Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cleaning Up Handwriting

I'm going to talk about a little thing today that is quite an issue in all of our classrooms.  Handwriting.  I have a love-hate relationship with it...  as in I just hate(d) it.  Coming from First and now in Second, I always thought that there was NO way I could correct bad handwriting.  They've been doing it for so long, right?!  Well, that all changed when I attended a conference at the beginning of the year on WRITING.  Yep.  WRITING.  Not handwriting.

Guess what.  Handwriting is to writing as math fact fluency is to math... or sight word recognition is to reading.  In order to be a good writer, you have to be a fluent hand-writer!  A huge lightbulb went off when I was learning/relearning some important facts of just handwriting!  I had to present at a faculty meeting afterwards and this was the handout I created.

Handwriting is a motor memory skill.  It's something that is automatic and they could do with their eyes closed!  {Do you find that your students are sitting and thinking about the right way to form a letter?!  Or can they write fluently-and legibly?}

What does that mean?  Well, I'm still not one to think that there is one right way to form letters.  (i.e. Zaner Bloser, D'Nealian, etc..) But I do believe that all should be able to write the letter in whatever way your district requires.  Kinds need lots of practice with fine motor skills, so even copying a letter that it's "the way you want them too" is still practicing handwriting and fine motor skills.

You can relearn how to do things, it just takes some practice.  Think of things you had to learn to do differently--possibly in your teaching.  Just like us, kids can "relearn" handwriting.  Teaching handwriting is also very active-ON YOU!  The final product isn't what we are to be looking for-but rather how they are forming their letters and the only way you can help is by running around.  {Now, this is one area I'm still struggling with-cause, I really don't have time to "teach" handwriting---but keep reading to see how I'm now fitting it in!}

How I'm managing:
I created pages that take very little time to complete, yet is giving students time to practice their letters.  {I actually have 3 different sized print.  Large-kindergarten/beginning grade 1; medium: first/beginning of second; small: second/beginning of third}  I told my students that I was very frustrated with their handwriting and that we are now going to CLEAN UP THEIR HANDWRITING!

What students will do:
See it.  It's important to see the letter on the page written correctly or at the very least-neatly!
*Trace it.  Students trace it.
*Copy it.  Students will copy the letter above.  I have dots for where their pencil should start the letter.
*In these 2 sections, students are encouraged to erase the complete letter if they make a mistake-NOT just PART of the letter that doesn't look right.  We want them to form the letter correctly from the start.

~Hide it.  Students will cover the top part of their page, so they cannot see the letter at all.  They will write their letter as many times it will fit.  Afterwards they will circle their best letter.  They will put a box around their worst-AND FIX IT.  NO ERASING HAPPENS IN THIS SECTION.  This is important for ME to see how they are forming the letters.  This is how I am making up for that time I don't have to run around and watch everyone making their letters.  I can easily see where letters were started.

~Close your eyes.  This is my students' favorite part.  I have students place their pencil point down towards the left of the page at the bottom and will tell them how many letters to make.  Then they will CLOSE THEIR EYES and make the letter!  This is where the motor memory comes into practice.

You do not need to have a specific program to do these activities.  However, I needed something to help me in the classroom, so I have created these packs if you are interested.

{This pack is perfect for Kindergarten or beginning writers! and possibly beginning of first for a review}

    {This pack would be great for end of first grade; beginning of second grade for a review}

{This would be great for 2nd grade-beginning of 3rd for review!}

{OR all 3 in one bundle!}

What's Next?!  I plan on making a D'Neilian and a cursive pack just like these.  You will also find numbers in the near future and I plan on creating "review" packs that will be sight words!  Right now I will have the 3 packs bundled with intentions of adding the numbers and sight words.  (Cursive will have it's own pack as will D'Neilian,  once I find a good font to use for those)

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