A ‘Sharing Best Practice’ post by Sarah Barker (English)
Reading time: 2 minutes
Teachers are expert at deciphering poor handwriting. Whether it be the last footsteps of a spider who has dragged its eight, ink-stained legs across the page of an exercise book, or the text that has taken leave of the lines to wander freely about the page in defiance of the laws of gravity. However, there are times when even the most skilled and experienced of teachers is left stumped by what a pupil has written.
Expressing oneself clearly in writing is a skill for life, not to mention the desire we have to ensure that the examiner will be able to read our pupils’ answers!
Improving handwriting, especially when a pupil is well into their teens is a challenge and requires real effort and concentration once writing habits have been formed.
Figure 1. A pupil’s handwriting BEFORE handwriting practice
One strategy promoted by the English Faculty to develop ‘automaticity’ in handwriting for pupils in all year groups, is to go back to basics and consciously and deliberately practise some of the basic building blocks of handwriting as an activity in its own right.
Separating out the task of improving handwriting from the challenge of writing a considered evaluation of an extract from Shakespeare, works to the benefit of both endeavours. Improve the physical skill and then apply it to the intellectual challenge.
Figure 2. A pupil’s handwriting AFTER handwriting practice
So, you might open an exercise book to see that a 15 year old boy spent the first few minutes of the lesson ‘writing’ lines of ‘mountains’ and ‘valleys’, followed by a line of breaking waves. Or in a 13 year old girl’s book lines of ‘a’s, ‘c’s and ‘d’s have been carefully scribed as the first part of a homework assignment. In this way the basics of a legible script are developed and when applied to the written work to follow, handwriting improves, the pupil feels a sense of pride and the teacher breathes a sigh of relief that they (the examiner, the college admissions tutor and the future employer) will be able to read what has been written.
Featured image: ‘Font, lettering’ by Victorian Lady on Pixabay. Licensed under CCO Public Domain