Has Handwriting Become an Instructional Dinosaur?

With Dr. Nancy Cushen White

Handwriting is not widely taught in classrooms these days. Many children don’t receive direct instruction in proper letter formation and pencil grip; however, writing by hand is connected to the motor systems of the brain and is especially beneficial for our dyslexic children.    Our dyslexia expert of the day, Dr. Nancy Cushen White, makes a case for why handwriting is important and draws on the research of Virginia Berninger and Beverly Wolf to support the benefits of writing by hand as well as keyboarding.    Today you will learn…  
  • What dysgraphia is.
 
  • What the pros and cons are for writing by hand versus keyboarding and what brain research shows.
 
  • Why written expression requires a lot of cognitive energy.
 
  • How to hold a pencil to reduce fatigue.
 
  • What the advantages are of both manuscript print and cursive and what is the most critical factor for either form of writing.
 
  • What it means to be multilingual by hand. 
  Nancy reminds us of the importance of direct, correct, explicit instruction that includes lots of multisensory, simultaneous practice for all forms of writing. The goal is automaticity to free up cognitive energy for higher level skills.    Join Nancy from the City by the Bay to hear more of her “golden nuggets” about handwriting.      We’d love to know what you think about today’s topic and what questions you might have. Please share your greatest “nuggets” through email at [email protected] or on Instagram @embracedyslexia.series.    Embracing Dyslexia With You,   MaryAnna   P.S. We are getting a lot of questions about viewing past episodes. Please note that there will be a replay weekend at the end of the series for you to catch up on any videos that you missed. 

Get Dr. Nancy Cushen White's Free Resource:

1-cursive and manuscript letter formations.ncw-as.pdf, 2-illustration of tripod pencil grip-PRL+message.ncw.pdf, 3-Practice Makes Permanent-Steeves-ncw.pdf, 4-IDA Fact Sheet-Understanding Dysgraphia.Berninger & Wolf.pdf

About Dr. Nancy Cushen White

Nancy Cushen White, Ed.D. is a Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, at UCSF (Univ of CA-San Francisco). Over the past 40+ years, she has taught students in general/special ed classrooms at public/private schools, provided psycho-educational assessment and literacy intervention, trained pre-/in-service teachers and practitioners, developed curricula, and been involved in policy. She piloted a San Francisco Unified School District special day class for 2e—Twice Exceptional students who were gifted with a diagnosis of dyslexia and has taught young adults in a pre-trial diversion program through San Francisco Superior Court—Mentor Court Division. She is a certified Instructor of Teaching for training teachers in the Slingerland Multimodal Structured Language Approach (Structured Literacy). A past member of the board of directors of The International Dyslexia Association, Nancy serves as editor-in-chief of IDA’s online newsletter, The Examiner, and represents IDA on the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD).

13 Comments

  1. Shirley Blowers

    This was a very interesting presentation. It was difficult to process all of it because there was so much and she speaks so fast! I hope there will be an opportunity to access the video again so that I can look at my notes and fill in the gaps. This is a topic for further consideration for me. She was very articulate, full of knowledge, and we were able to see beautiful San Francisco! MaryAnna, as usual, you kept us on track for all the important points. Just as an aside, your porch was lovely. I love looking at the objects that you choose for your video. I am very curious where you live. Thank you so much for offering this series. It has really been helpful to me, and I will be able to share all the information with the teachers and parents of my school.

    Reply
    • Nancy Cushen White

      Thank you for your feedback, Shirley.
      Glad you found the information related to handwriting instruction to be useful.
      I hope there will be another opportunity for you to view the video so you can fill in the gaps in your notes.
      Nancy Cushen White

      Reply
  2. nancy coffman

    Such a lovely description of the importance of handwriting instruction! Very explicit.

    thank-you,
    Nancy Coffman

    Reply
    • Nancy Cushen White

      Thank you, Nancy.
      I appreciate your feedback.
      Nancy Cushen White

      Reply
  3. Hettie Johnson

    Thank you for your wonderful presentation, Nancy! I loved you sharing the crucial value of handwriting being taught carefully and sequentially to automaticity!
    And thank you, MaryAnna!

    Reply
    • Nancy Cushen White

      Thank you for your comments, Hettie.
      Glad you liked the discussion of the path to handwriting automaticity.
      Nancy Cushen White

      Reply
  4. Mary Garilis

    Dear Shirley, Thank you very much for a much needed, presentation tying the need for explicit handwriting instruction to our brains in the effective learning to read, as well as the effective learning to express ourselves the process of appropriate, worthwhile learning process. The physical act of involving the learners within the process of forming the letters, saying the letter names then combining them to form words while continuing to move to have the learners create sentences using their new skill is most efficient for the learners to connect the various components.

    Reply
    • Nancy Cushen White

      Dear Mary-
      Thank you for your comments on the integration of explicit handwriting instruction with the teaching of reading and written expression.
      Nancy Cushen White

      Reply
  5. Carolyn

    I finally managed to see this. Wonderful presentation, Nancy, on a very important topic!

    Reply
  6. Val smith

    Thank you so much! My son has dysgraphia, this summer I learned cursive would be beneficial to him, so we have been working on it. You had so many good tips, going to be adding in the the tips you gave, and seeing how far your students came was very motivating! Thanks so much!

    Reply
  7. Tisha Lang

    Wonderful presentation! My son has dysgraphia and dyslexia, and although he’s had many supports, his handwriting is very poor. At sixteen, he cannot sign his name, so we’ve recently began working on cursive. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It came at the right time and is very much appreciated.

    Reply
  8. Ronit Glickman

    After watching your excellent presentation, I was immediately able to adjust how I instruct students to sky write letters and words. That small adjustment of stabilizing the wrist is very powerful. I am an elementary public school teacher and mother of a 10 year old daughter with dyslexia. Kim Kobre is her Slingerland tutor. I will forward her the video link when it becomes available.

    Reply
  9. Lisa Pillsbury

    Thank you for shedding light on this much debated issue! I appreciate all the pros and cons of handwriting versus keyboarding and will make sure to make explicit and integrated handwriting a daily part of my intervention groups. I will also work to promote the automaticity of cursive and keyboarding for my older elementary students.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *