Tag Archives: Writing

“C” is for Copy Book

writingThe downside to the information age is the decrease in fine motor skills used for writing.

It is a problem I am seeing more often as laptops and tablets replace the use of pad and pen.  An increasing number of students are unable to form legible letters of the alphabet or write numbers clearly enough, so they may read them thirty seconds later.

Some students going into Year 8 are incapable of writing between the lines of a paper or forming numbers within the squares of a quad ruled page.  Students in Year 5 are unable to produce or read their name in cursive script.  These students are struggling with the fine motor skills required to help them to learn.

I have recently finished reading an article by Maria Konnikova, “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades?”, which suggests evidence is emerging of a greater link between handwriting and learning.  It appears children learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand.

Learning is a complicated process.  When we reproduce letters, or anything else, by hand a plan is required before executing the action.  The result is highly variable in that it will not exactly represent the original.  Learning to identify variable representations is important to decoding letters when reading.

The research by Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at University of Washington, indicated that when a child who composed text by hand (either printing or cursive) “They not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on the keyboard, but expressed more ideas.”

There is also a suggestion of different neuro-pathways being developed in the brain when a child progresses on from printing to cursive writing.

Research at the University of California has reported laboratory and real-world studies of students learning better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard.

I ask you “Is it time to throw away the pen and paper and adopt the technology of the keyboard?”  Was it time to give up walking when we invented the car?

My suggestion to help build a better student is to let your pre-school use colouring books and pencils, jigsaw puzzles and building blocks to help develop fine motor skills. 

When they are at school continue to use the old-fashioned copy book, so your student may practise and learn to form letters and numbers.  Encourage them to practise twenty minutes a day until they are proficient with writing the printed word. 

Allow this to develop into the practice of cursive writing so they may be able to record classroom notes in secondary school, lecture notes at university or record the minutes of a business meeting.

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“The Brave Bilby” by Harry (aged 8)

bilbyOne day, an extremely brave bilby determinedly dug a burrow in front of a fox. The black and brown bilby kept digging and digging and so did the fox but the bilby was too hard to catch. After two hours, the bilby’s burrow suddenly reached the end and, although the bilby didn’t know it, he had reached the edge of the earth. He made a quick move and covered his head with his ears and then he flew off into space. That day the brave bilby was the first astronaut bilby in the world.

Harry, aged 8             

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“Evad and Adam” by Cohen (aged 9)

HorseWhen the sun was just setting, Evad, the horsefly felt a tingling in his wings because it happened every sunset. Within seconds, he turned into a magical, black horse with red eyes and wings. Every night Evad flew over the city looking for a boy called Adam who was trapped in a nasty orphanage. As he was about to land, he spotted the orphanage and he flew down to it and there was Adam, sleeping on a dirty old blanket as Evad peeked through the window. Evad gently taped on the window and Adam woke up and the boy leapt on the horse’s back and Evad felt a tingle on his back as the sun began to rise and they rose into the sunrise.

Cohen, aged 9 

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“Green Devil’s Adventure” by Oliver (aged 8)

Green DevilAfter Green Devil found the key to the Witherdragon portal, he jumped through it, where he saw four large poles with beacons flashing red.  Green Devil was a big, angry devil who could stand until his enemy was dead.  In the floating world, knights that could teleport waited to attack whoever entered their world so when Green Devil entered, he dug a hole to hide in.  He dug so far that when he got to the centre of the floating world, he collected a crystal that looked like an egg.  He threw the crystal to the beacons and it exploded and all the knights fell into the hole.

Oliver aged 8. 

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 “The Farm Horse” by Dardo (aged 9) 

Plough HorseOn one rainy day in the middle of Brisbane, Joseph my school friend, bought two acres of farm land.  The very next day he was out in the field sowing pumpkin seeds in the damp soil when he spotted an enormous prancing horse running across the seeds he had just sowed. He was very happy because the structure of the equestrian creature was perfect for pulling the plough which meant he could do more in less time. To his surprise the horse was already very experienced with pulling the plough and so they were ready to do a day’s labour together. With the help of his mighty horse my school friend became a successful farmer.

Dardo (aged 9)

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“The Karate Master & The Undead Pirates” by Alex (aged 8)

PirateOne stormy night in the heart of the Antarctic Ocean, a Japanese karate master was yelling out “Half-Flesh Pirates!”  Then he boarded the wretched pirate ship and attacked the un-dead scavengers.  Soon the pirates were destroyed and their ship was blown into the Bear Cave where they were eaten by the zombie bear.  The Japanese karate master returned to train his young karate class.

Alex (aged 8)

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“Framed” by Emlyn (aged 11)

hot-springsIt was Friday, October 21, 2016 when two youthful men who were happily relaxing in the depths of the bubbling basalt-lava rock pools in Hilo in the Big Island of Hawaii, heard gunshots.  Sib, who was raised in New Orleans, and Oliver, a famous Russian boxer, soon found themselves in colossal trouble when they were thrown into a truck heading off to jail.   Five minutes into their journey, on the edge of a steep cliff, the back wheels were shot, a bomb blew the rear doors off the truck and they were hauled out of captivity by two mysterious men.  The strangers took them to a cave inside the volcano because they thought they were rescuing the people shooting at the rock pools.  Sib and Oliver wondered if they could get out alive.

Emlyn (aged 11)

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“Ninja Cat” by Georgia (aged 7)

ninja-catLong ago Ninja Cat lived in a big trash can in the middle of a sunny day but at night she went out to fight.  She was a maroon cat in a little black suit who loved to do ninja stuff and when she grew up her dreams came true.  She had a call from a little girl who was stuck in a house that was falling down.  Ninja Cat got there in a dash and flew in the air and grabbed the little girl.  Ninja Cat sometimes missed her old trash can but not that day.

Georgie (aged 7)

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“C” is for Copy Book

writingThe downside to the information age is the decrease in fine motor skills used for writing.

This is a problem I am seeing more often as laptops and tablets replace the use of pad and pen.  An increasing number of students are unable to form legible letters of the alphabet or write numbers clearly enough so they may read them thirty seconds later.

Some students going into Year 8 are incapable of writing between the lines of a paper or forming numbers within the squares of a quad ruled page.  Students in Year 5 are unable to produce or read their name in cursive script.  These students are struggling with the fine motor skills required to help them to learn.

I have recently finished reading an article by Maria Konnikova, “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades?”, which suggests evidence is emerging of a greater link between handwriting and learning.  It appears children learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand.

Learning is a complicated process.  When we reproduce letters, or anything else, by hand a plan is required before executing the action.  The end result is highly variable in that it will not exactly represent the original.  Learning to identify variable representations is important to decoding letters when reading.

The research by Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at University of Washington, indicated that when a child who composed text by hand (either printing or cursive) “They not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on the keyboard, but expressed more ideas.”

There is also a suggestion of different neuro-pathways being developed in the brain when a child progresses on from printing to cursive writing.

Research at the University of California has reported laboratory and real-world studies of students learning better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard.

I ask you “Is it time to throw away the pen and paper and adopt the technology of the keyboard?”  Was it time to give up walking when we invented the car?

My suggestion to help build a better student is to continue to use the old fashioned copy book so your student may practise and learn to form letters and numbers.  Encourage them to practise twenty minutes a day until they are proficient with writing the printed word.  Allow this to develop into the practice of cursive writing so they may be able to record classroom notes in secondary school, lecture notes at university or record the minutes of a business meeting.

 

 

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