A Cursive Writing Program – Forming Numbers and Letters

Part 3 of a Series - A Cursive Writing Program

Writing Numbers or Characters

How do you know if a student in a cursive writing program is forming numbers and letters well?

A simple test for writing characters is to have a student write their first name repeatedly for 30 seconds. One of the most common well-known words we write is our name, so thinking and spelling skills do not play a role in how quickly and well a student can generate characters.

When students have demonstrated the ability to grasp a pen or pencil properly and use it to generate marks, we can begin writing letters and numbers.

Students should be asked to write their names as many times as possible on a lined sheet of paper. Multiplying the number of times they complete writing their name by the number of characters in their name and then doubling that score to get a count per minute will show how close the student is to the standard of 150+ per minute.

Did you get that? 150+ per minute – not a judgement or opinion or qualitative description. This is a very simple measure that only takes a minute and gives you real data.

Any letter that could not be deciphered on a hand-written price tag is deemed to be an error. Errors are deducted before the count is doubled. Both errors and corrects are doubled to report a per/minute score.

Number Writing – Forming Numbers

Writing digits is less complicated than forming either printed symbols or cursive writing letters. When forming numbers, there is a simple rule. All numbers start from the top and go downwards. Students begin by putting their pencil tip on the dot and then following the arrow in the correct direction.

• 2, 3, and 9 start at the dot and are directed by the arrow to go upwards to the right and then down.
• 0, 1, 6, and 8 start at the dot and are directed by the arrow to move downwards.
• 7 starts at the dot and goes across to the right and then down at an angle to the left.
• 5 starts at the ball and goes horizontally to the left, then down and to the right.
• 4 requires the student to make two separate motions, both starting from the top and going down. The first movement is exactly like writing a 1. The second stroke starts at the top and then crosses the first stroke by moving horizontally to the right.

It is easy to see how a student could be confused about where to start and how to determine the direction and/or angle of the rest of the stroke in order to form any of these numerals.

To reduce this confusion, we will separate the numerals into groups which require identical or similar strokes. In a cursive writing program, we would teach groups of letters with identical or similar strokes. So, why not do the same with forming numbers and letters.

• The initial group consists of 1 and 7.
• The second set is comprised of 2, 3, and 9.
• The third set is made up of 0, 1, 6, and 8.
• The final set has only the numeral 4 because it is the only one that requires two positioning of the pencil and two distinct movements.

See/Trace Numerals

Some students are capable of seeing an example and copying it. Others require more careful guidance as seen in tracing the numerals. Copies of the required practice sheets for tracing numerals are appended to this document.

See / Write Numerals

The student is provided with a model of the numeral. A dot indicates the starting point. An arrow designates the direction of the stroke. One or more numerals using the same types of strokes can be initiated at the same time. If the student cannot create 50-60 strokes per minute should be given the task of tracing the numerals first. Once they have achieved 50 – 60 strokes per minute tracing numerals, they can attempt the see/write numerals task.

When the student can create 50-60 numerals per minute for each of the four tasks, they can begin to write the entire set of numerals from 0-9.

Number writing from 0-9 is a second tool skill that indicates the speed and accuracy with which a student can produce readable numerals. This task is done for 30 seconds by having the Student and Student repeat the numbers on a sheet of lined paper as quickly and accurately as possible. Again Think/Say counting from 0-9 is generally a task with which the student is already fluent, so the speed of their pen or pencil will not be slowed by knowledge of the next number to be written. The model looks like this:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 repeated as often as possible for 30 seconds.

In order to See/Write the answers to 50 single-digit math facts, the students will need more than 125 numerals since many answers will demand two numerals. The fluency level is between 125 and 150 numerals per minute with no more than 2 errors. Once again, any numeral that cannot be deciphered on a hand-printed price tag is considered an error. The standard for fluency is 0-2 errors per minute.

Writing Letters in Cursive

Of course, a cursive writing program is not complete without writing letters in cursive. There are several features to be considered in the writing of individual cursive letters. Two of the principal features are:

1. Letters with and without serif.
2. Using upper case vs. lower case

If the students are learning to write lower case letters with serif, all of the letters are started on the line and go upwards and to the right .

Further Recommendations

Elizabeth Haughton and Jonathan Amey have done more work in cursive writing programs for students than I have. Anne Desjardins’ âBig Six,â the early work with Anne and Eric Haughton, is also something you should learn about, and start with effective instruction design.

Bonus: Check out the FREE lessons of the Maloney Method Digital Reading Program.