Friday, January 13, 2006

National Handwriting Day

Today is National Handwriting Day, in celebration of John Hancock's birthday. Take part by writing a note to someone in your own personal script. Have your students put extra effort into their handwriting today. Create an oversized birthday card to John Hancock and have each member of your class write an anonymous message in their best handwriting. Let the class try to guess the author of the message based on the handwriting alone.

If you think handwriting is a lost skill in the age of computers, think again! High school students taking the SATs are now required to hand write a two page essay in 25 minutes. This requires thinking and writing quickly! Handwriting is not counted, but it does have to be legible in order to be scored.

In school, writing by hand is one of the most common ways we expect students to demonstrate their acquired knowledge. Making it an automatic and effortless skill is essential in order for students to concentrate on the content of what they are expressing. Unfortunately, many students struggle with this basic task. Here is a nice exercise to experience "graphomotor" difficulty. Imagine how it may interfere with school performance. Go to :

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Smile Break

A good way to start the new year is with a smile. Smiling is highly contagious and can quickly circulate within the school. It is one way to make our brains produce endorphins, important for pain control, peace and well-being.

Here's an experiment you can do to feel the actual benefits of smiling. Clench a pen horizontally between your teeth and grin. How do you feel? Next, hold the pen horizontally between your lips in front of your teeth and try to grin as wide. How does this feel? Most people don't feel as happy with the pen between their lips because it doesn't activate all the facial muscles involved in smiling. You get a more positive feeling when your whole face smiles!

Often we have students take a movement break to stretch muscles. Did you know we use 17 muscles when we smile? Why not have the class take a smile break? Visit this website for more information: