10 Benefits of Teaching Cursive Handwriting
1.Relative ease in introducing cursive penmanship to preschoolers.
2.Prevents reversals and confusion of letters
3.Enhances spelling ability
4.Develops internal control systems that can be used as tool for learning
5.Potential for errors are diminished
6.Improved reading skills
7.Enforces the skills for patterns in reading and writing
8. Prevents erratic spaces between letters and words
9. Helps Left Handed Children
10.Use as a tool to put thoughts on paper quickly and easily
We should teach our children ‘Cursive First, Print Later’.
Source: Samuel L. Blumenfield, "How Should We Teach Our Children to Write? Cursive First, Print Later!"
Todd Rose's talk keeps coming back to me (http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-Myth-of-Average-Todd-Rose-a). A cookie cutter system could fail to fit anyone and a more personalised learning is a must if we are to engage and inspire the full range of minds on our classrooms.
Part of the reason I moved on from the teaching profession is knowing I was not supporting everyone enough of the time, which is what most of even the most outstanding teachers feel at some point. It was also having taught the same things 4 times a year for over 12 years, as it was beginning to feel REALLY inefficient! (save that for another post!).
Anyway... I'm increasingly seeing the real difference we can make using tech. We made a start on Personalised learning in our study apps and the letters range is going interesting places. Dinosaur letters and Spooky letters is catering to those around the edges as well as the more neurotypical. Cursive writing is helpful to all students but especially dyslexics and left handed children.
Children develop writing skills at enormously different rates so we created two themes; Dinosaur and Spooky to allow accommodate differences in interests, development and age.
If we can build learning tools which support the neurodiverse as well as the neurotypical then madebyeducators is heading in the right direction!
Available once through Apple Review (1-11 days??!)
I was not a happy bunny when I realised that my update had rendered my phone effectively useless as anything other than a phone! I could no longer type on it, which meant using my own brain to remember stuff and I was REALLY out of practice. A long call to apple and a reboot later and normality was restored but I didn't get the fuss,...... at first!
It took me a while to really appreciate the flat colours (making our own apps drop shadows now look really try hard!), and the misty window look. The camera was a bit of a clincher as it was just amazing, and I do like a handy spirit level! Then I eventually noticed the floating icons and zoom opening, not really necessary but makes it a much more dynamic sensory experience with potential to merge into an app more smoothly (if it makes you feel dizzy you can turn it off!).
Given that I'm particularly interested in the potential of technology to help those with learning and sensory differences this is all really exciting, and that's before I realised how incredibly powerful the new iphone 5 series are. Apple still have vision, and once again its something that we need to harness for education as its looking really interesting.http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/29/apple-iphone-5s-ios7-secret-weapon
'Dinosaur letters', was developed in part to support students who learn 'whole' words rather than phonetically. The strategy of teaching cursive writing from the beginning in reception is, in part to help students with dyslexia. Cursive writing for children with dyslexia is useful as it involves more 'muscle memory', greater flow and avoids having to re-learn letters in cursive.
A surprise hit in our cursive app was the letter blending section where children can run their finger along the word allowing them to hear the blend. It's one of the things we felt our own children needed and we will definitely develop upon in our next cursive app for the 5+ age.
Big thanks to Dr John Potter of the London knowledge lab for letting me rant about the madebyeducators projects over coffee this lunchtime. I shamelessly ransacked his brain over a range of topics and he was most generous with his time and ideas.
We want to make educational resources that really work and that means research. My research methods skills are a little outdated and addled with years of teaching
A level psychology, so really not good enough for publication level research.
The good Dr pointed me towards several of his colleagues who would be amazing to
talk to and the MRes at ioe as an opening to a Doctorate.
To conduct research of any value I need further training, further training might be a distraction to 'getting stuff done'. 'Getting stuff done', has been the joy of
leaving teaching so I am loathed to go back to jumping through hoops, but the
MRes does sound rather hands on so it might be the way forward?
Plus the members of the knowledge lab are doing such exciting research it is really tempting to be involved, I would learn so much.
Given the rapid pace of change in the world of Ed tech 4 years can be a whole evolution in technology. A publication into the use of analytics in education or personalised learning on ipads in the classroom might be rather old hat by then.
My mantra of the moment has been to 'go where the energy is', I have energy to ensure we make useful resources, to explore the potential of mobile learning and a hankering to write up and formalise our project. But to give our resources the thorough 'shakedown', that I would want for the madebyeducators project would involve rigorous testing. This is one area in the app project that won't be solved by 'just googling it!'.
Flurry is an app analytics tool, and its great! I have previously raved about the potential of something like this for schools for learning analytics.
We have started to get a decent amount of data on our educational apps and it's really encouraging. 71% of those who have downloaded dinosaur letters are still using it, and using it several times a day two weeks later. Imagine if you could get analytics on students understanding so easily, you could then really focus on the higher skills!
Our study apps can tell us which questions students are finding harder, imagine having that feedback so easily in the classroom, being able to direct the students attention so precisely!
The less scientific feedback from parents has been useful, it looks nice, but not slick, which parents notice! Interestingly the younger kids have no comprehension of the latest fashions in slick graphics and just love it's character, a bit of a dilemma there as its the parents that download, need to think on that one!.
The best thing is that we know we are promoting and working on something with core value and that is a great start.
Thank you to Southwark Council, Mr B in particular for organising 'Let's talk about Autism', conference yesterday. All of the speakers were amazing but the best speakers for autism are often those who can see through the world through neuro-diverse eyes.
Ros Blackburn is on the autistic spectrum and while not ice skating or trampolining she lectures around the country giving insight, hope and inspiration to those in the world of ASD. I would strongly recommend that schools invite Ros in to speak to their teachers, particularly schools with these new ASD units. I can't think of anything that would have greater impact when attempting to move school cultures than seeing Ros in full flow.
Her key themes involved loving quotes form her parents 'there is not such thing as can't, its can not yet!', and a powerful plea to push autistic children and not to compound their difficulties by sheltering them from the world.
This was followed by a mothers personal story which dramatically illustrated the impact of early intervention and then Dr John Biddulph closed with his own personal and professional story of Aspergers. His insight and celebration of autism as a variation on the rich diversity of human kind (definitely not to be confused with autistic people being an alien species!), was clear, profound and very funny.
If the aim of the day was to shift cultures and inspire hope and ambition for people on the spectrum then it did its job incredibly well. I hope others get to hear these speakers too!
I love app developers..... because they remind me of teachers. They are creative (yes, teaching is a creative profession!), obsessive and are largely still in shock that they are getting paid for something they would really do for free.
Each tend to involve personalities which can focus in on a task and drive towards that goal. This is however is where some differences arise!
I have met lots of developers who chew on a problem and love to create some original efficient thing of coding beauty, this then gets applied and sometimes becomes an educational resource on an app store, most likely for the under 5's.
Teachers are drilled (and rightly so!), from the first day of their PGCE into identifying and meeting learning objectives, teachers then 'chew', on this problem and attempt to create a lesson of pedagogical beauty. For the developer this is a blooming nightmare, it really is the long way around and is rarely tackled.
So what is the solution, how can we make the most from this dynamic educational world we are now in?
Collaboration, REAL collaboration, with developers working alongside outstanding schools and listening, fine tuning, redeveloping and sharing. There is no get rich quick, long term collaborative commitment between ed and tech will ensure that educational resources really are MadeByEducators.
I was fortunate enough to spend a year working in Thailand teaching English as a foreign language around the Millennium. It was a long time ago but I have been back since and have seen the countries rapid progress.
I have visited schools in rural areas in northern Thailand and very rural Laos, and can that this ipad scheme is no gimmick, it is going to level the playing field!
Teaching in Thai state schools can be incredibly strict with enormous class sizes (I often taught 40 in a class). This means the teachers need to keep a tight rein and often use very traditional ridged teaching techniques.
Its not just the children who will broaden their horizons through tech, there is enormous potential for Thai teachers to do on-line courses too.
The Thai love of fun and of things that are 'cool', make this a truly excellent marriage, and the best 'field experiment', in the effectiveness of tech in learning that I can think of. A year from now I'll be keeping an eye out for some solid data!
The digital divide had never been more apparent to me than at a wedding over the summer. It was a 'teachers', wedding, a school librarian met a History teacher while working at an international school abroad... a really lovely wedding fittingly at The Globe, London! A good cross section of the teaching world,... and all a bit tipsy!
Between courses (Elizabethan food!), the 'what do you do', thing came up a lot and honesty I tried to keep it brief, but I am a bit obsessed!
The response from the private /international teachers was interest and keen networking, they 'got it' and saw it as another means of supporting their students, state school teachers were a little more lost.
Many state primary schools are picking up the pad, I would think very few Secondary schools have an ipad in sight and they are falling further and further behind.
Research results are still not in on the effectiveness of this mode of teaching but seeing my own children develop rapidly using touch screen devices made enough of an impression on me to launch an ed tech startup!
The divide worries me for many reasons but mainly...
1. There are children who will suffer real tech poverty if they do not have access to these devices at home or school.
2. There will be a lot of Y7 students, already lost in a giant new school but also rather under stimulated and possibly a little disaffected by the lack of tech in their new classes!