New technology is helping teachers model handwriting in a more natural way
Teaching handwriting to an entire class of students at the same time has always been a compromise. A teacher has always had to stand at a white board to show a class how to form letters, words, and sentences. Usually a whiteboard marker is used; modern technology has sometimes replaced a whiteboard marker with a digital pen that uses an interactive white board (IWB) or, more recently, an interactive projector.
But that’s far from ideal. The problems with these models include:
- When standing at a board, there are usually students who cannot see what is being written. This is just the nature of a classroom with desks. Having students sit on the floor in front of the whiteboard may reduce this problem, but then there is then no room and no flat surface for a student to place a book in order to duplicate the writing skills being taught.
- Teaching writing also involves teaching how to hold a pen. However, holding a pen to write on a vertical white board is different to holding a pen normally to write on paper on a desk. Thus, it is difficult for the teacher to model the correct grip.
- A whiteboard marker (or pen for an IWB) is considerably larger than a traditional pen. It is sometimes a different shape and thickness. Thus, it is difficult to hold the pen the same way a child should hold the pen which makes it almost impossible to model the correct grip.
- Use of an IWB may also produce other problems (unless the school provides one of the newer ultra-short throw projectors). These include:
- Shadows cast by the person standing at the board affecting part of the image.
- Light from the projector shining in the eyes of the person standing at the board.
The entire process is a compromise.
All of these problems can be eliminated by the use of the appropriate technology.