Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 05, 2024

Script handwriting isn't gone -- more states now require school penmanship lessons

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Do you write and read in cursive script occasionally – or ever? Before texting, email and digital homework, students connected slanted, looping letters (in addition to using block print that's more legible). Your grandparents learned penmanship in elementary classrooms with cursive letter shapes displayed above the blackboard – itself another vintage item. Teachers and parents also may be familiar with handwriting and perhaps still use it to sign checks (yes, we know that payment form also is so yesterday). Twenty-one states still require penmanship lessons in early grades – a number that's growing.

For the first time since 2010, California this month began requiring schools to teach cursive writing between first and sixth grade. "Being able to read cursive is important," says Sharon Quirk-Silva, an Assembly member from Fullerton, Calif., who taught in elementary school for 30 years and who wrote her state's new law. She adds: "You need it to read historical documents, including family letter and diaries, wedding invitations and holiday cards."

Two decades ago, many states dropped cursive writing instruction as keyboard skills were stressed in grades three through five. Critics of mandatory cursive instruction say students have too many subjects to master and that typing and coding are more useful. But some educators see the return as a way to combat tech-aided forms of cheating, such as using artificial intelligence to complete assignments. That gives teachers a fresh reason to value handwritten, in-class assignments.

Moreover, researchers say, script writing builds pupils' fine motor skills and stimulates their brains differently than typing does. Handwriting increases word retention and requires slower, closer thinking in comparison to tapping keys. "It activates a portion of the brain that doesn't occur in print or typing," says Vicki Gravlin, director of curriculum instruction for a school district in Oceanside, Calif.

In Connecticut, cursive instruction last month became part of a model curriculum that districts can use in full or in part. In Pennsylvania, state Rep. Joe Adams will introduce a bill soon to mandate cursive instruction. "Recent studies indicate that learning cursive has many developmental benefits, including increased hand-eye coordination, critical thinking and increased self-confidence in students," he says. "It is clearly critical that the basics of this important skill be required." To the north, the Canadian province of Ontario this academic year revived italic script instruction as a third-grade essential for the first time since 2006.

Advocate says: "We shouldn't have some students who have been exposed to cursive and others for whom it appears to be almost a foreign language." – Sharon Quirk-Silva, California assemblywoman

Student says: "We never actually put our cursive skills to use in anything else we did. . . . We type for most things in our class. . . . If you need to be able to read cursive, you could probably learn a skill like that in the future." – Rowan Mitchell, 11, of Boise, Idaho

Politician says: "The added benefit of learning to write in cursive is the creation of a written self-identity that can separate human work from that of artificial intelligence and stymie plagiarism." – State Rep. Joe Adams of Pennsylvania, a Republican

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2024

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