Thursday, October 16, 2008
Handwriting and Slates
This year I've found that students are able to write quite legibly without the formal instruction (Handwriting Without Tears) I've provided over the past half dozen years.
Instead of putting a great deal of emphasis on letter formation, I trust students to find their own way to form the letters. With a bit of help from a friend or from me or my assistant, they can write quite legibly. No tears, either.
Using these slates, (which, yes, are part of the Handwriting Without Tears materials) we refocus attention on spelling words and sounding them out. This way students get practice applying writing skills in the meaningful context of a story.
I begint the lesson by telling a story, improvised on the spot. I pause from time to time and ask the students to write down a word used in the story. The words I ask them to write exemplify the spelling principles I've taught.
This early in the year, I'm helping students both hear the phonemes and segment them. Then we talk about the letter names and spell the word.
P.S. There are at least three great benefit of using slates and chalk:
(1) Little stubs of chalk force kids to use the conventional three-fingertip grip.
(2) The nature of the materials lends itself well to promoting responsibility and being careful. Slates break if dropped. We use a lovely process in distributing and collecting the slates the bits of chalk and the towel remnant erasers;
(3) There's less waste than using workbooks, pencils, and paper. These lessons are eco-friendly.