Another problem for cursive in schools: Common Core is ‘silent’ on it, according to the Alliance for Excellence in Education. That’s like the Fat Lady warming up, but not sure when she’ll be performing.
Studies show one in three children struggle with handwriting. I’d guess more, seeing it first hand as a teacher. Sound bad? Consider another study shows that one in five parents say they last penned a letter more than a year ago.
Let’s look at the facts. Students hand-write badly, and don’t use it much when they grow up (think about yourself. How often do you write a long hand letter?). Really, why is handwriting important in this day of keyboards, PDAs, smart phones, spellcheck, word processing? I start students on MS Word in second grade, about the same time their teacher is beginning cursive. Teach kids the rudiments and turn them over to the tech teacher for keyboarding.
I searched for reasons why I was wrong. Here’s what I found:
- 1 in 10 Americans are endangered by the poor handwriting of physicians.
- citizens miss out on $95,000,000 in tax refunds because the taxman can’t read their handwriting
- Poor handwriting costs businesses $200,000,000 in time and money that result in confused and inefficient employees, phone calls made to wrong numbers, and letters delivered to incorrect addresses.
BROWNSBURG, Ind., Aug. 28 (UPI) —
Officials in an Indiana school district said cursive writing lessons will be scaled down this year in favor of computer keyboarding.
Blogs do that. The students get to interact with their favorite toy–a computer–and go online for legitimate purposes. They get to see their thoughts in print. What could be more appealing. Blogs and online forums are a teachers dream.
The problem is how teachers use these tools. Like every good skill, blogging and online writing requires a bit of explanation. Start with these simple rules:
- Be concise in a blog. Readers don’t go to blogs to read a novel. They want something that will help them in, say, a minute (that seems to be the average time people spend on a post)
- Be pithy. Readers don’t want to waste even that sixty seconds. They may get tricked the first time by a snazzy title, but not again. So, students must put their thoughts together in a cogent and concise arrangement.
- Be knowledgeable. There are so many bloggers out there, students must come across as intelligent on their topic and smart enough to discuss it in that one minute the reader gives them. How do they do that?
- Watch grammar and spelling.
- Pick a topic they know about. If it’s an opinion, pick something they have ideas about.
- Don’t tear down the other guy’s opinion as a way to promote their own. This sort of mean-spiritedness turns people off.
For more great reasons why blogs are good for kids, visit Educational Blogging Wiki–including helping them find their voice and empower their maturing identities.
This holiday letter can be as simple (for 2nd graders) or sophisticated (middle school) as your students can handle. There are a gamut of skills–
- pictures (from the internet, from clip art, from a separate file folder on your school server)
- different fonts, font colors, font sizes
I’ve included a grading rubric to guide students in accomplishing as much as they can. Start with the basics (text, a border, some pictures) and add more skills as students get used to the early ones: (more…)
I wrote a post on how Blogs and Wikis make students better writers–teachers too for that matter–and wanted to follow it up with how tweeting improves writing. Then I found Jennifer’s summary. It pretty well covers what I’d say:
- You learn to be concise
- You learn to be focused
- You have time to check for grammar and spelling