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Cursive curriculum continues

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kathy Knust
Although Indiana Academic State standards no longer mandates teaching cursive writing to K-12 students, Clay Community Schools (CCS) will continue to teach it locally.

"I've read articles from other media sources stating that if you walk into an elementary school you won't see kids working on their loops; you'll see them keyboarding," Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Knust told The Brazil Times. "I want to make it clear that that is not completely accurate for most schools, certainly not for our schools."

Knust wants to reassure area citizens CCS teachers will continue to give cursive writing instruction for the 2011-12 school year.

"The amount of time spent teaching cursive writing has decreased over time anyways, but to say that we are going to completely replace the block of time used for cursive writing with a block of keyboarding is inaccurate," Knust said. "Clay Community Schools are above average when it comes to technological resources, but it would still be very difficult to accommodate all students with a lab computer and get all the requirements in. It's just not feasible."

Knust also explained the state's goal is to get all students proficient in keyboarding and move all standardized tests to online formats.

"Most labs are already tied up doing testing and providing designated classroom lab time. Most schools would find requiring all students to keyboard everyday in place of cursive to be very difficult," Knust told The Brazil Times.

New state standards in the Indiana Common Core Curriculum, formerly known as No Child Left Behind Act, for second-fourth-grades do not include cursive writing.

However, the state has also given local schools the option to make their own decisions regarding whether or not to continue teaching the literary art.

The Indiana state Director of Curriculum and Instruction Schauna Findlay sent school officials around the state a memo regarding curriculum changes.

"Indiana's Academic Standards for English Language Arts include cursive writing in the third-grade. The Common Core State Standards do not include cursive writing at all. Instead, students are expected to become proficient with keyboarding skills," the document reads. "Schools may decide to continue to teach cursive as a local standard, or they may decide to stop teaching cursive next year."

Knust added, "I imagine that if you are part of a school that has to choose between teaching your students reading, writing and mathematics or cursive writing, you are going to choose teaching the core subjects, but we are not in that position," Knust stated.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, the standards are:

* Second-grade -- "With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers,"

* Third-grade -- "With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboard skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others," and

* Fourth-grade -- "With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting."

Knust expressed concerns regarding the specificity of these standards.

"The goals are not specific enough. What is the expectation for the end of the year?" Knust asked. "We need clear expectations."

She added CCS teachers and administrators have discussed their beliefs, studied the research regarding cursive writing and realistically examined if one more thing can be added to instructional time without the removal of another.

"The reality is that teaching cursive writing to mastery level is very time consuming," Knust said. "And with computers and other forms of technology being commonplace today proper penmanship is on decline. We now live in a world where e-mails have long replaced written letters and texts are quickly replacing handwritten notes."

However, Knust said CCS does not believe cursive writing should be eliminated from curriculum.

"It is the goal of Clay Community Schools to continue to introduce students to cursive writing and make certain they can properly sign their names in cursive and read hand-written documents," Knust told The Brazil Times.

She also said she wants to make sure students still have time for other types of developmental instruction.

"We don't want to take away the opportunity for the students to explore, problem solve, work on projects and do research utilizing technology," Knust said. "Those things are also very important aspects of a learning environment."

More information on curriculum changes and other educational news is available at https://learningconnection.doe.in.gov/lo....

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Call me from the "old school" or whatever you choose to call me, but I still believe that knowing how to write cursive is still very important. It may not be used by everyone anymore, but it's just one of the things that should be taught so that somewhere down the road, it just might be helpful to know how ! Just possibly, computers might not be available every minute of your life. Thank you for continuing the teaching!

-- Posted by JaniLou on Tue, Jul 19, 2011, at 10:57 PM

I cannot imagine not being able to pick up a pen and write. Just being able to sign your name? Really?! I remember learning to write and looking at my sheet of neat cursive writing made me feel like I accomplished something. Maybe I am oldschool but I still think cursive writing is a very important skill. What about spelling? Are you going to rely on computer spellcheck as well?

-- Posted by Jolly on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 8:50 AM

I have to agree with the above comments.

Though this has nothing to do with cursive writing, looking at some of the kids' spelling these days makes me sick to my stomach. With texting and the abbreviated wording it is common place for them to go through their daily lives thinking that is how words should be spelled. NOT!

Kudos to CCSC for not taking cursive writing out of the curriculum.

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 9:46 AM

I am sure spelling has been made worse by texting but I have also found that those who were taught phonics did much better than those who were not. Hopefully, they have not completely eliminated phonics from the curriculum. As for the cursive writing, everyone should still know how to sign their name!

-- Posted by indianamama on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 10:19 AM

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

Research shows: the fastest, most legible handwriters avoid cursive -- joining only some letters, not all; making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, using print-like shapes for letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citation on request.) Such fast, legible writing presumably requires an active brain -- therefore, it should surprise no one that the study on brain activity (mentioned in the current article) found advantages only for handwriting overall (as compared with typing) -- not for cursive as compared with other styles.

Reading cursive still matters -- learning this takes just 30-60 minutes, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old who knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

When following the rules doesn't work as well as breaking them, it's time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive -- in Indiana and 48 other states -- brings great opportunities to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that actually approaches what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula that teach handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)

A final note: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)

Kate Gladstone -- CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works

Director, the World Handwriting Contest

Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad


-- Posted by KateGladstone on Wed, Jul 20, 2011, at 1:38 PM

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