Prairie View

Monday, October 30, 2017

Quote for the Day 10/27/17

In Language Arts 10 Class--

Me:  No one missed any on the Roots test [the weekly quiz on Greek and Latin roots].

Cedric:  Must be all that cursive writing.


I have indeed begun to require that the sentence combining exercise in the Grammar Ultimate lessons be done in cursive--two sentences each day on the first three days of the week.  Before I started that, I handed out a recent article that asserted that cursive writing improves brain function--and created a vocabulary and spelling word list from the article.  Until then, I almost never saw cursive writing from any student.  It turns out that some of them actually hardly know how to write cursive, so I handed out a third-grade-style cursive letter chart to tape inside their books. 

I learned from Joel that one school of thought suggests that cursive is actually easier to master than manuscript writing and should be initiated at the very beginning of learning to write.  Hilda is less convinced; having to deal with a perfectionist four-year-old who is intent on learning to write is her evidence.  My take on that is that nearly all four-year-olds will find any kind of writing challenging.  I would minimize it as much as possible and move on with other easier skills.  Fine motor skills will develop with maturity and play. 

Writing manuscript letters can be part of learning to recognize them when they encounter them in published materials.  This can be done, however, written very large on plain paper, without lines.  Many multi-sensory ways can work too.  The children's favorite  might be drawing letters in jello powder sprinkled on a cookie sheet.  At the end of the exercise, they get to lick their fingers.   Teaching sanitation would obviously not be a major part of using this method. 

Picking up and placing the pencil properly multiple times to create some letters is part of the complication of manuscript writing, with multiple starting points for the various letters.  Each lower-case cursive letter starts on the baseline.  Having to make straight lines and round circles in manuscript writing also requires precision not needed in cursive writing.

Because the first few years of handwriting practice is prime time for developing the skill, some  educators believe that it makes no sense to shift from manuscript to cursive style in third grade as usually happens when both are taught. Generally starting with cursive and continuing throughout school results in far more beautiful cursive writing than does learning a new handwriting style midstream. 

Everyone agrees that handwriting develops a very different part of the brain than does keyboarding, so handwriting should never be completely neglected. 

The fastest way to write is apparently a combination of cursive and manuscript writing.  I assume that many students will continue to do this when cursive is not required. 

I have not implemented this yet this year, but I also hope to provide a chance to practice a legible cursive signature.  Students are fond of declaring that a signature need not be legible.  If it's too standard, it's too easy to copy.  I counter this logic by noting that if you sign a guest register for a wedding or funeral, for example, no one has any durable evidence that you were present if your signature cannot be deciphered. 

For better or worse, for one brief exercise during this year in my classroom, students will all have a chance to develop their cursive skills.  I think it's possible that students studied more for the last Roots quiz than they sometimes do, and it helped that fewer words appeared on the quiz--thus explaining the improved scores this week.  But I'm happy to give cursive writing part of the credit.  This effort needs all the help it can get.


  • I have been involved in tutoring a student with reading disabilities. One of the small pieces of the puzzle in giving them tools to overcome their disability is to teach them to write in cursive. As a fifth grader, he went from writing like a beginner to beautiful cursive handwriting. I know his attitude also made a huge difference.

    By Blogger Dorcas Byler, at 10/31/2017  

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