In my last post I discussed the phenomenon of pile on—asking kids to do work that is above their instructional and developmental level.
This phenomenon occurs right away in kindergarten where kids are expected to learn how to write lists, narratives, information, and opinion pieces before learning to print the letters. Pinellas County Schools recommends that teachers provide handwriting instruction only twice a week for five minutes.
The fact is, it is expected that at the end of the year kindergarteners will produce narratives in barely legible scrawl.
It has been that way for many years. We see the results of this practice at our Center—middle and high school students whose handwriting is barely legible. Many of these same students hate writing—perhaps because writing was difficult for them right from the start, having been asked to write full texts prior to mastering the letters.
In the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, the previous set of Florida standards, kindergarteners were expected to learn the following writing process:
5. Producing a finished piece of writing 1
The same standards said that by the end of kindergarten students will “print many of the upper and lower case letters and recognize the difference between the two.”
In the new set of standards, LAFS (Language Arts Florida Standards), the following benchmark is given for the end of kindergarten: “Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is…).”
Again the standards say that the student will “Print many upper- and lowercase letters.” 2