Disclaimer: I have not used this program. I have read a few online reviews, I have thoroughly gone over the author's website and the IEW website, I have thoroughly read every sample I could find. This is my opinion based on all of that. Someone who has actually used, or even owned, the materials would be more qualified to review it. I would highly recommend that you look at both sites if this is something you are considering.
Excellence in Writing is planned to be a five year LA program. Years 1, 3 and 4 exist, years 2 and 5 are due out this fall. The levels are -- Intro to Lit, Lit & Composition, US, British, and World Lit.
What I like:
• Inexpensive -- under $30 per level, can use with everyone in the family. If you get it as an ebook, each child could have their own copy even.
• Each year includes 9 units of 4 weeks, with ONE "work" per unit (some of those would be a set of short stories), and the books include a lot of SL titles
• Each unit includes some short assignments, and one analytical essay (or similar paper)
• Each unit includes a lot of "context" works -- music, poetry, art, short biographical info, commentaries, videos, short historical accounts, etc. This is one of the most appealing parts of the program to me.
• Each level also has an honors track which gives an additional work per unit (another book by the same author, or a biography, or something similar) and an additional paper on that work. Plus the honors track has a research paper at the end.
• The book is meant to be done mostly independently, with the parent serving as a 'coach' or 'mentor' to the student. This means, among other things, that how much to read each day or week isn't spelled out, but she does go through stuff about how to figure out how to split up your workload at the beginning
• Her recommendations as to what to do before starting her program: IEW and/or Latin Centered Curriculum
What I don't like:
• There don't appear to be a ton of examples given... I really like For Such a Time as This for that.
• It isn't complete;
• Which also means, it hasn't been out long, so in another couple years, she will probably make a number of improvements. I'd rather start a program after it has been out a bit longer... and I'd be looking at getting the first one in a year, and the second one less than two years after it comes out... the rest of it doesn't concern me, really, as it will have been out quite awhile before we get there
• There is an assumption, it seems, that the child already understands the basics of how to write an essay and such. Connor would be starting this with only a year of doing IEW, and only have a few weeks of essay writing experience under his belt. But, I think I can adjust my expectations a bit and make this into an essay-writing course too
My "ideal" vision for high school would be to have them writing a reasonably significant paper of some sort most every week. With EIL, we'd have 1-2 per month, and I could use SL's LA to create another 1-2, and most likely use scouts for another 0-1... which would give me about what I want...
One thing I am trying to figure out is how much the units build on each other. Could I purchase the program, and jump around a bit? Do the units build on each other, or are they reasonably independent?
That would make it a lot easier to try to work in alongside our Sonlight reading, and if I could adjust things as we go a bit... hmmm....