Modern Italic Handwriting
Jim Bennett, BFA, MFA
CURRICULUM FOR K - Grade 4
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Modern Italic is a contemporary version of a handwriting style which originated during the Italian Renaissance. This style is beautiful, legible, and can be written rapidly.
There are numerous advantages to teaching Modern italic. The conclusion reached after eight years of teaching Italic in the classroom, is that students find this style easy and fun to learn. As they mature, their handwriting maintains an obvious superiority over the handwriting of students who have learned other styles. Simply stated, they can write faster and their handwriting is more attractive.
This is a one-alphabet approach. We call the letters "one stroke letters." These letters are based on a simple, uncomplicated shape which is completely natural for the hand.
The student first learns to print the alphabet and then during the second half of first grade, learns how to begin joining the letters together. By mid-year in second grade, students are writing cursive. All the steps from print to cursive are so natural and logical that many students will anticipate what comes next even before the teacher shows them.
Nothing that the student learns is ever discarded - everything is important and part of a logical building process. The printed alphabet that is taught in kindergarten is the same alphabet that students will use throughout. The "ball and stick" manuscript that is taught in many schools and then discarded when students are taught cursive is educationally unsound and can be extremely discouraging to students.
The one alphabet approach not only makes for rapid development of handwriting skills, but also provides continuous reinforcement of both printing and writing. As a result, students who learn Italic are extremely proficient in printing as well as cursive writing.
This curriculum was developed and tested in the classroom at Wakefield School in Marshall, Virginia over a 10 year period.
The main purpose of these lessons is to provide the students with a really positive handwriting experience which is both an introduction to and a solid foundation for First Grade. The curriculum provides 15 - 20 minute lessons twice a week. Lessons may be repeated in between.
Learning Objectives: identify any writing problems and provide positive remedies, use good posture, use correct pencil hold, use the pencil without tension in the hand and with correct presure on the paper, move the pencil at the appropriate speed, form letter shapes with good control and rhythm, place letters correctly on ruled paper, write his or her name.
Materials: Student activity sheets and teacher's guide. Additional alphabet practice sheets are available upon request.
First grade instruction covers: posture, pencil hold, the printed Italic alphabet, and beginning cursive. This curriculum incorporates "check point" safeguards to insure that the students progress at a pace which is most conducive to the development of good, lifelong handwriting skills. The curriculum provides 4 - 5 twenty minute lessons per week.
Learning Objectives: Sit with good posture, use a relaxed pencil hold, write on ruled primary paper using correct size and placement, print the Italic capitals and lower-case letters with ease, write the lower case letters with serifs, join letters together four ways, write on standard wide-ruled notebook paper.
Materials: Student activity sheets, teacher's lesson guide, motivational strategies.
Handwriting instruction in Second Grade incorporates a review of handwriting skills from the first grade and also the building of new skills. In the beginning of the year, we concentrate on mastering the printed alphabet. Complete mastery of the printed alphabet is important for students who are beginning the program at this grade level as well as for students who were taught Italic in First Grade.
The next step is the addition of serifs to the lower-case letters. This is followed by an in-depth presentation of all the joins. From that point, the students progress to smaller size writing and to developing a smooth rhythm to their writing. All the foundational skills are covered and refined. The curriculum provides 4 twenty minute lessons per week.
Learning Objectives: Demonstrate good posture and pencil hold, be thoroughly proficient in printing the Italic alphabet, write the cursive form of Italic easily and with good speed on wide-ruled paper.
Materials: Student activity sheets, teacher's lesson guide, material for additional lesson activities, motivational material.
The emphasis at this grade level is upon further development and refinement of fundamental skills. This is a critical stage for the students, because this is the time when they should begin writing smoothly and fluidly without having to premeditate the formation of each letter as they are writing. The third year is usually the time when students make the final transition from drawing the letters to actual writing.
Unfortunately, this is the time when many students are prone to regress or pick up undesirable habits. For this reason, the pace of the third year program is slower than previous years. More time is spent doing "trace and copy" practice and working on building writing speed without sacrificing neatness and legibility. The curriculum provides 20 minute lessons, three to four times a week; however, handwriting is stressed in other subjects such as spelling, vocabulary, and composition writing.
Learning Objectives: use Italic printing proficiently in a variety of applications, demonstrate proficiency in writing Italic cursive fluidly and with speed, use a pen for writing.
Materials: Student activity sheets, teacher's lesson guide which incorporates material for expanding handwriting into other areas, motivational material.
Handwriting instruction at this level is important, because it forms an essential part of a bridge between the beginning years of learning to write and the years in which the students will be expected to demonstrate a mature handwriting style.
The developmentof writing speed is a primary goal. The curriculum provides for two twenty minute lessons per week. In addition, there are handwriting projects and an introduction to calligraphic lettering.
Learning Objectives: use Italic printing proficiently in a variety of applications, print the Roman alphabet using the correct letter shapes and proportions, demonstrate proficiency in writing cursive fluidly at a speed of approximately 90 letters per minute, use a pen proficiently for all types of writing.
Materials: Student activity sheets, teacher's lesson guide, material for projects, motivational material.
Click Here to See Examples of Student Handwriting
Additional Information - Contact:
39 Meyer Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Tel. (513) 290-7517
The original copies of the student activity sheets were created by me entirely by hand, to the exact size, using no mechanical means. They have a distinct handmade appearance.
Materials for each grade are $48
for the first order (includes 25 page Writing Italic guide which covers
all grades). If you have used the program previously, the cost is just
$40 (does not include the 25 page Writing Italic guide). The additional
52 alphabet practice sheets which can be used for Pre-K, Kindergarten,
and First Grade are $17. The complete curricula with all materials for
grades K - 4 may be purchased for $150.
You may also send a personal check or money order to me
at the above address.
You may also send a personal check or money order to me at the above address.
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