We broached this problem once again during the 4th Quarter when I gave students a Roots Letter Writing Activity in letter format. As one of the assignment requirements, I stipulated that they must sign their name at the end of the letter. I found it puzzling that a good portion of the 7th Graders weren’t taught to write in cursive, or they had forgotten how. To their credit, they picked up on it in a matter of less than 30 minutes. Did I mention these kids are resoundingly awesome? I’ve read multiple articles on various news outlets saying there isn’t a need to emphasize cursive writing anymore. I’ve also had discussions with other educators about the matter. Personally, I see both points of view. I think we are in an information age where emphasis doesn’t necessarily need to be placed solely on penmanship. That being said, we are also in an age where everybody doesn’t have access to a computer inside the classroom or at home, so penmanship is still pretty important – print and cursive. The overall point of communicating your intelligence in as many formats as possible should always be valued whether it be on a computer, in print, in cursive, in pen, in pencil, or crayon;]
I digress, I took it upon myself to give my students a quick lesson on cursive handwriting with an emphasis on signatures which I think is a much-needed skill. The objective for the lesson, students will be able to sign their name in cursive. I let students know that long gone are the days of marking an X to signify that it’s indeed you, and that their computer might not always have enough battery life one of these days. There is always the option that students could just print their name and use that as their signature, but I’d rather they learn now than be relegated to print form. A good portion were happy to learn cursive and very appreciative, some were on the fence, and others didn’t see the point.
The mini-lesson took about 25 minutes, and it included ABC practice sheets (see picture above) where students traced letters as well as signing their name about 50 times up and down the lined paper (not pictured). The majority of the time was not spent on the actual application, but it was spent relaying the importance of being able to write in cursive and sign their name. A large portion of the kids picked up on it with ease and in a matter of minutes, so I’m not sure why there isn’t enough room for it in some classrooms at a younger age. I think Kate Messner put it best, “Do I think cursive should still be part of the curriculum?” asks Kate Messner, a seventh-grade English teacher at Stafford Middle School in Plattsburgh, NY, and author of Marty McGuire (Scholastic, 2011). “I think it should stay, for now, though perhaps not with the write-neatly-or-you’ll-never-amount-to-anything attitudes of the past. Cursive handwriting is still very much a part of our society, in personal signatures, which are essential, and to some degree, in handwritten notes from person to person.“