Thursday, December 9, 2010

Adapting Handwriting Booklets for Individual Students

A few years ago our county developed handwriting booklets for kindergarten and first grade students.  The booklets are basically okay for most students, yet many of the students who receive OT in the schools will benefit from fewer repetitions of letters and eliminating the laborious sentence copying that is on some pages.

For a student I've recently begun working with in first grade, I added a "bookmark" to her handwriting book.  The bookmark is a clear page protector that has a list of tips to read on one side and a photo of the student's pencil grasp on the other side.  The tips are for the classroom aide, to remind her of how to present and supervise handwriting practice.  The photo is for the aide and the student, to remind them of a functional handwriting grasp to use when writing.  Here's hoping this adapted handwriting practice will encourage the student to write her best during brief practice sessions and improve her legibility over time.

Here are the tips:

 Student demonstrates to adult how to hold pencil correctly.

 Adult asks, “Where do we start our letters?” and student answers, “At the top!”  (Thank you, HWT!*)

 If it’s a round letter, like the letter “O” the adult asks, “Where do we start our letters?” and the student answers, “At 12 o’clock,” or “At the top of the clock.”

 Round letters are formed counterclockwise.

 Point out which line of the letter should be made first and have the student “draw” that line in the air, using their index finger, in the correct direction. Do this for each part of the letter before picking up a pencil.

 Keep your eyes on the student’s paper while they do the following step. Be ready to help them form the letters in the correct direction.

 On the page, have the students trace the guide letters and then write two letters on their own. (We want them to make two well-formed letters, then stop.) Do not trace words or sentences until later in the year.

 Avoid erasing, just cross out a poorly-made letter.

*Handwriting Without Tears has a great song to sing to remind students about where to start their letters.


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