Evaluation for 3.b.4
Materials include practice for students to write legibly in print (K-1) and cursive (Grade 2).
The materials include support for students to practice writing legibly in print. Guidance is provided for teachers to instruct print handwriting. A plan for procedures and supports to assess students’ handwriting development is provided.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual,” handwriting instruction is consistently supported through lesson cycles, and opportunities for students to practice are given in the student “Handwriting Notebook.” Handwriting instruction includes hand- and finger-strengthening exercises, pencil grip, posture, and practice of standard letter formation, including punctuation.
The instructional materials explain the progression of the program: “In the Being a Reader program, whole-class instruction on handwriting begins in the first week of the school year.” There are five weeks of handwriting instruction, including finger games, songs, and a variety of activities. The instruction begins with warm-up exercises, such as hand presses, followed by some games, and then a wrap-up. The teacher instructs: “Press your palms together and push really hard. Count backward ‘Five, four, three, two, one’ and release. Repeat two or three times.” Additional activities include “Piano Playing” and “Rub Your Palms.” The students use hand motions as they read the poem “The Train is Coming.” They continue by singing and using hand motions with the song “Where is Thumbkin?”
Week 7 introduces the “Handwriting Books,” which will be used for student practice. Students begin by completing pages 1–4, while the teacher can walk around and offer help with pencil grip. Later within the unit, students learn to form the capital letters T, I, and L. When the students begin independent work rotations, instruction in letter formation is included. Students practice what they are learning when they go to independent writing, before beginning free writing. Handwriting practice is a connection from whole-class instruction to independent work rotations.
In Week 13, students learn and practice writing the capital letters A and Z. The teacher models guide the students through forming each letter using the stroke sequence. For each letter, students use the wipe-off board, dry-erase marker, and tissue to practice. They begin writing each letter through forming it using the stroke sequence. Students practice writing independently in their Handwriting Notebook. The teacher walks around and observes, assisting students as they work independently.
The “Being a Reader” Handwriting Notebook offers print letter formation practice throughout the year, beginning with lines and circles for uppercase- then lowercase-letter formation. Points and dotted lines provide guidance on where to initially place the pencil; the dotted lines give students a trail to follow. The letter is presented along with a picture of an object that begins with the letter’s primary sound. Examples of the letter written correctly are given to trace; this is then scaffolded to a letter with dashes. Finally, students are given only the point at which to begin writing the letter, without lines or dashes to trace. Lined paper with dashes at midline is included and consistent throughout the series.
The Being a Reader program includes formative assessments for handwriting, which include reflection on students’ academic and social growth over time through observation. Class assessments are in the form of assessment notes, which are designed to help the teacher assess the learning of the whole class through observation while walking around and working with students individually and in pairs.
Additionally, writing samples are collected as an optional form of assessing students. According to the “Introduction” section, “Assessment of students’ handwriting is not formally included in the Being a Reader program.” The program notes that the most reliable way to assess students is through writing that students do in other parts of the day. It is also suggested that the teacher keep a record of each student’s handwriting progress. This is done by collecting the students’ work on the review blackline masters provided every few weeks in the “Handwriting” lesson sequence. It does state, “Record sheets are not provided as these are not formal assessments.”
In Week 10, the teacher has the opportunity to utilize the built-in review week to observe and make notes of each student’s handwriting progress as well as any specific concerns. The teacher reminds students that in the past week they have been reviewing many capital letters (T, I, L, H, F, E, C, O, Q, and G). The teacher distributes the Week 10 review sheet, where students trace the letter and the dotted letter, and then form their own letter in the blank space between the lines. Students work independently to complete the review sheet. As students work independently, the teacher walks around and observes, assisting students as needed. The teacher records notes of any observations and individual student handwriting progress.
The Handwriting Book that students use for practice throughout the school year is another assessment tool for the teacher. The teacher monitors the student’s progress through the book and assesses any specific areas of struggle, such as the formation of certain letters. In addition, within the weeks of instruction, there are “Class Assessment Notes.” For example, in Week 4, the Class Assessment Note instructs the teacher to observe the students and ask questions such as “Are the students using the correct stroke sequences?” and “Do they form letters that are appropriately sized?” The observations and answers to the self-asked questions are recorded on the “Class Assessment Record” sheet in the “Assessment Resource Book.” Teachers are also instructed to offer pencil-grip support and/or letter formation support by working with students individually or offering small-group time.
In total, 17 weeks of formative class assessment rubrics are provided to aid in reflection and teaching throughout the year. The rubrics change to include more developmentally appropriate skills for kindergarteners as they progress throughout the year.