77 Write or Wrong: The Death of Handwriting?

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Do American children still learn handwriting in school? In this age of the _____________, some people seem to think handwriting lessons are on the way out.

We asked a _____________ professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Steve Graham says he has been hearing about the death of handwriting for the past fifteen years. So is it still being taught?

STEVE GRAHAM: «If the results of a survey that we had published this year are accurate, it is being taught by about ninety percent of teachers in grades one to three.»

Ninety percent of teachers also say they are required to teach handwriting. But _____________ have yet to answer the question of how well they are teaching it. Professor Graham says one study published this year found that about three out of every four teachers say they are not prepared to teach handwriting.

STEVE GRAHAM: «And then when you look at how it’s _____________, you have some teachers who are teaching handwriting by providing instruction for ten, fifteen minutes a day, and then other teachers who basically teach it for sixty to seventy minutes a day — which really for handwriting is pretty much _____________.»

Many adults remember learning that way — by copying letters over and over again. Today’s thinking is that short periods of practice are better. Many _____________ also think handwriting should not be taught by itself. Instead, they say it should be used as a way to get students to _____________ ideas. After all, that is why we write.

Professor Graham says handwriting involves two skills. One is _____________, which means forming the letters so they can be read. The other is _____________ — writing without having to think about it. The professor says fluency continues to develop up until high school.

But not everyone masters these skills. Teachers commonly report that about one-fourth of their kids have poor handwriting. Some people might think handwriting is not important anymore because of computers and voice _____________ programs.

But Steve Graham at Vanderbilt says word processing is rarely done in elementary school, especially in the _____________ years.

STEVE GRAHAM: «Even when we look at surveys that we’ve done with high school teachers, we find that less than fifty percent of _____________ are done via word processing or with word processing. And, in fact, if we added in taking notes and doing tests in class, most of the writing done in school is done by hand.»

American children traditionally first learn to print, then to write in cursive, which connects the letters. But guess what we learned from a _____________ for the College Board, which administers the SAT college admission test. More than seventy-five percent of students choose to print their essay on the test rather than write in cursive.

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