About Me

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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2nd Grade Teacher at a school in Melbourne, Australia. My job: push kids to think. My passion: helping kids to tackle the life-long skill of searching for meaning, skills, answers and more questions.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Boring handwriting made... well... less boring!

We've all felt this way about handwriting.


 Ever endured a lengthy handwriting session, wrist aching, fingers strained, headache rapidly kicking off and boredom about to take the last of your soul?  I spent years at school 'enduring' such sessions.  I was told that they were Absolutely Necessary For Survival.  I was told that if I didn't have Amazing handwriting, I'd be the pariah, the despised.  I practised my letters, copying meaningless letters from the board. e e e e d d d d f f f f

I didn't know much about Zombies at that time - apart from what it must feel like to be the undead, facing a meaningless, uphill, BORING, task.      
Thanks to   http://www.myzombieapocalypsechosenfew.com/ for the cool pic.  Actually a pretty cool website for learning the tricks of writing a good zombie tale.


Nowadays, I teach handwriting!  Isn't that technically what Zombies do?  Become infected and then carry on infecting others with the same virus?  No need to be so shocked then.  Less judging, more reading.

Kev thinks handwriting is very important!
As mentioned in previous posts, I now teach at an IB school.  We deliver the Primary Years Program and it is FULL-ON!  There is so much thinking going on and so much to explore that we feel guilty when we get the kids to do handwriting tasks.  The Australian Government says it is important - so we teach handwriting.

 SO... with all of the excellent thinking going on each day, I decided to 'ShakeThingsUp' a little and make our handwriting work relate directly to the unit.  I know many thousands have done this before, but I thought it was worth mentioning for those who perhaps hadn't seen such a thing.  Note: It is a Work In Progress.

We've just finished a 'Who We Are' unit about cultural differences and relationships.  The kids took quite a while to 'get their heads around' what the main elements of a culture were.  They told us.  We discussed and they chose the words that you see below.  One day, the handwriting page changed:

Things I know:  

  • Yep... my handwriting is not exemplary.  
  • It IS a mish-mash of different styles.  It does show variations for certain letters.  
  • It can be confusing at times.  
  • Online fonts are probably close enough to perfect for me to use them.  
  • Kids may still attack these in a Zombie-Like state.
  • There are better ways to teach handwriting than this.
  • This is not a completed idea.  There are many changes that will come in time.
  • To keep the FEDS off my case, I may have to use only NSW font in future.
    And reflecting is very important!


  • The kids have shown a real enjoyment for this.
  • They have done a very good job with these tasks.
  • I've seen an improvement in overall writing.
  • These pages have started amazing discussions about styles and which is preferred by whom.
  • These pages have allowed the kids to reflect on learning.
  • The reflections spark even more fascinating discussions.
  • If kittens can reflect, so can 4th graders.

I've enjoyed creating these pages for the kids and they've noted and 'fed off' my enthusiasm.  My favourite part of these is when I ask the kids to explain or go further at the end of the page.  Sometimes I prompt kids with a because which they have to copy.  Sometimes they shock me and use their Big Elephants all by themselves! 
Are they bored still?  Am I infecting a future generation of Zombies?  The mini-potential-zombies say "NO!" and I am not inclined to doubt their sincerity.  Their application to the tasks tells me that I'm on the right track.  Onwards into the next unit we push.  I wonder where this handwriting idea will take off to next?

I've respectfully avoided ending this blog with a picture of Buzz Lightyear saying T.I.A.Beyond.
You can thank me in the comments below.  Cheers


Bruce Ferrington said...

Nice work Mr Black! Never boring, ever. Ask the kids.

Anonymous said...

If someone had taught me handwriting this way my handwriting might have been more legible! Great job, Mr B! MM

Mrs J said...

And some are taking your advice on handwriting styles and practising running writing all holidays! Can't stop the Mini from writing, writing, writing!! She loves her teacher!!

Jagsy said...

Why does Bruce get a picture with his post?

Nick said...

Blacky - you could ask your kids to clean each blade of grass on the oval with a toothbrush and they would happily do it. You'd probably give each blade a nickname and draw a humourous cartoon to remember the event!

Doomajarn said...

I feel that it is time to confess that I secretly wanted you dead when you kept winning the handwriting awards in yrs 4 and 5 and I was struggling to get my pen licence. Feels good to get that off my chest.
Perhaps my handwriting may have been legible if I had been taught this way - but then perhaps not... At least it would have been more fun and less terrifying.
Your beloved (and slightly better in most ways) twin brother.