Dumb things our education systems do. Handwriting

More often than not when I read an article related to education it has a negative connotation  generally fitting into one of the following categories.

  • Our Teachers are failing students.
  • Technology and students are a terrible mix, get rid of it.
  • Back in my day everyone could read write and count. Why cant they now?
  • Why aren't we more like (Insert Country name here.) who does education far better than us.

Occasionally, the odd good news story breaks through, but they are few and far between.

Having worked in education for over a decade I have see some of the most inspiring through to disengaged members of our community which are part of a massive machine we refer to as  the "Education System".  In Australia we account for one of the largest sectors of the workforce.

This year, I am setting out to point out that all too often our 'Education System' like many others around the world quite simply broken by hypocrisy, outdated thinking and stubbornness which fail our teachers and students from ever reaching their full potential.  Most of my points would be 99 percent invisible to the community and very easily rectified.  Whilst some of these items may seem small and trivial they add up quickly and are simply unnecessary.

Today, I am going to highlight the Australian handwriting debacle which is a cut and dried example of commerce winning over common sense.  Whilst I am specifically addressing Australia here this is repeated in other education systems around the world.

So here we go...  I am going to hit you with the simple facts first...

  • Australia is constructed of states and territories which had exclusive control of their own curriculum until recently when the Australian Curriculum was conceived back in 2008.  It is still being rolled out to bring consistency across the nation for teachers and students.
  • Somehow, Somewhere, Someone decided each state should have it's own style of handwriting students should be using purely based upon where they live.
  • These handwriting styles are almost identical which is demonstrated in the image below courtesy of kidzcopy.com.au  

Stick with me here because this is where it gets Dumb!! If not a little unethical

  • Any educator or contractor wishing to make a resource such as an Alphabet poster or a handwriting book in Australian schools has to create five versions of the exact same thing to ensure  it can be used from Broome to Bondi.  Making it time consuming and expensive even though our curriculum is now national.
  • Most of these fonts are commercially licensed (and expensive as seen in the table below.)  So if a teacher, and even a mum, dad or student wish to make a resource they have to pay to do so.  

So here are my questions regarding what I, and many others see as just plain dumb.  Maybe someone far smarter than me can explain the answers.

  • In 2016 why do we have different fonts for each state?
  • Who decided South Australia's font was unsuitable for Victoria and so on?
  • Why do our teachers, students and parents have to buy a license to use them for purely educational purposes?
  • Who is profiteering from this experience?  Is it the education departments or some commercial group?
  • How does having to pay to produce and use 5 different fonts help our teachers and students in any way?
  • How do we fix this small but dumb element of our education system?  

Here is my solution.  The Victorian Department of Education are obviously far more progressive than their neighbours and make their font (Victorian Modern Cursive) freely available to all.  

Let's (All Teachers) just adopt it as the Australian Handwriting Font and make our teachers and students lives easier by refusing to produce anything that requires a paid font.  You can download the Victorian Font here.

We don't have to keep doing DUMB things in the future just because we have done it in the past.

I would greatly appreciate your answers and thoughts regarding this topic and love to hear what elements of education you see that you think are just DUMB!!! I have more to come.

Printable Victorian Modern Cursive Handwriting Templates

HAndwriting Pic.JPG

A friend of mine asked for some printable templates to help her grandchildren improve their handwriting skills.  

As a result I have created these Victorian Modern Cursive Templates for you to download and print out. 

They work most effectively when laminated so that they can be used over and over. 

Please let me know if you would like these made up in any other specific font and I'll see what I can do.

Click here to download.  

Enjoy.

 


Christmas themed template pack for young writers

Christmas-themed-writing-pack.JPG

Christmas is a wonderful time of year for students and kids of all ages. So make the most of it, and get them to produce some impressive Christmas themed writing tasks using this pack for young writers.

These themed writing packs look great and will inspire kids to write and step up their presentation skills as opposed to simply writing on standard paper.

Download the Christmas themed writing Pack Here.

The Pack looks great, and has 8 different themed pages that include.

  • A Visual map for planning the characters, setting, problem & plot.
  • A planning tool for constructing a narrative.
  • Half Page Dotted thirds with a space for a picture
  • Full page themed dotted thirds with images.
  • Bordered Themed lined writing paper.

We have a number of themed writing packs and other printable paper for teachers and students that can be downloaded for free.

How to Get Students to Improve Their Handwriting

It’s something that has gone into the shadows today, what with the dependence on electronic mail and printed documents; however, handwriting is still an essential part of the schooling process. College students may take notes on their laptops or even their smartphones, but they still have to write their exams with pen on paper. And as long as you’re in school, the gadgets are minimized and handwriting is maximized, so it’s best to work on making it neat and legible.  There’s much that teachers and parents can do to help students improve their handwriting, starting with this list of ideas:

Start emphasizing the importance of neat writing when they’re at a young age, preferably when they’re learning cursive writing.  Get them to practice their handwriting every day using the special notebooks that are designed for this purpose.

Once they develop their own style of writing, correct aspects that need to undergo change – for instance, if they write neatly but the writing is not legible, ask them to increase the size of the font; or if they leave very little space between words, get them to work consciously on including more space so the words can be differentiated.  Award prizes for essays that feature the best handwriting.  Ask for rewrites when handwriting is slipshod and haphazard.

Insist on students with poor handwriting practicing every day – they may not like it, but they’ll thank you when their grades go up because their handwriting has improved.  If students still have trouble writing neatly, get them to try changing the way they grip the pen or ask them to write more slowly.

Some students write better on lined paper while others prefer unlined sheets – ask them to choose what’s best for their writing.

They say your handwriting reveals much of your character, but what’s more important for students is that their writing must be neat and legible, with well ordered lines and spacing so that teachers are able to grade their exams and assignments without any difficulty.

This guest post is contributed by Paula Dierkins, who writes on the topic of PhD Degree Online . Paula can be reached at her email id: paula.dierkins[@]gmail[.]com

4 iPad and iPhone apps to improve junior literacy and numeracy skills

With over 100,000 apps on the apple market it is important to revisit the latest educational apps available today I have found 4 great apps that will help your little ones improve their reading writing skills without breaking the bank.

Kidcalc - Price $1.99 buy it here

KidCalc teaches number recognition, counting and math to pre-schoolers, kindergarteners and elementary school aged children using flash cards and puzzle games, with engaging artwork, animation and voice-overs.
KidCalc includes animated addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division lessons. KidCalc is easily configurable to adjust how challenging the counting and math puzzles are, with settings for toddlers learning numbers, for preschoolers learning to add and subtract, and for elementary school aged kids learning to count as high as 1000 and to multiply and divide.

KidCalc is jam packed with features and now teaches the following skills:
• Writing numbers
• Number recognition by sight and sound
• Quantity recognition with icons
• Counting forwards and backwards, with voice-overs, by increments of 1, 2, 3, on up to increments of 100
• Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with operands up to 1000
• Reading numbers spelled out, up to one thousand

Grover's Number Special  $1.99 - Buy it here

Hello Everybodeeeeeee! It is I, Grover, your cute and lovable waiter, and I need your help. Charlie the cook did not come in to the restaurant today, and the Customer wants his lunch right away! Join me in the kitchen to catch—and count—ingredients to make delicious and nutritious meals. 

Cooking with me is easy! All you have to do is tip your cute little iPhone or iPod touch back and forth, and my adorable little hand will move the tray. I will tell you how many things to catch, and we will count them together. It will be so much fun! Oh, pleeease play my little game—The Customer is getting very hungry!

"Elmo loves this game! Elmo can play all by himself. And Elmo’s friend Grover is so silly!" -Elmo

"This game look so good, me try to eat phone!" -Cookie Monster

"I thought this was the worst game ever, until Grover made a HUGE mess. Heh-heh!"
-Oscar the Grouch


Features:

•Part of the Count with Sesame Series!
•Original Sesame Street video!
•Easy to play
•Just tilt your iPhone or iPod touch to catch the ingredients!


Curriculum and Skills:

This educational application combines learning and fun! As your child plays with Grover, he can also build important school readiness skills, including counting, number recognition, and object identification.

•Visual discrimination
•Counting
•Number recognition

 

abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words Price $1.99 Buy it here

abc PocketPhonics was designed and reviewed by teachers who use phonics (letter sounds) to teach children to read. It is primarily aimed at preschool kids and those aged up to 7. To understand the best educational practice underpinning abc PocketPhonics, order the free guide to teaching kids to read from the app.

Phonics was recommended by the Australian Federal Government's Teaching Reading report in 2005.

LETTER SOUNDS
Simply put, phonics (letter sounds) is about helping children learn to read by understanding the sounds that letters make. 

abc PocketPhonics teaches the letter sounds for all the letters in the alphabet. It also teaches over 30 letters sounds that come from combining letters together (like “sh” and “ch”), because they are key to reading so many frequently-used words. Most apps only teach A to Z.

LETTER WRITING 
PocketPhonics visually demonstrates how to write each letter. Children enjoy practising their writing by tracing the letter with their finger (similar to a Montessori classroom where children learn first to trace letters with their fingers). PocketPhonics also works with iPhone-compatible styluses.

abc PocketPhonics will also (optionally) check the accuracy of your child's writing. 

170 FIRST WORDS
Using a unique, "letter sounds make words" spelling game, children learn how to sound out and spell over 170 frequently-used words.

 

 

iWritewords Handwriting Game Price $3.99 buy it here

iWriteWords teaches your child handwriting while playing a fun and entertaining game. Help Mr. Crab collect the numbers in sequence by dragging him with your finger - and drawing the letter at the same time. Once all the letters in the word are drawn properly, a cute drawing appears. Tilt your iPhone or iPod Touch and watch the letters slide into the rotating hole and advance to the next level.

Features:
• Learn handwriting the fun way
• 70 words/levels of uppercase letters
• 70 words/levels of lowercase letters
• 20 levels of numbers
• 26 levels (A to Z) of individual letter tracing for uppercase letters
• 26 levels (a to z) of individual letter tracing for lowercase letters
• Playback the accomplished words featuring your child's own handwriting
• Realistic physics and gravity for falling letters
• Play the ABC song by tapping or shaking your iPhone or iPod Touch like drumming
• Each letter and word is spoken as it was completed


I am sure that you know of plenty others so please post your suggestions below.