Wednesday, May 25, 2016

5 Reasons You Need to Be Teaching Cursive

Cursive writing is one of the many things required in elementary school that often gets pushed aside to create more time for student test prep.  I for one LOVE teaching cursive writing and will be teaching it throughout the year for quite a few reasons.

1.) Fine Motor Skills

Students need lots of help...even into the third grade with fine movement.  With the loss of music and art programs, students are losing valuable opportunities to dig into the details and become more coordinated. Cursive writing helps students to work on fine motor skills big time.

2.) Reading Historical Documents

This is probably the biggest reason I feel that we need to work on teaching students cursive.  As students start to work independently with primary and secondary sources, they need to be able to read documents that are not printed in manuscript.  Reading and writing in cursive will make reading historical documents written in cursive easier to understand.  In addition, who doesn't love a handwritten note?  Most of the notes I've ever recieved have cursive writing in them.  What a shame if I could not read those notes, because I'd not been taught how!  What if my children couldn't read notes that their grandmother wrote to me?

3.) Personal Signature

Everyone needs a signature.  On any paper based form there is a place for a printed name and a signature.  A signature is not the same as a printed name.  In order to sign for something, you need to be able to have a fundamental understanding of how to form the letters of your name in cursive.  Our students will be signing things for a very long time after elementary school.  We need to teach cursive so that they have a signature.

4.) Art Appreciation

There are so many beautiful types of art that include calligraphy or cursive writing.  The shapes that are created by cursive can be so beautiful.  Just something simply handwritten can be beautiful.  I mean...jeepers can't look away from this stuff!

5.) Hand Eye Coordination

Some students have trouble copying from the board to the paper.  For the rest of their academic lives they will be called upon to take notes from things that are either projected or written on a screen or board ahead of them.  It's important that they get practice looking and then writing.  It's an academic life skill! :)

So with these thoughts in mind, I came up with two different cursive writing progressions.  Both teach all of the letters in about 20 weeks.  One starts at the beginning of the year, and the other starts at the middle. I created some tests to go with it.  Each test has a rubric that students can evaluate themselves with.  There's also a spot for me to grade it as well.  At our school we use a 5 point rubric. So, that's what you see reflected in my work.

In this version, the students learn the letters and are graded each time there is a finished product assignment.  The remainder of the year, their cursive is evaluated more broadly in their written work.

With this option, students begin in the third nine weeks, right before testing season.  They take the remainder of the year to learn the letter progressions and connections.  Both of these methods will expose the students to cursive writing, but the first one allows them the year to practice.
Grading writing with a rubric is the quickest and easiest way I've found to maximize my time.  Over the last few years, I've also been toying around with how to have my students engage more with the material.  I want them to 'know what they know' from 'what they don't know'.  Over the last few years that I've asked my students to use rubrics to progress monitor themselves, I've seen TONS of growth.

I try to keep the grading simple and look for just a handful of things.  On the scoring rubric itself, I have students check off what they feel they did well on.  Then they can color in the star to match their score.  I didn't create a TON of tests for my class, because cursive is part of the Language Arts portion of our report card.  There will be spelling, writing, and grammar grades there as well, so, two tests each nine weeks is enough for us.  In your classroom, have your students work on writing the letters and connecting them to each other on newsprint or even regular college ruled paper.  This will save you tons of ink and copies! :)
If you'd like to see my progression for third grade cursive, feel free to download it HERE.
Want more ideas for third grade?
Check out my brand new pinterest board All Things Third! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mrs. Russell's Got Some Big News

So excited about this upcoming year! :)
Who are some of your favorite third grade bloggers?  Please share in the comments!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

19 Uptempo End of the Year Slideshow Songs

Do you love doing an end of the year slide show as much as I do?  It's so much fun to remember all the things I did with the kids throughout the year.  Here's a list of my favorite up tempo songs for slideshows!  I hope you'll be able to use these to enjoy your walk down memory lane with the kids.
Best Day of My Life -American Authors
MMmm Bop - Hansen
Can't Stop the Feelin' - Justin Timberlake
My House - Flo Rida
Happy - Pharrell Williams
Can't Hold Us - Macklemore & Lewis
We Go Together - Olivia Newton John and John Travolta
Don't You (Forget About Me) Simple Minds
Celebration - Kool and the Gang
I Gotta Feelin' - Black Eyed Peas
I'm Glad You Came - The Wanted
Hey Ya - Outkast
ABC - Jackson 5
Ya Gotta Be - Des'ree
Brave-Sarah Bareillies
Let's Get Loud- Jennifer Lopez
Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
A Sky Full of Stars - Coldplay
You've Got a Friend in Me - Randy Newman
Need more music?  I've got a great post on 15 Sappy Songs for Slideshows too!  
Need some end of the year activity ideas?  You may want to check out my End of the Year Pinterest Board too!