Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Best Writing Curriculum for Elementary Schools

At this point in time we do not recommend any specific handwriting curriculum.  Our current effort is being placed on simply having cursive handwriting reinstated in the elementary curriculum since it has been omitted in the Common Core Curriculum.  

Ideally, children would focus on writing readiness in kindergarten by engaging in activities that would help develop both the gross and fine motor muscles and learn to hold a writing instrument using a proper grip. Beginning in first grade, children would learn to write using printed/manuscript  lettering. Emphasis would be placed on correct direction formation of these letters and legibility.  

Far too many educators today have no idea of proper writing posture: sitting at a desk, straight back, feet on the floor, paper slanted appropriately for a left- or right-handed writer. Instruction would be given in proper letter formations using standard acceptable directionality. Historically the most effective teaching method was the see it (teacher demonstrates proper letter formation), say it (simple words accompany the letter formation process), do it (the child writes the letter following the method demonstrated by the teacher).  

This method employs the three main methods of learning: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Enough time/practice should be given so that the writing process becomes automatic and the child then can focus on what is being written. Towards the end of the first grade most children will be proficient enough in printing that they can move on to cursive writing being taught during Grade Two.  

Following the teaching of cursive writing, children should be required to continue writing mainly in cursive and some printing for the remainder of the elementary school years. Emphasis would move towards continued legibility and increased speed in writing. By the end of eighth grade most children should have achieved competency in both manuscript printing and cursive writing.  During the high school years students would be permitted to choose to write either in cursive or printing.  Some handwriting should be required in high school as well,  possibly in both English and Math classes.

Edda Manley 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Response to a Campaign for Cursive letter

Thank you for contacting the California Department of Education (CDE) regarding penmanship. I appreciate that you have taken the time to share your perspective on this issue.
California’s standards were designed to encourage the highest achievement of every student by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level. The English-Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve were adopted by the California State Board of Education on November 14, 1997. You will find the standards on the CDE Content Standards Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/.
At every grade level, the English-Language Arts standards cover reading, writing, written and oral English language conventions, and listening and speaking. Grade by grade, the standards create a vision of a balanced and comprehensive language arts program, and penmanship is no exception. In particular, the content standards include penmanship as part of Writing Strategies. Emphasizing legible print and cursive writing, penmanship begins in kindergarten and extends through high school. In this way, penmanship is a well-defined thread that is woven throughout the document.
The following are just a few examples of English-Language Arts content standards that focus on penmanship skills throughout a California student's school career:
· Kindergarten Writing Strategies, Penmanship, 1.4: [Students] write uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet independently, attending to the form and proper spacing of the letters.
· Grade 4 Writing Strategies, Penmanship, 1.4: [Students] write fluidly and legibly in cursive or joined italic.
· Grades 9 and 10 Written and Oral English Language Conventions, Manuscript Form, 1.4: [Students] produce legible work that shows accurate spelling and correct use of the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.
If you have any additional questions, please contact the Literacy, History, and Arts Leadership Office by phone at 916-323-6269.

Again, thank you for contacting the CDE.


Tom Torlakson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction