Last year and the year before, I introduced my kids to Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) using the student CDs (SWSS) and introduced myself using the teacher CDs (TWSS). To be honest I had a hard time implementing the program based on lessons I made up myself. I don't feel that my kids had a stellar writing experience last year which was my fault not IEW's. The year was one of adjustments from our major move, so I vowed to make writing composition a priority for 2012-2013.
At a homeschool conference in August of 2012 I had a chance to look at the U.S. History based writing lessons by IEW in person. I thought it looked like a great plan to follow. I made an error that I hope you don't make. I purchased volume 2 because the time period matched where we were in the history for year cycle (year 4). My plan was to use this at home to teach both my 7th and 10th grader with.
The next day at the conference I spoke to a homeschool co-op that is not a homeschool co-op. There are no proper terms for this thing that it is. For people who want an exact term, I cannot provide one. This is the second co-op that is not a co-op that we have participated with, where the founders insist it is not a co-op but they don't have a name for what it is. Anyway, my point is that I wound up enrolling my 7th grader in the "not a co-op". Guess what they are using for writing? The very same IEW volume 2 curriculum. I was happy as I think IEW is a solid program.
The writing is actually overseen by me at home after an introduction to concepts made in the once-a-week class. My son is assigned one lesson a week. I am essentially the teacher since my son is not able to do all this work all by himself.
What I have learned is that volume 2 builds on volume 1. In my opinion it is a mistake to start off with volume 2 of US History Based Writing Lessons. For example in the beginning it is a whirlwind review of what they assume the kids learned last year in volume 1. In some lessons they say to use vocabulary words from volume 1, which we did not own. In some lessons it states to refer to the longer explanations of decorations in volume 1.
(Since my son is in a not-a-co-op he has to follow the rules or his grade will suffer. His deadlines are set. I can't make the guidelines be more lenient.)
I wound up purchasing volume 1 to use to help my 7th grader. I also decided that volume 1 is what my 10th grader should start off with.
So if you are interested in using IEW and feel you can't make up all the lessons yourself, consider one of their thematic units such as US History Based Writing Lessons. However start with volume 1 even if it is out of alignment with the history year you are studying right now. Don't start with volume 2 or you will feel like you are facing an uphill battle with each lesson.
Disclosure: Nothing to disclose other than the usual which you can read near the top of the sidebar on the right side of my blog.