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Deconstructing Handwriting

Considering the recent push toward digital composition, including Common Core Standards that require students to be proficient in typing but not cursive writing, now doesn't seem like the best time to be putting a new handwriting program on the market. But according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, one retired special education teacher is finishing up piloting a K-5 handwriting curriculum with a new take on letter formation. And at least one Minnesota district has signed on to use it.

Historically, students have learned to write letters by repeatedly practicing them, often in alphabetical order. The process does not always click for students with learning disabilities, who tend to struggle with legibility and letter orientation. Mary Beckman's ez Write program teaches students eight basic pencil strokes that are the foundation for writing most letters and numbers. For instance, the c stroke is used in making lowercase c, a, and d, as well as the numbers 0 and 9. According to the company's website, developing muscle memory for the basic strokes and then learning letters in these groupings can make letter production more automatic and prevent letter reversals.

Is this a new concept for you elementary teachers? In my experience, reversals are among the stickiest skills to unteach. Do you think a program that deconstructs letter production in this way could be the answer for some struggling students?

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