Handwriting for the Brain

This morning I went to a handwriting workshop.  My district is adopting a new Handwriting program (Handwriting Without Tears) so this morning the primary teachers in the district were trained to use the program.  Being the queen of multitasking, not only was I learning about the program, I was thinking about the brain.  I was thinking about those tricks that we can use so that learning is more apt to happen.  Here are some ideas that crossed my mind based on yesterday's blog ideas:
  • Move:  Yep, there was movement.  Several times.  We started with a moving activity (moving and tapping the straight lines models from the program, which are about the size of rulers.)  He did some "echo activities" (my turn, your turn) during the movement activities which make that sort of thing fun for little learners, and made sure they watched or listen to the model before they jumped into action. Of course, the primary teachers had no problems playing along.  He got us moving several times during the 3 hour presentation, nicely spaced at regular intervals so we never got too antsy.  It was, after all, the first time most of us had to sit for any period of time in a while.  (We work with primary children, we never sit!) Even when we were seated, we were physically involved with many of the manipulatives that are part of the program.
  • Work together:  Yep, we managed to do some working together.  We took turns being "teacher and student" for one of the activities.  He also discussed a couple of other ways we can have the little ones use their social skills while practicing their Handwriting.  Those social interactions really help the brain make those connections!
  • Coping with Stress:  With all that moving, things hardly got stressful.  Movement within itself is a stress reliever.  I think the only stressful part of this morning's presentation were the side conversations teachers were having about not being able to get their rooms set up.  But all the movement eased that stress.
  • The Arts:  Music was the art of the day today.  We heard several songs on the CD and got to sing along to a few.  Of course, movement (and dance) are another art, which also played a big part of today's presentation.  As he was describing how to use the materials, he also made mention of other arts such as drawing and painting, as well as the use of items like clay to help those little ones develop their handwriting muscles.  The Arts are definitely an important part of Handwriting. 
  • Make 'em Laugh:  There were several funny things that came out during today's program.  The presenter did mention that it's hard to make Handwriting funny, so he sticks in jokes wherever he can.  He snuck in all sorts of silly little things, like calling the miniature sponges we used for tracing on chalkboards "Barbie sponges".  Yep, they were just about the right size. 
Well, these aspects of brain based learning were well covered.  As expected, my brain was engaged and I learned! 

I also noticed the presenter was focused on the use of multi sensory activities and using activities that were developmentally appropriate for the children.  He also had some clever stories that the children could connect with to help remember the steps of making each letter.  I particularly liked the lower case e story. 

I definitely applaud this presenter for using his brain... and our brains... for today's presentation.  Now if he'd learn to choose the right baseball team! (He was a Yankees fan,  Not a good idea to let out that information so close to Boston!)

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