Whilst on prac my classroom teacher challenged me to lead a lesson in handwriting. My initial thoughts were that this would be easy as I consider my own handwriting to be quite neat. However with handwriting on the brain, I quickly noticed how different my style of handwriting was in comparison to the style that the classroom teacher would demonstrate. Thus I began to do some research...
Despite the growing influence of technology handwriting is still an essential skill for students to master. The National English Curriculum states that students should learn correct posture and pencil grip, how each letter is constructed including where to start and the direction to follow, and to write letters clearly in a script of consistent size.The NSW K-6 English Syllabus contains similar information for teachers, telling us that when teaching students about handwriting we need to include correct pencil grip and body position, the appropriate and correct formation of letters in the alphabet, and writing letters in uniform size.
In accordance with the NSW K-6 English Syllabus students are currently being taught to hand write in the NSW Foundation style. In kindergarten my students should have developed and practised the basic skills of handwriting, such as pencil grip, good posture, and the correct handwriting movements that form the lower and upper case letters. By mid to late stage one, the students should be familiar with the correct formation of most letters of the alphabet and write clearly in straight lines from left to right using letters of uniform size, shape and spacing.
Immediately I knew that my classroom teacher was working towards developing these skills with her students. All of their work books contain lines which the students must write between to promote uniformity of the size of the letters and I had observed many students placing their fingers between words to ensure spacing when writing.
Armed with this information, I thought about my year one students and the problems that I had encountered with their handwriting. The first things that came to mind were the formation of letters and pencil grip. Frequently students complain about having a sore hand and arm from writing by lunch time, and after learning myself about the correct formation of letters I could immediately identify this as an area needed for improvement. Thus I planned my lesson around these two skills.
Learning handwriting requires much modelling and demonstration by the teacher therefor lessons are largely to do with direct instruction (Pinsker and King 2001). Direct instruction usually refers to lessons in which the teacher explains, demonstrates skills and then has the students practise (Killen 2007). So that I could demonstrate effectively I made a smartboard resource (can be found in the useful links and resources) that included pages from the students' workbooks. With this I modelled what I required from the students and then they could repeat this in their own workbooks. I also found an excellent short You Tube video on correct pencil grip and had the students re- model this in front of me.
My lesson went for around half an hour and followed a model put forward by Pinsker and King (2001). The first five minutes included a finger warm up to strengthen and prepare for the fine motor skills required for handwriting. The next five minutes included the You tube video on correct pencil grip and an introduction of the letter R. The remaining twenty minutes involved the students practising in their work books, keeping in mind the correct pencil grip, and then concluding with the days most improved hand writer presenting their work to the class.
In the end my lesson went really well and I got positive feedback from my colleague teacher. As I reflected upon my lesson I thought that through it I demonstrated Element 4.1.5 Use a range of teaching strategies and resources including ICT and other technologies to foster interest and support learning and Element 3.1.1 Demonstrate the capacity to identify and articulate clear and appropriate learning goals in lesson preparation from the NSW Institute of Teachers Professional Teaching Standards. Take a look at these samples I took from my students' workbooks...
ACARA (2010). The Australian Curriculum: English. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au
Board of Studies (2007). English K-6 Syllabus. Sydney: NSW Board of Studies. http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au
Killen, R. (2007). Using direct instruction as a teaching strategy. In Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice, (4th ed.), (pp 101- 124). Thomson Social Science Press.
NSW Institute of Teachers. (2006). Professional teaching standards, Retrieved 4 February, 2009 from http://nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/Main-Professional-Teaching-Standards.html
Pinsker, J. & King, S. M. (2001). Targeting handwriting year 1: Student book. Glebe: Jane Pinsker and Blake Publishing
Pinsker, J. & King, S. M. (2001). Targeting handwriting year 1: Teacher resource. Glebe: Jane Pinsker and Blake Publishing