Quick Lesson on Signatures [Cursive Writing]

ABC Worksheet

ABC Worksheet

We broached this problem during the 2nd Quarter when I gave a Problem Solving Writing Assignment 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 45 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 45 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.

It was my pleasure dedicating half of a class period to it, and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to teach the kids a skill that they will eventually need. I encourage all parents, teachers, and anybody else that has students in a learning environment to dedicate some time to teach them a fundamental skill. As you can see, it may take as little as 45 minutes to teach students to write their signature in cursive. I think it was well worth it…

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9 comments on “Quick Lesson on Signatures [Cursive Writing]

  1. Graduated from school system 40 years ago that did not teach cursive writing but instead provided parents with reports from handwriting experts showing signatures that were not written in cursive were no easier to duplicate than cursive. usually harder. It has been great never to use cursive. My writing is faster and more legible. Only drawback was difficulty in readying letters from my grandmother. that is no longer a problem.

    • I think you touched on an important point towards the end of your comment. You had difficulty reading cursive. I think it’s important to be taught to communicate in as many effective ways as possible whether it’s print, cursive, or typing. I think learning how to write & read in cursive is particularly important when kids have to sign their name, read documents in cursive, or save time when taking notes. It’s up to the individual how they communicate, and it’s up to the teacher to give them the opportunity to learn as many ways as possible.

  2. In CA cursive writing is a state standard for 3rd grade. My (3rd grade) students see learning cursive as a rite of passage and are eager learners. What most excites me, is when I see the eventual transition of print turning into cursive in their daily work as they get more confident using it.

  3. There are a number of reasons to teach cursive besides writing signatures. (1) Recent studies show that cursive does much more to stimulate the brain than typing on a keyboard. See report and video showing results of MRI test at http://kstp.com/article/stories/S2935982.shtml?cat=0 The report refers to studies done at Indiana University and at Vanderbilt, which I have not been able to track down. However, in an interview with the researcher at Indiana University, it is clear that this research compared hand printing with keyboarding. However, the researcher does say another preliminary research study “involving cursive writing found that college students remembered information better one week later when they transcribed a paragraph in cursive, compared to printing it or using a keyboard.” [at http://homepages.indiana.edu/web/page/normal/20986.html%5D Another study of adults learning Chinese found they remembered the Chinese characters better after drawing them out by hand than when they just studied a printed version.

    (2) If they don’t learn cursive, they will have enormous trouble reading any original documents such as Declaration of Independence, letters from famous authors and politicians, etc. (not all of which are available in typed versions), never mind old letters from greatgrandma.

    (3) Cursive can be very useful with new iPads, Samsung Note smartphone & tablet, etc. There are a number of apps for iPhone to teach cursive.

  4. Thank you for your comments. I’m glad you took the time to find those studies. My original point was that it’s important that students should know how to sign their name (signature) in cursive as well as read older informational text that may be in cursive. If I didn’t know how to sign my name or read documents in cursive, I’d have to teach myself. I spent about 30 to 45 minutes with this quick lesson on cursive writing…

  5. The “signature” arguments hold no water. Many people have distinctive, even attractive signatures that are not in the conventional, loopy cursive. People admire my signature. It’s italic based. I never learned the cursive method that is now threatened with extinction.

    The handwriting problems we now face are:

    1) Too little time to include solid instruction in “cursive,” the method that joins all letters within words.

    2) A misunderstanding of fine motor skills. Images of children practicing cursive writing show tense, dysfunctional pencil holds. They are not learning fine motor control. A handwriting method that joins all letters within words requires a different posture to work. It’s whole arm movement and is rarely used or taught now. More, please see “Why Cursive Doesn’t Work” at http://www.bfhhandwriting.com/blog/

    Currently, the most common method in the US is this: First children learn to make letters with strokes that start at their tops and move in specified ways. Then we UNDO MOTOR MEMORY, in order to learn a different alphabet. Letter shapes and stroke directions change in order to create joins. Please see a graphic explanation, “When Cursive Doesn’t Work, again at my blog.”

    Writing by hand is proved to be of greater cognitive benefit than keyboarding. But, research does not actually specify a method of handwriting.

    One can easily learn to read cursive without learning to write it. I have taught this to young children. Of course all significant documents are to be found on the Internet.

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