Handwriting, including cursive, will return to instructions for Shelby Co. students in kindergarten, Grades 1-3; board member cites supportive social media poll

Sentinel-News, Shelbyville, June 22, 2016

SCPS to bring back handwriting, cursive
By ASHLEY SUTTER

Though it’s no longer required by the state, Shelby County Public Schools rolled out its plan Thursday to integrate handwriting lessons into classroom curriculums for the coming year.

Susan Dugle, director of curriculum personalization for SCPS, shared with the board that in recent years there’s been a shift away from handwriting instruction to focus more on the development of ideas and communication skills. However, at the urging of teachers, board members and community members, the district recently began researching the value of handwriting and its impact on students.

“Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also are better able to generate ideas and retain information,” Dugle said.

Dugle said many studies link the development of handwriting to academic success because it supports many foundational skills that are necessary for academic functioning. She said on a preschool level, students currently follow physical and verbal cues to learn the formation of upper and lowercase letters and that work will
be carried on into the primary classrooms for the upcoming school year, she said.

“Instructional coaches will work with teachers to develop intentional curriculum instructional plans for our kindergarten through second grade students,” she said.

Instruction of cursive handwriting will begin in the grades to follow.

“Beginning near the end of second grade year and through the end of third grade, teachers will begin to guide students into the transition of cursive handwriting.”

Proper keyboarding lessons will also be taught to students in higher grade levels, as necessary.

Board member Joanna Freels shared at a former meeting that she believed teaching cursive in the classroom was important and was glad the board was in favor of bringing it back into the curriculum.

“I almost didn’t bring this up in a meeting because I was told that we would never do this again in Shelby County, but I’m so glad that I did,” she said, noting that she put a survey on Facebook to garner feedback from the community on the matter. “Two-hundred people responded, only three said they did not think it was important to teach cursive writing here. Out of those there [were] 76 teachers that said yes, 33 primary teachers that said yes and 115 parents that said they wanted it taught. So I think the community wants it and I think it’s a good thing,” Freels said. “It doesn’t hurt.”

Also at the meeting, the board:

? Heard a report on the impact a 168-unit apartment complex might have on the enrollment number for Shelby County Public Schools. The study revealed that the possible impacted schools (Simpsonville Elementary, West Middle and Collins High) would have sufficient capacity to handle an influx of students considering the apartments were at full capacity.

? Recessed to hold the meeting of the Shelby County School District Finance Corporation Meeting where they approved a resolution with the board of directors of the Shelby County School District Finance Corporation, relating to and providing for the issuance of $8,020,000 of special obligation bonds to provide funds for the Area Technology Center.

? Approved the Eagle Scout Project for Deric Senecal. Senecal proposed to create a sidewalk from the side of Collins High School that would connect to the parking lot.

? Approved the continuation of the Student Drug Testing Program for student athletes.

? Heard the affirmative action report.

? Heard a report from the district’s director of innovation and CCR John Leeper on College and Career Readiness. Leeper said that 100 percent of the class of 2016 graduates were College and/or Career Ready. With 42 percent of graduates College and Career Ready (worth 1.5 points), 24 percent College only ready, and 17 percent career only ready this gave the district a CCR score of 102.43 by the state’s accountability definition of readiness. By the state’s standards, 82 percent of the graduates were College and/or Career Ready, surpassing the goal set in 2010 by eight percent.

? Heard a report from Leeper on Blended Learning. Leeper explained that Blended Learning is a classroom model that combines digital resources with 21 Century pedagogies.

“By definition Blended Learning is a formal education program in which a student learns, at least in part, through digital delivery of instruction and content with some element of student control over time, place, path and/or pace. He gave analogies of three models and shared how they would work in the district through their personalization, openness and flexibility. Clear Creek, Southside and Heritage elementary schools, as well as Collins and Shelby County high schools will have pilot academies in the upcoming school year that will be generally the same at each school, but personalized to meet the needs at each.

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