Our goal here is to provide you with information and tools that can assist with identification of specific needs so that you and your student can set specific goals for improvement of handwriting skills. There are two major processes to address. The physical approach to using the tools called POSITION SKILLS is the first process. The second process relates legibility to six process sub skills - FORM, SLANT, SIZE, SPACING, SMOOTHNESS OR RHYTHM and CONTROL.Evidence Based Instruction
We offer below a number of tools to help you with needs identification. When legibility and movement suffer, we need to find specific things that are causing the problems in order to affect change. When you select a specific need the student can work thoughtfully to improve with a focused effort in both practice exercises and during the applied work demanded each day.
This page offers two printable web pages that you can use to make specific process observations . There are also several files available in portable document format for download. These PDF files offer you tools for needs assessment and coaching that are not available elsewhere.
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Our program is designed for evidence based learning. The curriculum provides for testing at the end of each unit of instruction. The "model tests" provided in the student book are designed to present challenges with the forms mastered during the unit.
Regular use of samples provides a means for building self esteem by demonstration of progress for each individual. The pupil compares his or her earlier sample with the current one rather than comparing with the work of another student who may be more mature. The sample demonstration is also helpful to teachers who must give grades for handwriting. It is easy to see who is working to improve. The "worst writer" in the class may show the most progress when you look at the samples in this way. Please don't compare John to Alice. Compare John's current work with his previous sample.
When using the model tests in our student texts, please recognize that part of the challenge is to space the letters or words properly. The samples for primary levels are designed to fit a page that is 8.5" wide with 0.5" spaces between the lines. The spacing challenge is eliminated if you provide a page that is wider than 8.5" or lines that are closer together.
Grades 3-8 ( For improvement of cursive skills.)
In addition to unit test samples, we recommend that a Term Progress Sample be collected for each student in grades 3 through 8. We offer special paper for that process. It provides space at the top for a sample at the beginning of the year and space at the bottom of the page for a final sample. This one piece of paper demonstrates the degree of improvement achieved during the year.
We also offer Continuous Progress Paper. It is arranged to allow the student to write four samples on two pages. If you duplex these pages (front and back), it is easy to use the samples for comparison of progress over time.. An evaluation matrix is included with each sample to assist with selection of specific goals for improving legibility. These special papers have been used in many school districts for decades.
If you would like to print Term Progress and Continuous Progress paper for use with your students download the pdf file. It will open with, and print from, Acrobat Reader.
Click here to download the PDF file for Term Progress and Continuous Progress paper.
Additional Materials - all levels:
A set of Skill Posters makes correlation to applied work easy. Download the pdf file and print six posters. Choosing specific goals for improvement and correlating those goals into applied work goes a long way toward getting the transfer of learning we seek. Click on the links below to download the posters pdf file.
here to downloadSkill Posters for Vertical Print.
Click here to downloadSkill Posters for Slant Print.
Click here to downloadSkill Posters Cursive
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Individual Needs Identification
During a handwriting task the child is executing a process involving a number of factors that are all related. The process controls the product. Pencil grip, paper holding and sitting position play a much bigger role than many people realize. Then too, there is the movement sequence that creates each letter - the dynamics of the movement as well as the sequence of moves used to build each form is important. We have tried to provide tools here that will guide you to make and record observations of the child's handwriting process. Print the Ergonomics Form and Sequence Study Form by clicking on the links. Although the Sequence Study Form deals with print letterforms, it should be completed for cursive levels also. The information relates to perception of cursive movement patterns as well as the printing process.Ergonomics And Sequence Study Forms
Interpretation of these observations can be a bit sticky but here are some basic guidelines.
- A tight grip evidenced by pressure on the pencil makes it more difficult for the child to learn how to use the various muscle groups in a relaxed fluent process. Writer's cramp is real and does come from a poor grip habit.
- When gripping thumb and fingers cause the writing hand to cover the writing space, it is much more difficult for the child to learn how to process from left to right with fluency. Learning to move fluently involves learning how to look ahead of the pencil to pre plan the movements for spacing letters in words and words in sentences. The writing hand should be below the writing space.
- Paper position and sitting posture can cause the same kind of interference with learning. Holding the paper in writing position (slanting the paper) should allow the writing arm to enter the page from the bottom and therefore allow the writing hand to be under the image area. The arm moves the pencil sideways to create sentences. Fingers handle vertical movements of the pencil. Learning how to create an under curve or over curve fluently for cursive demands that all muscle groups learn how to move in smooth cooperation.
- Print letters should be built by making strokes top-down and building left-to right to best support the reading pattern of our language. The dynamic information in motor patterns has been shown to play a role in decoding. Please work through the readiness presentation linked to our Information Directory page.
- Although cursive letters can be produced without joining, the forms are designed to be joined. The traces produced by joining movements control the letter shape, parts proportion, slope and spacing - the qualities of the product that make it more or less legible. Cursive movements are lateral which means the arm must be involved to write a word or sentence fluently. Writing at a desk places restrictions on the direction of arm movement. That is the reason it is critical that a child learn how to position the writing paper so that the arm can move laterally along the lines on the page.
The links below will present printable forms that will allow you to record ergonomic and perceptual information. The Sequence Study is important for interpretation of the pupil perception of movement patterns. The Ergonomics Form provides information about the physical habits that directly affect the child's ability to use the correct movements with the correct muscle groups.Ergonomics Form (Page set-up = portrait.)
Observe the student as samples are written. Select the pencil grip position picture that is closest to that used by the pupil in question. Select the paper-arm-hand position picture that best represents the process used by the student. Better still, take several pictures of your own by capturing the desk, paper and arms from above the pupil, from the front and from each side. Use your selections or your photos to establish a more objective measure of the current position skill habit and rate the degree of need. The chart below will guide you through an assessment process.Sequence Study Form (Page set-up = portrait.)
Click here to download a Position Skill Rating Chart. (PDF File)
Drawing conclusions about the dynamics of movement is difficult without video or a digitizer. The movements happen quickly and it is easy to miss the sequence unless you observe and record in a planned sequence. Use copies of the Sequence form to make specific observations during the pupil's production of the following lowercase print letters: t, b, h, m, a, d, g, s, o.Back To Top
Make several copies. Collect at least three samples of each of the target letters. The Sequence Study Form provides large versions of the letters above in an "outline" style. Use it as you observe the production of each of the target letters. Note the first movement, it's start point and direction. Mark the form to show the child's start point on each of the letters and indicate the direction of movement for the subsequent strokes with arrows and numbers.
This observation process is much easier if you have the student write on unlined paper or a chalkboard and instruct the child to make each of the letters as large as possible. Collect samples of each letter at least three times. Don't react to the production process or try to coach at this point. Focus upon recording the process being applied. Don't be surprised if the recorded process differs from one iteration to the next. This is a fairly common result when testing students who are having problems with language skill development. It demonstrates a lack of an internal model or motor pattern for the production process. It may be difficult, but hold back on your urge to coach until after the collection process is completed. Translate your data to the child's work by marking start points in green and stop points in red. You can then use this to show how the child's process differs from the process you are trying to teach.
You can also use the form by asking the child to mark the start point of each letter with a green crayon. It is likely best practice to make the observations above first. Then use the form this way to collect additional information. If the child is not able to decide on a start point to mark green, it is an indication that the motor pattern does not have stored information. The child can't choose a start point because he or she does not perceive the movements when looking at the picture of the letter. That is one goal of movement based instruction. When movement sequences are internalized, the student will breeze through this test because he or she will be able to "see" movement in the static pictures on the page. The goal is to "install" movement sequences that support the pattern of our language. We read top-down, left-to-right.
Our training programs will provide you with much more information including special tools for evaluation and coaching.
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