Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Freakish Handwriting Opinion

I'm a bit of an oddity when it comes to handwriting. It's typical to hear, "Did you type that?" "No," I reply. "That's my handwriting. I'm kind of a freak of nature." So as one can imagine, there's a place for handwriting in my classroom, and I happen to have some opinions about it (go figure) which is why this post exists.

I've argued with myself about whether to share my point of view for some time now. My issue is something so many teachers do, maybe even you. I hate for anyone to think I'm critically watching and judging and noting. I'm not. Honestly, maybe the point I'm about to make is one only I would consider, because remember, I'm a freak of handwriting nature. And truthfully, in the big scheme of things, my opinion here is really not all that earth shatteringly important, but I'm still going to share it. :)

So without further ado...

I don't believe in asking my students to write on paper with more than the single, bottom line unless I'm expecting them to use all the lines appropriately. Those extra lines serve a purpose. If not used appropriately, they're simply in the way and possibly even complicating the writing process, especially for our struggling writers. Expecting students to write with all lines but allowing them to ignore them, also provides students opportunities to form bad habits. What then happens when it really is time to use those lines correctly? I believe this could create some confusion for students as to purpose and teacher expectations. What are these lines really for? When do I pay attention to them and when don't I?  

Most of the time when my writers write, I'm much more interested in their ideas than how they use the lines on the paper, so I only provide them with the bottom line only. (See picture below.) Why muddy the waters? 

There is a time and place to know how to write with more than one line, and then and only then, will my kids see extra lines on their papers and be required to use them and use them correctly. (As you see below.) Otherwise, I'm a one-line teacher and my kids are one-line writers.

Agree or disagree, the question goes back to this: Why do we do what we do? Even the little things require intentionality. 

Thank you for letting me share my freakish handwriting opinions with you today. I hope they were worth your while.

P.S. If you're interested in my recently published book for teachers, look here for information about how to purchase it. I'd love to share it with you!

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  1. Wow! You and I have so many similarities! I'm starting my 22nd year of first grade. I agree with you about handwriting. Most writing is done on single line when the purpose is putting ideas on paper. The three lines are reserved for letter formation instruction and practice. What do you use for writing curriculum and do you explicitly teach letter formation (whole class/small group)?

    1. Olivepug, my district bought us Lucy Calkins' writing units of study. I do explicitly teach letter formation at the beginning of the year to the whole group. Great questions. :)

  2. From one handwriting freak to another.....I have always used only one line. On a rare occasion I have given a top line and bottom line for a few kiddos. I totally agree with your thoughts about the lines getting in the way! Letter sizing will improve as letter formation becomes more natural. Does that make sense?

    1. Lisa, makes complete sense. My district uses Handwriting Without Tears, so I eventually use their two-line system but not very often.

  3. Totally agree! You've explained it perfectly:)

  4. I was interviewing for my first job and was asked if I had the kids write on lines or just use blank space and I knew that the person asking probably had an opinion on the subject so I said that I do both. :) Being a lefty, it's so much harder for me to model good handwriting-it takes me like 15 minutes to write my morning message every morning-but I do want them to see the proper way to do it.