Monthly Archives: February 2016

Endangered species?

cursive writing

This is a re-post, as I believe in its importance….

The above image of the alphabet is something I hardly see taught anymore—writing in cursive style. The kids that I work with  daily overwhelmingly do not posses the handwriting skills that had been drilled into me as an elementary student. Taking this practice away because of keyboards is like taking away math computation because of calculators. Therefore, the over-emphasis on electronics and social make writing by hand seem obsolete.

But the good news is—it’s NOT. Being equipped with this skills helps the kids have a better handle on written expression, and critical thinking, skills which extend beyond the classroom.

I’m told that we “don’t have time” because the focus of the day is on literacy and math primarily, and something like cursive handwriting skills are considered hardly necessary.

I’m making the case for families to help out more at home by:
investing ust 10-15 minutes a day to help your child in proper letter
formation, and the best posture for comfortable, more legible handwriting.

It doesn’t have to be  Palmer Method perfect, but with consistent practice, patience, and gentle praise along the way, there can be a difference made.


The REAL Reason


The above image show WHY I go out every day and teach such a wide variety of students every week—to know that I can  reach even one or two is awesome goal.

English Language Arts–Urban Classroom

Today, I covered a 2nd grade classroom during their language arts time. Now, these kids know me , so we’re past the “getting acquainted” stage. The teacher left their activity on using new words in original, oral  sentences.

Our first word was “police”. One student said, without missing a beat—“I saw that ‘police’ shoot somebody.”  Just like that. An 8 year old knows about shooting just like watching Niktoons everyday. Similar sentences followed from two other students. We finally decided on something a bit more Officer Friendly-type.

The next example used the word “life.”  Several hands went up, and the one student I picked said forlornly, “I have a bad ‘life’.” I felt compelled to ask her why. She responded matter-of-fact, “That’s because somebody’s always shooting and fighting by my house, and I don’t sleep.”

Sad, sad commentary, isn’t it? Where is the lightheartedness of early childhood? Of course, nothing is TV perfect, but when a violence lifestyle is accepted as norm in our yung, what does the future hold?


Endangered Species?

The above image shows something that I’m seeing less and less when I  go to work in my various classrooms.

The overwhelming majority of students above 3rd grade.  that I work with rely on printing rather than cursive. In fact, many middle-schoolers have no concept of handwriting—the “old-fashioned way.”

Sure, it’s the Digital/Social Media Age, and everyone texts, or types. That’s not a bad thing, of course. But the tradition of forming letters is wonderful in training for manual dexterity and a workout for the brain. When I ask a bunch of seventh-graders to write their essays rather than print, they look at me as if I’ve asked for them to chisel their answers in stone.

“We don’t know how to do that,” is a typical answer. And, they’re absolutely right. Time-crunched teachers don’t have spaces in the daily schedule for this. Besides, the heavy reliance on electronics and printers makes pen-to-paper seem obsolete. Along with that, the home/family component doesn’t place strong emphasis as it did when I was a kid.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.This past January 23 was National Handwriting Day, and here’s a few hacks to put a little more cursive in our lives:

1.S-L-O-W Down. It’s not a race to the finish. Sometimes, when we take the time to form the letters, you’ll see more sccuess and legibility.

2. Lighten up. Release the grip on the writing instrument. Often, when there’s too much pressure, the outcome isn’t what you want. Relax your grip as you write, and see amarked difference.

3. Practice. It’s as simple as that. Just like soccer practice, you can’t get good until you do it. But don’t try overkill—a few minutes’ practice daily will show improvement over time. The trick is to give yourself a chance, and be patient.

4. Get in line. You don’t have to shy away from lined paper—it can be your best friend. Choose from wide-ruled or narrower college rule, but the lines help keep you “on track.” Think of it like training wheels for a bike. Once you get the hang of it, lined paper won’t always be a necessity.