MY CRITIQUE OF THE NOV. 2015 TEXAS ELAR/TEKS DRAFT

Jan 5, 2016 by

Teachers, students, parents and school administrators take part in a rally for Texas public schools at the state Capitol on Feb. 23 in Austin. About 2,000 teachers, students, parents and school administrators rallied at the state Capitol, demanding that the Legislature reverse $5.4 billion in cuts to public education amid new data that Texas now spends less per-pupil than almost anywhere else in America. --Eric Gay/AP-File

ATTENTION TEXANS:  Attempts being made to move all Texas public school students into the Common Core model of instruction

 

“Texas’ English / Language Arts / Reading (K through Grade 12) TEKS – Released for Review by Public”

By Donna Garner

1.5.16

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) working with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is in the midst of reviewing the English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) curriculum standards (TEKS) for Grades K – 12. 

Here is the TEA link to the present ELAR/TEKS curriculum standards (Beginning with School Year 2009 – 2010) that are being used in the Texas public schools now:   http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter110/index.html

 

A review of the TEKS is done every seven years per subject area.  Last summer the elected members of the SBOE appointed Review Committee Members (RCM) who helped to develop the First Draft of the ELAR/TEKS which came out in Nov. 2015 and was posted on the TEA website on Dec. 17, 2015.  

Informal feedback about the Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS Drafts will be accepted by the TEA through Jan. 25, 2016. Public hearings and more drafts will be ongoing for several more months before the final ELAR/TEKS are adopted formally.

The public is encouraged to send their comments to the TEA at the following address: TEKS@tea.texas.gov.  

Those who wish to submit their comments need to read the directions for submission by going to: http://tea.texas.gov/Curriculum_and_Instructional_Programs/Curriculum_Standards/TEKS_Texas_Essential_Knowledge_and_Skills_(TEKS)_Review/English_Language_Arts_and_Reading_TEKS/

I asked for  WORD-formatted copies of all of the grade levels (K-12) of the Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS Draft, and the SBOE/TEA was kind enough to send them to me. By using WORD-formatted copies (rather than the pdf copies as posted on the TEA website), we can now cut/copy/paste and share our concerns and comments much more readily. If you would like to receive these WORD-formatted copies (Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS Draft in English, SLAR, and ESOL), please send me an e-mail containing your request; and I will be glad to e-mail them to you. My e-mail address is wgarner1@hot.rr.com.

 

It is very important when sending in our comments and/or sharing them with the public that we try to include the grade level and the specific element number to which we are referring. For instance, “Grade 1 — (b)(1)(A)(i)”

 

 

MY GENERAL STATEMENTS THAT APPLY TO MULTIPLE GRADE LEVELS OF THE NOV. 2015 ELAR/TEKS DRAFTS

 

First of all, I very much object to the leadership of the ELAR/TEKS REVIEW Committee Members (RCM) that took it upon themselves to REWRITE/RENAME the strands.  The RCM was meant to “REVIEW” – not REWRITE the ELAR/TEKS.  By changing the names of the ELAR strands from the standards presently being used in the Texas public schools (Beginning with School Year 2009 – 2010), the RCM is overstepping its authority.

 

Beginning in 2009 to the present time: The present five strands are (1) Reading, (2) Writing, (3) Research, (4) Listening and Speaking, (5) Oral and Written Conventions.  These have served us nicely, and there was no reason to change these strands.

 

Now in the Nov. 2015 Draft, the five have been changed to eight strands — (1) Developing and sustaining foundational language skills, (2) Comprehension, (3) Response, (4) Collaboration, (5) Multiple genres, (6) Author’s purpose and craft, (7) Composition and presentation, (8) Inquiry and research. These eight strands only serve to make the ELAR/TEKS more complicated for both students and teachers.

 

By changing the names of the ELAR strands, many explicit skills so badly needed by our Texas public school children will be collapsed into other strands and will fail to be emphasized by teachers. Whenever explicit skills are mixed up together with other skills, the explicit skills lose their significance in the curriculum.      

 

OBJECTION #1

 

Case in point:  Please go to the TEA website to see the present ELAR/TEKS for Kindergarten. Notice that the present ELAR/TEKS (Kindergarten) emphasize the explicit skills of both written and spoken English by having three separate strands that address those skills: 

 

(22)  Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions

(23)  Oral and Written Conventions/Handwriting, Capitalization, and Punctuation.

(24) Oral and Written Conventions/Spelling

 

In the new Nov. 2015 Draft version (please see ELAR Kindergarten attachment formatted in WORD), these all-important Oral and Written Conventions have been de-emphasized by rolling them into strand #7 (Composition and Presentation). As if that were not bad enough, they are buried even further into the sub-heading (F) in K-8 and into (M) starting with Eng. I – IV.  

 

OBJECTION #2 – K THROUGH 12

 

I also highly object to the Nov. 2015 Draft version in which one of the eight new strands K-12 is now called “Collaboration” (Strand #4); and this Collaboration strand goes all the way from K through English IV.  Collaboration is telling teachers HOW to conduct their classes and is clearly a form of methodology. 

 

The Collaboration strand is guilty on two counts:  (1) The Texas State Board of Education is forbidden to mandate methodology in the TEKS, and (2) the elements listed in the Collaboration strand cannot be measured objectively. 

 

The Type #1 parameters (now used in the present ELAR/TEKS and that are supposed to be followed by the Review Committee Members) are the following:  Each element should (1) be knowledge-based, (2) be academic, (3) be grade-level-specific/course specific, (4) be explicit, (5) grow in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next, and (6) be measurable.   

 

Implementing a separate Collaboration strand is an excuse by the Type #2 subjective, project-based, constructivist, process-over-right-answers, cognitive (feelings, emotions, opinions), social justice agenda proponents to focus the classroom on group-think instead of on individual accountability and fact-based learning (Type #1). 

 

A separate Collaboration strand is not necessary; the Listening/Speaking strand found in the present ELAR/TEKS is sufficient. The Collaboration strand needs to be collapsed into the Listening/Speaking strand throughout the K-12 drafts.

 

OBJECTION #3

 

In Grade K and throughout the entire ELAR/TEKS document, the words “metacognitive” and “predictions” need to be deleted. Students are expected to be good enough readers using the phonetic awareness/decoding skills (phonics) learned in K through Grade 3 to keep them from having to rely upon “predictions” or “guessing” to be able to pronounce and comprehend text.  

 

The ELAR/TEKS should not mention the words “metacognitive skills” nor “predictions.”  These terms are favorite words used by whole language/balanced reading proponents who teach children to read through predicting by looking at a picture, basically guessing what the word could be, etc. We do not want emergent readers “guessing” or “predicting” a word. We want them to know their phonemes so well that they can go from sound to letter, blend/segment as needed, and pronounce the word almost automatically.  Then they should learn to map the sound-to-letter and spell the word correctly. When they get to Grade 3, they should explicitly be taught cursive writing so that teachers from that grade on up can expect children to both read and write cursive well.

 

Examples in Nov. 2015 Draft:

 

(a)(2)   As skills and knowledge are obtained in each of the eight strands, students will continue to apply earlier standards with greater depth to increasingly complex texts in multiple genres as they become self-directed, critical learners who work collaboratively while continuously using metacognitive skills.

 

(a)(b)(2)  Comprehension. Students use a flexible range of metacognitive skills, vocabulary and fluency to understand text that is read, written, spoken, and heard.

 

(b)(2)(E)  use text features, elements and structure to make and confirm predictions;

 

 

OBJECTION #4 – K THROUGH ENG. IV

 

I have gone through Grades 1 – Eng. IV in the Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS document and have cut/copied/pasted the types of writing assignments found generally in sections (a)(7) that are to be taught in each grade level. My concern is that there is not a smooth scope and sequence from one composition assignment to the next nor from one grade level to the next.

 

Part of the reason why Texas students’ Writing scores on the STAAR/EOC’s are lower than found in any other subject areas is that students are not systematically taught one mode of writing and allowed to practice it to mastery.

 

Confusion abounds because of the various writing terms used in our schools today. It would be so helpful if teachers would all utilize the same terminology. Here are the four modes of writing, and these should be utilized throughout K-12: (1) narrative, (2) descriptive, (3) expository, and (4) persuasive. The two styles of writing are fiction and non-fiction.

 

Using these terms, the Review Committee Members could organize the ELAR/TEKS around these four modes and these two types of writing, with variations and combinations developing as students get to the higher grade levels (e.g., a persuasive paper that contains both a descriptive paragraph and a narrative paragraph, an expository paper that contains a narrative paragraph, etc.).  

 

The way the Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS draft is now, students get very little training and practicing in writing expository text before they get to English I where “informational text” is emphasized. No wonder students are confused.  

 

What I would like to see the Review Committee Members do is to establish perhaps one or two different modes of writing to emphasize at each grade level.  Perhaps K could emphasize narrative writing. Grade 1 could emphasize sophisticated narrative writing and add descriptive writing.  Grade 2 could emphasize strategies to write better narrative and descriptive compositions and have students learn to combine the two. Grade 3 could emphasize better developed narrative and descriptive writing but could also introduce expository writing.  Grade 4 could emphasize a more sophisticated approach to expository writing with the addition of research skills.  Grade 5 could emphasize narrative, descriptive, and better-developed expository writing along with deeper research skills.  Grade 6 could emphasize narrative, descriptive, expository, and add the first elements of persuasive writing.  Grade 7 could lengthen the narrative, descriptive, expository compositions and add more persuasive writing strategies.  Grade 8 could emphasize compositions that combine the four modes and that are longer and better developed.  By English I and into high school, students would be thoroughly familiar with all four modes of writing and would be ready to launch into literary devices, comparison/contrast, allusions, and full-blown expository research papers that contain examples of paragraphs from the other three modes.  This is merely a suggestion, but I would love to see the SBOE try to develop such a sequential approach to the teaching of writing.  This systematic approach is so much better than “throwing the whole kitchen sink” at students and then expecting them to produce papers that contain cognitive progression.

 

The following examples in the Nov. 2015 Draft illustrate the lack of scope and sequence in the present document. Please notice the gaps, the inappropriate expections, and the hit-and-miss rigor as students progress from one grade level to the next.

 

GRADE 1

 

(b)(7)  Composition and Presentation: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing using Multiple Texts. Students use the modes of writing/discourse and the writing process recursively to compose multiple texts that are meaningful and legible and use appropriate conventions. The student is expected to:

 

(A)          write compositions about topics of interest to the student;

(B)          plan a first draft by generating ideas for writing such as drawing, sharing ideas, listing key ideas;

(C)          develop drafts;

(D)          revise drafts by adding or deleting words, phrases, or sentences;

(E)           edit drafts for grammar, punctuation, and spelling;

(F)           publish and share writing with others;

(G)          write short letters that put ideas in a chronological or logical sequence and use appropriate conventions such as date, salutation, closing;

 

 

GRADE 2 (I won’t repeat the introductory wording – same as K.)

 

(b)(7)

 

(A)          plan a first draft by generating ideas for writing such as drawing, sharing ideas, listing key ideas);

(B)          develop drafts by sequencing ideas through writing sentences;

(C)          revise drafts by adding or deleting words, phrases, or sentences;

(D)          edit drafts for grammar, punctuation, and spelling using a teacher-developed rubric;

 

GRADE 3

 

(b)(7) Composition and Presentation: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing Using Multiple Texts. Students use the modes of writing/discourse and the writing process recursively to compose multiple texts that are meaningful and legible and use appropriate conventions. Students are expected to:

(A)       prewrite and plan the organization of a draft by selecting a genre for a particular topic, purpose, and audience using a range of strategies such as brainstorming, free writing, and mapping;

(B)       draft text or media by categorizing ideas and organizing them into paragraphs to create a focused, structured, and coherent piece of writing;

(C)       revise drafts by adding, deleting, combining, and rearranging ideas for coherence, progression, sentence variety to address audience, genre, and purpose;

(D)       edit drafts for effective sentence structure and correctness of standard English conventions of grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation;

(E)       publish drafts in response to feedback and evaluate its effectiveness using a rubric;

 

GRADE 4

(b)(7)

 

(A)          prewrite and plan the organization of a draft by selecting a genre for a particular topic, purpose, and audience using a range of strategies such as brainstorming, free writing, and mapping;

(B)          draft text or media by categorizing ideas and organizing them into paragraphs to create a focused, structured, and coherent piece of writing;

(C)          revise drafts by adding, deleting, combining, and rearranging ideas for coherence, progression, sentence variety to address audience, genre, and purpose;

(D)      edit drafts for effective sentence structure and correctness of standard English conventions of grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation;

(E)      (E)     publish draft in response to feedback and evaluate its effectiveness using a rubric;

 

GRADE 5

(b)(7)

 

(A)          prewrite and plan a draft by selecting a genre using a range of strategies such as brainstorming, freewriting, and mapping for a particular topic, purpose, and audience;

(B)          draft text or media by categorizing ideas and organizing them into paragraphs to create a focused, structured, and coherent piece of writing;

(C)          revise drafts by adding, deleting, combining, and rearranging ideas for coherence, progression, sentence variety, to address audience, purpose, purpose, and genre;

(D)          edit drafts for effective sentence structure and correctness of standard English conventions of grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation; and

(E)          publish draft in response to feedback and evaluate its effectiveness using a rubric

 

GRADE 6

 

(b)(7)

 

(F)           write a story that includes an engaging plot and well-developed characters with purposeful use of literary devices, including dialogue that develops the story;

(G)          write poetry that conveys a message using poetic techniques such as rhyme scheme, and meter and figurative language such as personification, idioms, and hyperbole;

(H)          write a personal narrative that has a clearly defined focus and communicates the importance of or reasons for actions and/or consequences;

(I)            write a multi-paragraph essay to convey information about a topic that;

 

GRADE 7

(b)(7)

 

(A)      plan a first draft by selecting a genre appropriate for conveying the intended meaning to an audience, determining appropriate topics through a range of strategies such as discussion, background reading, personal interests, and interviews, and developing a thesis or controlling idea;

(B)      develop drafts by choosing an appropriate organizational strategy such as sequence of events, cause-effect, and compare-contrast and building on ideas to create a focused, organized, and coherent piece of writing;

(C)       revise drafts to ensure precise word choice and vivid images; consistent point of view; use of simple, compound, and complex sentences a variety of sentence structures; internal and external coherence; and the use of effective transitions after rethinking how well questions of purpose, audience, and genre have been addressed;

(D)      edit drafts for grammar, mechanics, and spelling;

(E)       revise final draft in response to feedback from peers and teacher and publish written work for appropriate audiences;

(F)       write a story that includes an engaging plot and well-developed characters with purposeful use of literary devices, including dialogue that develops the story;

(G)      write poetry that conveys a message using poetic techniques such as rhyme scheme, and meter and figurative language such as personification, idioms, and hyperbole;

(H)      write a personal narrative that has a clearly defined focus and communicates the importance of or reasons for actions and/or consequences;

(I)        write a multi-paragraph essay to convey information about a topic that;

(i)        presents effective introductions and concluding paragraphs;

(ii)       contains a clearly stated purpose or controlling idea;

(iii)     is logically organized with appropriate facts and details and includes no extraneous information or inconsistencies;

(iv)      synthesizes ideas from several sources accurately; and

(v)       uses a variety of sentence structures, rhetorical devices, and transitions to link paragraphs; and

(J)        write correspondence that reflects an opinion, registers a complaint, or requests information in a business or friendly context;

(K)       produce a multimedia presentation involving text and graphics using available technology.

 

GRADE 8

(b)(7)

 

(A)      plan a first draft by selecting a genre appropriate for conveying the intended meaning to an audience, determining appropriate topics through a range of strategies (e.g., discussion, background reading, personal interests, interviews), and developing a thesis or controlling idea;

(B)      develop drafts by choosing an appropriate organizational strategy (e.g., sequence of events, cause-effect, compare-contrast) and building on ideas to create a focused, organized, and coherent piece of writing;

(C)       revise drafts to ensure precise word choice and vivid images; consistent point of view; use of simple, compound, and complex sentences; internal and external coherence; and the use of effective transitions after rethinking how well questions of purpose, audience, and genre have been addressed;

(D)      edit drafts for grammar, mechanics, and spelling;

(E)       revise final draft in response to feedback from peers and teacher and publish written work for appropriate audiences;

(F)       write a story that includes an engaging plot and well-developed characters with purposeful use of literary devices including an integral setting and multiple viewpoints;

(G)      write poetry that conveys a message using poetic techniques, (e.g., rhyme scheme and meter) and figurative language (e.g., personification, idioms, and hyperbole);

(H)      write a personal narrative that has a clearly defined focus and includes reflections on decisions, actions, and/or consequences;

(I)        write a multi-paragraph essay to convey information about a topic that:

(i)        presents effective introductions and concluding paragraphs;

(ii)       contains a clearly stated purpose or controlling idea;

(iii)     is logically organized with appropriate facts and details and includes no extraneous information or inconsistencies;

(iv)      accurately synthesizes ideas from several sources; and

(v)       uses a variety of sentence structures, rhetorical devices, and transitions to link paragraphs;

(J)        write correspondence that reflects an opinion, registers a complaint, or requests information in a business or friendly context;

(K)       produce a multimedia presentation involving text, graphics, images, and sound using available technology;

 

 

ENGLISH I

 

(b)(7)

 

(F)       write informational essays using genre characteristics and author’s craft;

(G)      write a multi-genre composition choosing elements from literary, informational, and argumentative modes;

 

 

ENGLISH II

 

(b) (7)

 

(F)       write a multi-genre composition choosing elements from literary, informational, and argumentative modes;

(G)      write argumentative essays utilizing genre characteristics and author’s craft;

 

ENGLISH III

 

(b)(7)

 

(F)        write a multi-genre composition choosing elements from literary, informational, and argumentative modes;

(G)      write personal essays using genre characteristics and author’s craft;

(H)      write rhetorical analysis using genre characteristics and author’s craft;

 

ENGLISH IV

 

(b)(F)

 

(F)       write a multi-genre composition choosing elements from literary, informational, and argumentative modes;

(G)      write literary analysis essay using genre characteristics and author’s craft;

(H)      write poetry using genre characteristics and author’s craft;

(I)        write a resumé using genre characteristics and author’s craft;

 

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1.5.15 — Today, I am sending out an addendum to the critique of the Nov. 2015 DRAFT OF THE ELAR/TEKS that I sent out yesterday in which I verbalized my four Objections to what the Texas English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) Review Committee Members had produced.

The reason for this separate addendum is to explain thoroughly my concern that the leadership of the ELAR/TEKS Review Committee Members (RCM) chose to follow the Type #2 philosophy of education as exhibited in the Common Core Standards by taking away cursive handwriting from the Texas public schools. 

Here is my Objection #5 which should be added to the Objections #1 – #4 in yesterday’s critique. I have also added Objection #6 at the end of this addendum:

OBJECTION #5

The present ELAR/TEKS document (Beginning with School Year 2009 to the present) states:

(23)  Oral and Written Conventions/Handwriting, Capitalization, and Punctuation. Students write legibly and use appropriate capitalization and punctuation conventions in their compositions. Students are expected to:

(A)  write legibly in cursive script with spacing between words in a sentence. (http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter110/ch110a.html#110.14)

In the Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS Draft, no mention is made of cursive writing to be taught in Grade 3.

 

Texas is one of the few states that requires cursive writing to be taught, starting in Grade 3. However, for some time, this state mandate in the present ELAR/TEKS to teach cursive has been ignored; and many Texas teachers have quit teaching cursive or correct handwriting habits.

 

Because Grade 3 teachers have quit teaching cursive, then the students going forward from Grade 3 have no longer had the ability to write nor to read cursive. Because the skills learned in ELAR are competency-based (build upon one another) and because the ELAR/TEKS set explicit goals at each grade level/course level, once students are taught to master a certain skill, then they are to be held accountable in the future grade levels to demonstrate that mastery.

 

In other words, once students are taught cursive in Grade 3, teachers in the succeeding grade levels can expect students to write cursively and to read text written in cursive writing.

 

The Common Core Standards deliberately do not support the teaching of cursive writing for two reasons:  (1) The agenda behind Obama’s Common Core Standards is to dumb down students to the same common level, and (2) Obama and his administration are indoctrinating students into the social justice agenda.

 

One of the best ways to indoctrinate this and future generations of students is to make sure they can no longer read the historical documents upon which our nation is founded.

 

Beyond the obvious (e.g., personal thank-you notes, friendly letters, etc.), if students can no longer read cursive writing, they will not be able to read the primary sources upon which our country is built — the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, journals, diaries, love letters, historical documents, ledgers, etc.  

 

Students will also not be able to read historical and literary documents that come from Britain and other English-speaking nations. This means that large portions of resources in every museum and library in this country and throughout the world would be unintelligible to generations of non-cursive-reading students. They would be forced to have someone else interpret these documents for them which is a dangerous thing in today’s politically correct world.

 

The advantages of cursive are well documented.  Cursive is a much faster form of handwriting than printing because each letter flows into the next letter. If people are without computers and need to be able to take or write notes, their handwriting speed would be severely impaired if they did not know how to write cursively.   

 

Computers are not always accessible and do not always work. Schools are already finding that out as they put their students in digitized textbooks. When the network or the device goes down, all learning stops!  As schools are forced to cut their technology budgets and the layers of tech support staffers are overcome with the deluge of techie devices in the schools, these “computer down” occurrences are occurring much more regularly.

 

Nothing forces students to pay attention to detail better than their having to write their compositions, test answers, open-response questions, timed writings in longhand; and cursive prioritizes classroom time. 

 

When people go into an office to apply for a job, they generally have to fill out applications in longhand.  Being able to write quickly, neatly, and clearly gives the prospective employer a favorable impression of the applicant.

 

How many of us who go to doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, and hospital/clinic offices frequently are asked to fill out forms?  Again, being able to write quickly, neatly, and clearly expedites those office visits and gives healthcare workers important information about our health.  

 

We also have credible research done by qualified, peer-reviewed, published researchers that proves cursive is good for the brain.

 

6.2.14 – “What’s Lost As Handwriting Fades” – by Maria Konnikova – New York Times, Science – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html?_r=0

 

Excerpts from this article:

 

psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.

“And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.”

When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.

By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.

In another study, Dr. James is comparing children who physically form letters with those who only watch others doing it. Her observations suggest that it is only the actual effort that engages the brain’s motor pathways and delivers the learning benefits of handwriting.

Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, demonstrated that “When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas… When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.”

Dr. Berninger goes so far as to suggest that cursive writing may train self-control ability in a way that other modes of writing do not, and some researchers argue that it may even be a path to treating dyslexia. A 2012 review suggests that cursive may be particularly effective for individuals with developmental dysgraphia — motor-control difficulties in forming letters — and that it may aid in preventing the reversal and inversion of letters.

the benefits of writing by hand extend beyond childhood. For adults, typing may be a fast and efficient alternative to longhand, but that very efficiency may diminish our ability to process new information. Not only do we learn letters better when we commit them to memory through writing, memory and learning ability in general may benefit.

Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard…the new research suggests that writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

 

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MY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE ACTUAL HANDWRITING STANDARDS

 

Not only should cursive handwriting be restored to the Nov. 15 ELAR/TEKS Draft going forward, but the teaching of good handwriting habits should be taught systematically beginning in Kindergarten. As I stated in my comments from 1.4.16, the Oral and Written Conventions strand should be restored to the Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS Draft going forward, and the following elements should be added to that strand:  

 

KINDERGARTEN

 

The student is expected to:

 

(A)  Practice good posture when seated at a table/desk for writing purposes.

 
(B)  Practice proper pencil gripping (using correct fingers to form vise to hold writing tool) while correctly positioning hand and arm in relationship to paper and desk.
 
(C)  Produce correct formation of letters using starting point, directionality, and ending point for each letter.
 
(D)  Identify the top/bottom, front/back, margins, lines on a sheet of paper.

 

 

 

GRADE 1

 

The student is expected to:
(A)  Practice good posture when seated at a table/desk for writing purposes.
 
(B)  Practice proper pencil gripping (using correct fingers to form vise to hold writing tool) while correctly positioning hand and arm in relationship to paper and desk.
 
(C)  Produce correct formation of letters using starting point, directionality, and ending point for each letter.
 
(D)   Identify margins and margin forming lines.
 
(E)   Identify appropriate times for writing outside the margin lines.
 
(F)   Start writing close to left margin line.
 
(G)   Form all letters so they rest on baseline.
 
(H)   Demonstrate correct starting point and stroke sequence for each letter.
 
(I)    Form both lower and upper case letters in correct manuscript style.
 
(J)   Form all letters so they occupy proper space in relationship to other letters.
 
(K)  Allow space between words.
 
(L)   Start next line at the left margin when one line is complete.

 

(M)  Form both lower and upper case letters in correct handwriting style.

 

 

GRADE 2

 

The student is expected to:
(A)  Distinguish cursive from printed  writing.
 
(B)  Explain the purpose of cursive writing.
 
(C)  Identify appropriate times to use printed writing (e.g., maps, charts) or cursive.
 
(D)  Demonstrate how to form the connecting line between any two given letters.
 
(E)  Produce neat, legible cursive writing (e.g., consistent slant, correct letter formation, correct size).

 

GRADE 3 – ENG. IV

 

The student is expected to:

 

(A)  Use neat, legible cursive writing on most school work.
 
(B)  Produce neat, legible cursive writing (e.g., consistent slant, correct letter formation.

 

 

 

OBJECTION #6

 

In the Nov. 2015 ELAR/TEKS Draft, the wording is as follows in the Introductions for K through Eng. IV:

 

Introduction

 

(a)(6) Statements that contain the word “including” reference content that must be mastered, while those containing the phrase “such as” are intended as possible illustrative examples.

 

I would like to see this wording clarified by deleting the above explanation and inserting the following:

 

If the curriculum element says “such as” or “e.g.,” – (1) teachers may teach, (2) textbooks/instructional materials must include, (3) the element preceded by “such as” or “e.g.” may or may not be tested on STAAR/EOC’s

 

If the curriculum element says “including” – (1) teachers must teach, (2) textbooks/instructional materials must include, (3) element is permissible to be tested on STAAR/EOC’s

 

 

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

 

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