Hey strangers! Life got crazy for a while. At school we've been gearing up for our standardized assessments, doing report cards and wrapping up 3rd quarter. This is my favorite time of the year because this is when my kinders really start flying!! At home, I've been planning my wedding! So sadly, my blogging got put on the back burner for a while. But I'm back! Lately we have really been working on writing neatly in our classroom. In previous years, I've focused a lot more on handwriting, but our new curriculum hasn't lent to that this year so it's been harder for me to fit it in. Plus my main goal for my kiddos is always to enjoy writing and to get thoughts on paper before really worrying about what the writing looks like.
I can safely say that handwriting is simultaneously my students' favorite and least favorite thing to practice. They love the activities, but hate having to fix their writing until it's correct. I hear a lot of "but this is so BORING!" That's why I make the activities as easy and engaging as possible. I also try to include repetition when possible so that it isn't so frustrating for students. Somehow as soon as animal sentences are involved in practicing, it's magically the BEST. THING. EVER! :) I also keep my activities short and sweet. Because the words they're writing are words that they can read, it's also independent! This means I'm able to introduce a handwriting section to my literacy centers. And doesn't everyone love new centers?
For the first half of the year, depending on the class, I rarely hold my students accountable for center work. That's when I'm laying the foundation for their love of learning, understanding routine and teamwork. That's not to say I'm not observing and taking notes. I certainly keep track of their skills, I just don't like to introduce the requirement of turning in work until we've gotten our routine down and we're flowing really well. Generally at the beginning of 3rd quarter I start asking students to gradually turn in center work to me to be checked. Once students are used to doing this, I introduce work folders (which by this time of year they LOVE because it makes them feel very responsible and old - they almost feel as though they've earned it).
Here's what we're using right now in our classroom to work on our handwriting:
Creative Writing Journals
These are the best addition to my centers by far! As mentioned previously, we've switched our ELA curriculum this year. There are so many great things about this curriculum that I appreciate and there are a lot of improvements I notice with my students' work. The one thing I miss is the love of creative writing that I saw when I used Writer's Workshop. Our writing now is more focused on reading response and although we do work on creative writing, I like for my students to have an outlet to do it more often so I gave them these journals and told them that as long as they wrote, I didn't care what it was about. I love what they're coming up with! Handwriting isn't the main focus here, love of writing is, but a little practice doesn't hurt anyone!
To hold us accountable, we use center "Work Folders." I use the same system that I used in Writer's Workshop. The green side is for unfinished work and the red side is for work that is ready to be checked and put into take home folders. Inside their folders they can practice writing word family words that we work on as a whole class during our morning meeting. This allows them to us a model to help them with their handwriting. This system works really well for me because it doesn't require having a tons of "turn in" baskets at their centers and it consolidates where all of their work is. Plus it's perfect for early finishers who need something to do!
This is an example of one of the handwriting activities we use in our classroom right now. My students are not only practicing handwriting, but they're also practicing fine motor skills, sight words and reading fluency. I love these sheets! You can find them here in my TPT store.
Last, but certainly not least, we practice handwriting using interactive writing in our classroom. This is the perfect opportunity for me to really see what areas to focus on with my kids' writing.