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  1. 1. CHAPTER TEN Assessing and Teaching Handwriting and Written Expression
  2. 4. Handwriting Problems <ul><li>Major objectives of instruction in handwriting are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Numerous factors contribute to handwriting difficulties: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>motor problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>faulty visual perception of letters and words </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>poor visual memory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>poor instruction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of motivation </li></ul></ul>
  3. 5. Handwriting Problems (cont’d) <ul><li>Students show a variety of handwriting problems: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>slowness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>incorrect directionality of letters and numbers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>too much or too little slant </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>spacing difficulty </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>messiness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>inability to stay on a horizontal line </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>illegible letters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>too much or too little pencil pressure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mirror writing </li></ul></ul>
  4. 6. Formal Handwriting Assessments <ul><li>Basic School Skills Inventory–Third Edition </li></ul><ul><li>Brigance Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills—II </li></ul><ul><li>Test of Handwriting Skills—Revised </li></ul>
  5. 7. Informal Handwriting Assessments <ul><li>While observing the student during handwriting activities, the teacher should note possible problem areas by answering the following questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the student grip the pencil correctly and in a comfortable and flexible manner? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the student’s paper in the proper position on the writing surface? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the student sit correctly when writing, or is the head too close or too far away from the paper? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the student consistently write with the same hand? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the student appear extremely frustrated, nervous, or emotional when writing? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the student have a negative attitude toward handwriting and appear bored and disruptive? </li></ul></ul>
  6. 8. Analyzing the Student’s Writing Samples for Error Patterns <ul><li>Letter formation </li></ul><ul><li>Letter size, proportion, alignment </li></ul><ul><li>Spacing </li></ul><ul><li>Line quality </li></ul><ul><li>Slant </li></ul><ul><li>Rate </li></ul>
  7. 9. Teaching Handwriting Skills <ul><li>The teacher should avoid the following handwriting instructional errors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>unsupervised handwriting practice while skills are being formed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of immediate feedback to correct errors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of emphasis on student analysis of errors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>failure to provide close-range models of correct letter formation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>repeated drill of both correct and incorrect letter production </li></ul></ul>
  8. 10. Readiness Skills <ul><li>Writing requires muscular control, eye–hand coordination, and visual discrimination. </li></ul><ul><li>Before beginning handwriting instruction, the student should be able to do the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perform hand movements such as up-down, left-right, and forward-back </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trace geometric shapes and dotted lines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connect dots on paper </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draw a horizontal line from left to right </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draw a vertical line from top to bottom and bottom to top </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draw a backward circle, a curved line, and a forward circle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draw slanted lines vertically </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copy simple designs and shapes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Name letters and discern likenesses and differences in letter forms </li></ul></ul>
  9. 11. During Handwriting Instruction <ul><li>The student should be sitting in a comfortable chair, with the lower back touching the back of the seat and both feet on the floor. </li></ul><ul><li>The desk or table should be at a height that allows the student to place forearms on the writing surface without discomfort. </li></ul><ul><li>The nonwriting hand holds the writing paper in place. To prevent elbow bumping, left-handers should be seated in a left-hand desk chair or along the outside at a work table. </li></ul><ul><li>The pencil should be held lightly in the triangle formed by the thumb and the first two fingers, and the hand should rest lightly on its outer edge. </li></ul>
  10. 12. During Handwriting Instruction (cont’d) <ul><li>The pencil should be held about an inch above its point by right-handers; the pencil end should point toward the right shoulder. </li></ul><ul><li>Left-handers should hold the pencil about 1¼ inches from its writing point; the pencil end should point toward the left elbow. </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial pencil grips (available from Zaner-Bloser) or masking tape can be placed on the pencil to make it easier to hold. </li></ul><ul><li>Students should be encouraged to use a reasonably comfortable grip to avoid fatigue or discomfort when writing for an extended period of time. </li></ul>
  11. 13. Manuscript Writing <ul><li>Usually is taught in kindergarten and first grade. </li></ul><ul><li>Is based entirely on the basic shapes of circles and straight lines. </li></ul><ul><li>Handwriting instruction in kindergarten usually focuses on teaching children to recognize and form uppercase and lowercase letters and to write their names and other common words. </li></ul><ul><li>Students in first grade focus on forming uppercase and lowercase letters, spacing between letters, and developing skills related to legibility. </li></ul>
  12. 14. Students with Handwriting Problems <ul><li>Graham and Harris (2005) recommend that young students with handwriting problems should be provided with supplemental instruction. </li></ul><ul><li>Four-step sequence that focuses on writing lowercase letters accurately and fluently. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alphabet warm-up . The students practice naming, matching, and sequencing alphabet letters. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alphabet practice . The students practice writing unit letters in isolation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alphabet rockets . The students repeatedly write a sentence containing unit letters during a 3-minute time frame, and the students record the number of letters written. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alphabet fun . The teacher models how to make a unit letter in a funny way. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 15. Transitional Writing <ul><li>The transition from manuscript to cursive writing typically occurs during the second or third grade, after the student has mastered manuscript letters; however, because of individual differences in motor skills and levels of interest in cursive writing, some students are introduced to cursive writing in first or second grade, while other students are given additional time to refine their manuscript skills and learn cursive writing in third or fourth grade. </li></ul>
  14. 16. Cursive Writing <ul><li>Cursive writing instruction usually begins in the second or third grade, depending upon the skill development of the individual student. In cursive writing the strokes are connected, and fine motor coordination is required to perform many precise movements. </li></ul>
  15. 17. Typewriting and Keyboarding <ul><li>The typewriter or computer may be a viable alternative for students who have severe fine motor problems or who write very slowly. </li></ul>
  16. 18. Readiness Activities <ul><li>Use body exercises to practice movements such as up and down, left and right, and forward and backward. </li></ul><ul><li>Have the student use scissors to cut out shapes or large letter forms. </li></ul><ul><li>Coloring activities also can help the student develop muscle control and learn how to use a writing instrument and stay within lines. </li></ul><ul><li>In seatwork activities, have the student practice making circles by drawing balls, balloons, funny faces, coins, and apples. </li></ul>
  17. 19. Readiness Activities (cont’d) <ul><li>To help develop fine motor skills and strengthen hand and finger muscles, have the student participate in finger painting and clay modeling activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Have the student connect dots in dot-to-dot activities to form geometric shapes or pictures. </li></ul><ul><li>Use chalkboard activities for exercises in copying, dot-to-dot, and completing incomplete figures. </li></ul><ul><li>Academic skills also can be practiced through the use of a chalkboard. A student’s lack of handwriting development should not be allowed to impede the completion of academic tasks. </li></ul>
  18. 20. Readiness Activities (cont’d) <ul><li>Have the student practice writing movements in a tray filled with a layer of sand, salt, or cornmeal. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide tracing activities by making dark-line figures (such as shapes, letters, numbers, and objects) on white paper and covering the paper with a sheet of onionskin on which the student can trace. </li></ul><ul><li>Make stencils and templates of shapes, numbers, and letters from plastic, styrofoam, or cardboard. </li></ul><ul><li>To help develop visual discrimination, give the student pictures containing hidden uppercase and lowercase manuscript letters. </li></ul>
  19. 21. Manuscript Writing Activities <ul><li>Give the student an individual copy of the alphabet and numbers 0 to 9 to use at a desk. </li></ul><ul><li>Have the student form manuscript letters and numbers by drawing between the double lines of outlined letters. </li></ul><ul><li>Use paper with squares to help the student maintain correct letter size and proportion. </li></ul><ul><li>Have the student form manuscript letters and numbers by completing slash-to-slash and dot-to-dot activities </li></ul>
  20. 22. Manuscript Writing Activities (cont’d) <ul><li>On pieces of oaktag, print uppercase letters and their corresponding lowercase letters and cut the pair to form puzzle pieces. </li></ul><ul><li>Use arrows to provide the student with direction clues in forming specific letters. </li></ul><ul><li>Use color dots to indicate the starting and stopping positions for each letter stroke. </li></ul><ul><li>Have the student who reverses letters (such as b and d ) form an association to facilitate memory of the direction of the letters. For all reversal problems, encourage the student to refer to an alphabet taped to the desk before writing the letter. </li></ul>
  21. 23. Manuscript Writing Activities (cont’d) <ul><li>Have the student announce strokes while writing certain letters. </li></ul><ul><li>On balsa wood, print manuscript letters and numbers and use a razor-sharp knife to groove out the wood deep enough for a pencil to follow. </li></ul><ul><li>For the student who has difficulty with letter size and staying on the baseline, make a cardboard frame with a rectangular piece cut out of the frame. </li></ul><ul><li>For the student who has difficulty with spacing between letters within a single word and between words themselves, make an underlay sheet. </li></ul>
  22. 24. Manuscript Writing Activities (cont’d) <ul><li>An additional method for the student who has difficulty remembering to space between words involves giving the student a two-leaded pencil that has red on one end and blue on the other end. </li></ul><ul><li>If words run together, have the student place the index finger of the nonwriting hand at the end of each word to allow space for the next word. </li></ul>
  23. 25. Cursive Writing Activities <ul><li>To help the student see the similarity of manuscript and cursive letters, make a chart that has manuscript and corresponding cursive letters written next to each other. </li></ul><ul><li>Make dot-to-dot cursive letters and have the student form the letter by connecting the dots. </li></ul><ul><li>Have the student trace a cursive letter several times. </li></ul><ul><li>Gradually reduce the cues to only the first stroke and have the student finish forming the letter. </li></ul><ul><li>Use arrows and color-coded dots to show direction of the stroke and beginning and ending points. </li></ul>
  24. 26. Cursive Writing Activities (cont’d) <ul><li>Have the student practice letters with similar movement patterns at the same time (e.g., the beginning stroke for the cursive lowercase letters b, h, l, f, k , and e is curve up and loop left). </li></ul><ul><li>The student can say the strokes of the letters while writing (e.g., c —“curve up and over, stop; trace back, down around; turn out”). </li></ul><ul><li>After the student has learned the correct letter formation of cursive writing, provide practice activities that involve meaningful writing. For example, on the chalkboard write an informative letter to parents and have the student copy it, giving special attention to good handwriting. </li></ul>
  25. 27. Commercial Handwriting Programs <ul><li>Cursive Writing Program </li></ul><ul><li>D’Nealian Handwriting </li></ul><ul><li>Handwriting Without Tears </li></ul><ul><li>Zaner-Bloser Handwriting </li></ul>
  26. 28. Written Expression Skills <ul><li>Problems in written expression may not be diagnosed until the upper elementary school years, when the student is required to use the various language components in written composition and emphasis is placed upon refining writing skills. However, difficulties in written expression may be as prevalent as reading disabilities, and efforts should be made to identify students earlier. </li></ul>
  27. 29. Written Expression Skills (cont’d) <ul><li>In a clinical study, Mayes and Calhoun (2007) found that a learning disability in written expression was the most common form of a learning disability identified. </li></ul>
  28. 30. Written Expression Skills (cont’d) <ul><li>Written expression is the most complex language arts skill and is based on listening, talking, handwriting, reading, and spelling. Thus, it generally is not stressed in instructional programs for learners with mild disabilities. Teachers tend instead to focus on the skills prerequisite to written expression. However, as the student acquires those prerequisite skills, instruction in written expression is warranted. </li></ul>
  29. 31. Written Expression Skills (cont’d) <ul><li>Dockrell, Lindsay, Connelly, and Mackie (2007) found that students with specific language impairments also struggle with writing. Specifically, at age 8 and 10 years old, students with language impairments produce short texts with poor sentence structure and inadequate organization and presentation of ideas. </li></ul>
  30. 32. Written Expression Skills (cont’d) <ul><li>In general, written language instruction for students with mild disabilities can be improved by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>increasing the time allocated for instruction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>teaching written language as an integrated process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>coordinating written language activities with different content areas </li></ul></ul>
  31. 33. Assessment of Written Expression Skills <ul><li>Formal Written Expression Assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Metropolitan Achievement Tests—Eighth Edition: Writing Test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peabody Individual Achievement Test—Revised </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stanford Writing Assessment Program—Third Edition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TerraNova, Third Edition </li></ul></ul>
  32. 34. Assessment of Written Expression Skills <ul><li>Informal Written Expression Assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fluency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Syntax </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vocabulary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Profile of Components </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Curriculum-Based Measurement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portfolio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Observations and Interviews </li></ul></ul>
  33. 35. Teaching Written Expression Skills <ul><li>Creative Writing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal expression of thoughts and experiences in a unique manner, as in poetry, story writing, and personal narratives. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Functional Writing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focuses on conveying information in a structured form, such as writing answers to chapter questions, social and business letters, invitations, reports and essays, or minutes of a meeting. </li></ul></ul>
  34. 36. Expository Writing <ul><li>Three types of expository writing include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>persuasive writing, which presents a point of view to a specific audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>descriptive writing, which describes experiences about people, places, things, and thoughts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>compare-and-contrast compositions, which highlight similarities and differences among two or more people, places, things, ideas, or experiences </li></ul></ul>
  35. 37. Teaching Written Expression Skills <ul><li>The process approach stresses meaning first and then skills in the context of meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Students work through five writing stages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prewriting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drafting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Editing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publishing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Tompkins, 2009) </li></ul></ul>
  36. 38. Process Approach (cont’d) <ul><li>Isaacson (2007) discusses four characteristics of the process approach in which the teacher introduces the student to the entire process of writing, from initial idea generation to editing of the final draft: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The process should be modeled.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The process can be collaborative. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The process can be prompted.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The process should become self-initiated and self-monitored. </li></ul></ul>
  37. 39. Instructional Recommendations <ul><li>Graham and Harris (1988) offer 10 instructional recommendations for developing an effective writing program for students with written expression difficulty: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allocate time for writing instruction.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expose students to a broad range of writing tasks.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a social climate conducive to writing development. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrate writing with other academic subjects.  </li></ul></ul>
  38. 40. 10 instructional recommendations: (cont’d) <ul><ul><li>Aid students in developing the processes central to effective writing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Automatize skills for getting language onto paper. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Help students develop explicit knowledge about the characteristics of good writing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Help students develop the skills and abilities to carry out more sophisticated composing processes.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Help students develop goals for improving their written products. Avoid instructional practices that do not improve students’ writing performances.  </li></ul></ul>
  39. 41. Preventing Writing Difficulties <ul><li>The following six principles are designed to prevent writing difficulties as well as to build writing skills (Graham, Harris, & Larsen, 2001): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide effective writing instruction.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tailor writing instruction to meet the individual needs of students.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intervene early to provide a coherent and sustained effort to improve writing skills. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expect that each student will learn to write. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify and address academic and nonacademic roadblocks to writing and school success. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employ technological tools that improve writing performance.  </li></ul></ul>
  40. 42. Writing Instruction <ul><li>The acronym PENS helps the student remember the steps to sentence writing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>P — Pick a sentence type and formula. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E — Explore words to fit the formula. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>N — Note the words. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>S — Search for verbs and subjects, and check. Schumaker and Sheldon (1998, 1999) </li></ul></ul>
  41. 43. Writing Instruction (cont’d) <ul><li>The use of a first-letter mnemonic cues the student how to complete the writing task independently: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>P — Pick </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>L — List </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E — Evaluate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A — Activate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>S — Supply </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E — End and evaluate Welch (1992) </li></ul></ul>
  42. 44. Writing Instruction (cont’d) <ul><li>To cue the student to detect four kinds of common errors, the teacher can introduce COPS questions to be used as an error-monitoring strategy: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>C —Have I capitalized the first word and proper nouns? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>O —How is the overall appearance? (Look at spacing, legibility, indention of paragraphs, neatness, and complete sentences.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>P —Have I put in commas, semicolons, and end punctuation ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>S —Have I spelled all the words correctly? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Schumaker, Nolan, & Deshler, 1985 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  43. 45. Writing Instruction for Middle School Students <ul><li>DARE is a strategy to help students compose appropriate opinion papers, while SPACE assists students in creating narratives. DARE is a first-letter mnemonic: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>D— Develop a position statement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A— Add supporting arguments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>R— Report and refute counter arguments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E— End with a strong conclusion. </li></ul></ul>
  44. 46. Writing Instruction for Middle School Students (cont’d) <ul><li>SPACE, which also is a first letter-mnemonic, prompts students to remember the elements necessary in a fictional narrative: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>S— Setting elements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>P— Problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A— Actions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C— Consequences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E— Emotions </li></ul></ul>
  45. 47. Writing Instruction for Middle School Students (cont’d) <ul><li>Teaching theme writing through the use of the acronym TOWER provides a structured approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>T — Think (e.g., about content such as title, major subtopics, and details) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>O — Organize it (i.e., topics and details). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>W — Write a draft. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E — Evaluate it (i.e., look for errors by using COPS). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>R — Refine it. (Schumaker, 2003) </li></ul></ul>
  46. 48. Writing Instruction <ul><li>Strategy using the acronym HOW to improve the appearance of written work and remind the student how the paper should look: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>H — Heading </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>O — Organized </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>W — Written neatly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Archer and Gleason (2002) </li></ul></ul>
  47. 49. Writing Instruction <ul><li>Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) instruction is an evidence-based practice that combines effective strategy instruction with effective instruction for teaching students to self-regulate learning. </li></ul><ul><li>(Baker, Chard, Ketterlin-Geller, Apichatabutra, & Doabler, 2009) </li></ul>
  48. 50. Stages in the Development of Strategy Learning <ul><li>Mason (2009) specifies the following stages in the development of strategy learning: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. Develop background knowledge . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Discuss it . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. Model it . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4. Memorize it . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5. Practice with guidance . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6. Perform independently . </li></ul></ul>
  49. 51. Written Expression Activities <ul><li>Fluency and Syntax Development Activities </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary Development Activities </li></ul><ul><li>Structure Development Activities </li></ul><ul><li>Content Development Activities </li></ul>
  50. 52. Commercial Written Expression Programs <ul><li>Expressive Writing 1; Expressive Writing 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Language Roundup </li></ul><ul><li>Reasoning and Writing </li></ul><ul><li>Step Up to Writing </li></ul>
  51. 53. Computer Software Programs <ul><li>Grammar </li></ul><ul><li>Grammar for the Real World </li></ul><ul><li>Punctuation Rules </li></ul><ul><li>Write On! Plus </li></ul>