~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
Students need to be able to determine the meaning of words that they encounter in text. Context provides many types of clues to the meaning of words. Sometimes, especially in textbooks or student news magazines a definition is stated or an explanation or restatement is added. Students need to learn to watch for this information and to use it. Often a synonym for the word may be used within the paragraph. By paying attention to this new information, students can gain understanding of a word. When a contrasting idea is given, an antonym might help the student determine word meaning. A prefix or suffix on a word can add to student understanding of its meaning. Often students can use their background knowledge mixed with the clues in the text to make an inference. The simplest help in learning the word might be found in an illustration.
I’ve made a page for students to add to their interactive notebook to remind them to look for different types of context clues.
I feel using context clues should be fun, so I have created a Halloween Context Clues Scavenger Hunt. Students can be out of their seats while determining the meaning of words. I have found that students love a chance to move. This product is available at my TPT store and includes the context clues material above (plus several other pages on context clues) as well as 16 scavenger hunt cards asking students to determine the meaning of words.
When learning cursive writing students should focus on seven Ss. Each S adds to the legibility of the writing.
Seat – It matters how you sit when you are writing in cursive (or printing or sitting at a computer to do keyboarding). Your body should be straight and supported in your seat. Your hands and arms need to be able to move freely and without tiring. I always have said, “Straight and tall with your feet on the floor.” Really I think all of this is just a matter of focus on your best work.
Squeeze/Grip – The hold on the writing implement is important. The best grip uses the first three fingers of your writing hand. The middle finger moves the pencil, while the thumb and forefinger hold it securely in position. Many children come to cursive with an already established poor grip. It is difficult to reteach pencil grip, but sometimes using a triangular plastic pencil grip helps. Writers need to be careful not to squeeze the pen or pencil too tightly. This actually works against good cursive. The line will be too dark and deep. It becomes almost impossible to erase errors. Most importantly, the writer’s hand will tire too quickly.
Strokes – Most cursive letters are made using one or more of the 4 strokes and the loop. The undercurve begins on the bottom line and slants to the right and upward. The downcurve begins at the top of the letter and goes left and downwards. The overcurve begins on the bottom line without a slant and then goes over at the top. The slant usually goes downward from an undercurve or an overcurve and towards the left. Many cursive letter also contain a loop.
Size – Cursive letters have a relative size. Lowercase a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, and w are one space or the size of the base unit of a letter. Lowercase b, d, h, k, l, and t take up two spaces. These letters begin where the one space letters begin on the base line, but continue up an extra space. Lowercase g, j,p, q, y, and z are also two space letters. However, these letters are only as tall as one space letters but then descend below the line one space. Lowercase f is the only 3 space letter. It is important to keep letters their relative size no matter the size of our writing.
Shape – The shape of cursive letters is found in various styles. Each style, however, has consistent formation of each letter. To add in legibility, a letter should not change style or shape within a given document. Students can be encourage to form letters to fit their own style, but with the understanding that the primary point of writing is so that it can be easily read by others.
Space – Each letter takes up a specific amount of space due to its size. Letters cannot be crowded at the ends of lines. Words also need a specific space between them. When given a smaller amount of space is it smart to determine to use a smaller size of writing, keeping the relative size of each letter consistent. It is also important that a writer has space to do neat work. A cluttered desk top is not a good area for producing fine cursive.
Slant – Cursive letters should have a consistent slant to the right. This is achieved by slanting the paper. A right-handed writer should point the top right corner of the paper to the top of the desk. (Left-handed writers point the top left corner to the top of the desk.) Letters are then written towards the top of the desk instead of towards the top of the paper to get the correct slant.
Cursive writing should not be a lost art. Students still look forward to this tradition as their turn to “write like a grown up.” Using the seven Ss of cursive writing, students can learn this valuable skill.
My product, Learning Cursive, now has over 110 pages and 51 videos. All of the lowercase videos are completed. These videos spend 3-5 minutes teaching the correct size and shape of each letter. For almost all letters, additional video of 2 -3 minutes teaches making connections with that letter to other letters. I am beginning the capital letter videos this week. There will be at least 32 more videos.
You can find it here at my Teachers Pay Teachers store
Learning Cursive will include more than 60 videos. These videos will be available by September 1, if not sooner. Your purchase today will provide you with all of the pages (70+), then I will update this with an access link to each video.
Here is a sample video. It is of an initial lesson. It will be followed by a lesson on making connections. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdUVimhOKLI
Because the videos are not yet available, I am giving you a large price break at this time! Buy now and save! Depending on the final number of videos I am thinking this product should be $60 – $70. Right now until I upload the links, it is available for about 1/3 of that!
Each Learning Cursive packet teaches all of the cursive letters and making connections to the letter following. Cursive writing is an important skill for students but teachers often do not have the time to incorporate lessons into the classroom. Some teachers also feel that they themselves do not have sufficient cursive skills to be an effective instructor of this skill. Video lessons can save teaching time, model proper writing skills, allow for small group or individual lessons, allow students to work at their own pace, and may even help teachers improve their own cursive skills.
Letters are learned in a logical sequence, but not alphabetically. Letters with similar strokes are learned then reviewed together.
i, t, e, l, u, w
a, d, o, g, c, q
j, b, h, k, f
n, m, y
r, s, p
v, x, y (This group could be included with n, m, and y, but I chose to save them for last so that other more used letters could be practiced first.)
Special lessons for making connections with o, w, b, and v are also included.
A, O, Q
N, M, H, K
B, P, R
U, Y, W, V, X, Z
Additionally the videos include information on pencil grip, slant, size, shape, and spacing. Students are given and shown Dos and DON’Ts for each letter. Lessons review previously learned letters. Lessons ask students to reflect on their work. They are encouraged to find their best letter and to try to improve a less well done letter. Students will practice reading cursive, while learning to write it. The cursive used in this product is my own personal handwriting. I am a teacher with 38 years experience teaching cursive. I have successfully instructed close to 1,000 students in learning to write. It has always been one of the most fun parts of third grade for the students. I hope to continue this tradition without the burden of “not enough time to do a good job” on the teachers.
Darcy Baldwin of Darcy Baldwin Fonts helped me immensely by creating and then continually tweaking my font. She was a pleasure to work with. If you need fonts, please visit her store!Read More
Each Wednesday I plan to present words in English that come from other languages. I find this to be interesting and I am hoping to make it interesting for students in grades 3 – 5. It is really cool how our language incorporates words from other languages!
First up some plant and animal names that come from Native American Algonquian words.
caribou which means “snow shoveler”
muskrat which means “bob (at the surface of the water) head”
opossum which means “white dog”
pecan which means “nut”
persimmon which means “fruit, berry”
skunk which means “to urinate” + “fox”
woodchuck comes from reshaped words meaning “wood” and “chuck”
Each week I will include a vocabulary card that can be used in your classroom. Sets of cards may be found in my Teacher Pay Teachers store.
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I am working on some awesome lessons for teaching manuscript printing and cursive this summer. I think it is something many, many teachers and homeschooling parents will be able to use and love. While I am working to create these amazing products I have needed to acquire some new skills. I may not be able to begin producing my big products for a few weeks, but I want to get you all excited about using great manuscript and cursive in your classrooms!
I have created some manuscript (printing) alphabet posters. I will be giving several sets of these away for FREE!
These posters are available in 13 colors or in the rainbow pattern of all thirteen colors. They are available without lines, with lines, and with arrows showing how to form the letters. N-Z repeat the colors of A-M if you choose the rainbow pattern of colors. The vowels come with a short vowel card and a long vowel card. I currently have them in black the same as the consonants, but I would change them on request. I created the background for these cards. The fonts are by Fonts4Teachers. The pictures are from Pixabay. They will be available in my TeachersPayTeachers store for $3.00 for the rainbow set (in each of the three formats) and $4.00 for a custom set. Please share this post with any teacher or homeschooling parent who might be interested in having these posters!
Every June we used to make these in my classroom. The kids loved creating crazy designs for the ties! It was so fun to see what they would come up with. Using real buttons or cutting fabric into a tie shape adds another level of fun to the project! You can find free patterns on TPT here.Read More
I love the United States and I want to visit all of it. I wonder sometimes if I should be yearning to see Europe, Africa or Australia. But I never feel that way. I haven’t seen enough of this country. My recent trip to Alaska reinforces in me the desire to see the beauty of my own country. There is so much I still need to see.
I stand at attention with my hand on my heart each day in my classroom and demand either a unison response or a respectful silence from my students. When necessary I remind them of the sacrifices given for our flag and country, and those currently being given.
Here are some pages to use with your students or children. They include a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance and some pages to learn and understand its vocabulary.
With these feelings in mind, I created a Flag Day Scavenger Hunt. It is available on TPT here.Read More