar with it, as I don't teach it, but I believe it covers Units 1-7, not just 1-4.

                Please let me know if I can help you at all! I understand this is A LOT to take on, and I am here to encourage you and help you be confident about your choices for the year.


                  I Have a 3rd and 5th grader and we are using Memoria Press. I am planning to use Rod and Staff English for grammar since my kids have had very little. I’ve read that it is written for classroom use so I can skip some of the practice problems if its too much.

                  We are also doing First Form Latin (5th grader) and Latina Cristiana (3rd).

                  My 5th grader will follow the Spelling Workout.

                  For composition, I’d like to do the IEW this year before moving onto CC. We started the first CC Fable lesson and decided to save it for next year. It looks terrific and we enjoyed it, but want the incremental foundation first.

                  If I go the route of IEW first to get caught up and then CC, then it sounds like I do a years of IEW writing then move to MP Classical Comp. Does MP sell the IEW stage 1? I’m still confused by which IEW I start with. Is it the Structure and Style for Students (Level A, B, or C depending on grade level)? It looks like that is the newer version of Teaching Writing Style and Structure. Any guidance you can provide is appreciated!


                    Hello! I am just double checking with my IEW guru to make sure we give you the BEST advice for your sequence! I'll get back to you asap!


                      Hello Mollyslavik !
                      I did NOT forget you! My IEW guru is a teacher online, as I am, and.... it was a bit of a week last week!

                      Here is my information from her. You will definitely want to start with IEW A. Keep in mind that these new A-D sets are different from the purchasing option of just the curriculum alone (making them rather more expensive, just to prepare you). They are "revamped" if you will, offering many more resources for parents to be able to have their children in the program, without having to master it themselves first. The Level Curriculums 1-4, are just the books, as I understand. So, all said, be sure you pick the right curriculum to give yourself a good year.
                      The Set A-D are for ranges of grades, so you should work through Level A, most assuredly. They are cyclical, so feel free to do one book, then move on, as each "theme" or "skill" is returned to in every year of the books.

                      And just my personal advice now. From my teaching perspective and experience, beginning writing has nothing to do with writing. Im 3rd-5th, writing is NOT the important thing to master, but rather all the little tiny things that lead UP to writing: Complete sentences, commas, periods, sentence structure variety, spelling, homonyms, pencil grip, posture are the most vital tools to have in place before wanting to do more than put 2 or 3 sentences into an answer about the pyramids. A student well prepared with grammar and spelling will hop easily into any actual writing style instruction and avoid the tears and frustration of not being able to put his/her thoughts on paper legibly due to lack of letter (spelling & handwriting) word (grammar) and phrase (sentence) skills.

                      All said, it sounds like you all are off to a fantastic start for writing preparation using IEW, Grammar, and other resources to prepare your future writers. Please let me know how it is going!