I realized the other day when I had some teacher friends visiting my classroom from another school that I have explained my handwriting practice/assessment so many times that I need to do a post on it! This way, I can say, "Oh, just check out my posting about handwriting; it has pictures of each level, explains how students work through the levels, how I grade them, and everything!" Of course, this is not a complete handwriting curriculum, nor is it perfect, but I think it's worth sharing as it might be of some benefit to teachers lost in the sea of fine motor skill ineptness that seems to be engulfing our youth!
Let me begin with Level One. It involves students writing the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog!" ten times, all in lower case, on handwriting paper, as shown above. Many adults know this sentence because it contains all the letters in the alphabet. Before we begin our literacy centers at the beginning of the year, I introduce all of the handwriting levels and explain my expectations for each level, as well as showing them the laminated examples they can reference throughout the year as they progress through the levels. When teaching lower grades, you will have to have extensive conversations about the "upper," "mid," and "lower" lines on handwriting paper, where to begin each letter, etc. As students approach third grade, they will need explicit instruction on writing in cursive. Luckily for me, by fourth grade they have been, for the most part, already introduced to both print and cursive and are just needing some polishing. I will do another posting on what I do for my handwriting interventions for students who struggle with fine motor skills.
When students can write Level One clearly and accurately, they advance on to Level Two. If they are still struggling with forming a few of the letters, I simply write out the letters they are struggling with on their page, have them watch as I write them and explain how to form them, and then have them trace and practice writing them a few dozen times. I have them do the same sort of thing if they are struggling with spacing between letters/words or if their print is too large or small, but I generally write the full sentence out for them while explaining and then have them do a few more sentences. Level Two is the exact same sentence, but this time they write it on lined paper.
The third level involves upper case letter writing on handwriting paper, as the students write: "THE FIVE BOXING WIZARDS JUMP QUICKLY?" This is, obviously, to practice their "caps lock" writing and a new form of punctuation, and it also includes every letter in the alphabet. Level Four, also shown below, is the same sentence but on regular lined paper (I get college and wide ruled paper donated to my classroom and have no preference).
So there you have it. It's an easy way to make handwriting a part of your literacy centers and students are completely independent while doing each level (I have them turn the level in to the inbox when they are done with it and go right on to the next level, and then I meet back with them to either congratulate them on a job well done, or to help them with the letters/words they're still struggling with. I track their progress with a simple chart, like the one shown below.)
How do you teach/practice/track/assess handwriting in your classroom? What have you found to be helpful in assisting struggling writers? How might I improve my centers, and what do you do help students learn to type, since that is more of the focus for the CCSS (even though writing legibly is still important!)? If you would like a PDF copy of all of the levels, just download it for FREE from my TeachersPayTeachers store or paste your email in the comments below. Leave a comment, share, repin this, visit http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Stephanie-Madison to support my efforts, and check back for more!