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Handwriting to Writing: one leap or many hops?. Angela Webb 22 nd March 2014. A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION…. “How is it that a child can write well in a handwriting lesson but does not transfer that skill into classwork?” What can we do about it?. The Simple View of Writing. Translation

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Handwriting to writing one leap or many hops

Handwriting to Writing:one leap or many hops?

Angela Webb

22nd March 2014

A frequently asked question

“How is it that a child can write well in a handwriting lesson but does not transfer that skill into classwork?”

What can we do about it?

The simple view of writing
The Simple View of Writing


Words, sentences, paragraphs.

Working memory


Handwriting, keyboarding,


Executive functions

Planning, review

Adapted from Berninger & Amtmann (2003)

2 how do we solve this a two pronged approach
2.How do we solve this?(A two-pronged approach)

1. Modify the expectations of the teachers while you work

(particularly in the short term)

Suggested hops
Suggested ‘hops’ structured hops.


  • The process – how the child writes

  • The product – the written script

    Target intervention only to those parts which need fixing.

4 p s process
4 ‘P’s (Process) structured hops.

  • Posture

  • Paper position

  • Pen grip

  • Pressure

7 s rules product
7 ‘S’ Rules (Product) structured hops.

  • Shape

  • Size

  • Spacing

  • Sitting on the line

  • Slant

  • Speed

  • Sustainability

A case study
A Case-Study structured hops.


  • Age 12 years

  • Mainstream secondary school

  • Left-handed

  • Problems of legibility (but not of speed)

  • DASH percentile ranking = 64%

  • Copy Best-Copy Fast difference = 12 wpm

Hop 1 look at the finished product use the s rules
Hop 1 structured hops.. Look at the finished product. Use the ‘S’ rules.

Evaluation of billy s handwriting
Evaluation of Billy’s handwriting structured hops.








Prioritise what to work on
Prioritise what to work on structured hops.

  • Extending the writing horizontally.

  • Rounding the curved letters.

  • Correcting mis-alignment.

  • Keeping ascenders and descenders parallel.

You can t achieve everything at one go practise by building
You can’t achieve everything at one go: practise by building

  • Begin with the most important and practise.

  • Add a 2nd element.

    Practise on its own then add it to No.1.

    3. Add a 3rd element.

    Practise then add it to 1 + 1.

    4. Add the 4th. Practise on its own then add 1 + 2.

Hop 2 lesson 1 moving across the page
Hop 2. buildingLesson 1 Moving across the page

Hop 3 lesson 2 rounding letters
Hop 3. buildingLesson 2 Rounding letters

Hop 4 lesson 3 correcting mis alignment
Hop 4. buildingLesson 3 Correcting mis-alignment

Hop 5 lesson 4 making vertical strokes parallel
Hop 5. buildingLesson 4 Making vertical strokes parallel

Further hops
Further ‘hops’ building

Set him/her a series of graded tasks in which the cognitive load of each (in terms of spelling, sentence length, composition, etc.) increases gradually.

(N.B. Ensure that the correct handwriting is used at each stage. If it is not, do not proceed to the next level of difficulty).

Hop 6 most common bigrams in order
Hop 6. buildingMost common bigrams (in order)

th he in en

nt re er an

ti es on at

se nd or ar

al te co de

to ra et ed

it sa em ro

And tri grams in order
…and tri-grams (in order) building

  • the and tha ent

  • ing ion tio for

  • nde has nce edt

  • tis oft sth men

Hop 7 100 most common words
Hop 7. building100 most common words

the of and a to in is you

that it he was for on are as

with his they I at be this have

from or one had by word but not what all were we when your can

said there use an each which she

do how their if will up other

about out many then them these so some her would make like him into

100 most common words cont
100 most common words (cont.) building

time haslooktwomore write go

see number nowaycould people my

than firstwaterbeencallwho oilits

now findlong downdaydidget

come mademaypart

Keep writing tasks simple
Keep writing tasks simple building

  • Copying (but move on quite quickly).

  • Short dictation of CVC words better (see below).

  • Simple close exercises (see below).

Hop 8 cvc sentences for dictation from alpha to omega
Hop 8. buildingCVC sentences for dictation(from Alpha to Omega)

Gradually increase task complexity
Gradually increase task complexity building

  • Simple stories – cloze.

  • Simple narrative.

  • More complex narrative.

  • Free writing.

Hop 9
Hop 9 building

From Headwork 2


Jo had a radio. She got it in a jumble sale. It was a very strange radio. One day when Jo was listening to the six o’clock 1 a very strange thing happened. A hand came 2 of the radio and got hold of Jo’s face. Jo was very 3 . She 4 the comic she was reading. She 5 her cup of tea off the arm of her chair.

Jo picked up the 6 . She stared at it. Then the 7 came out again. This time is got hold of Jo’s left 8 . Jo jumped back. Jo got very upset. She grabbed the radio and ran into the kitchen . She put the radio in the sink and turned on 9 taps. The water filled the sink. Jo heard a voice coming out of the radio. It said, “Help me! Help me! Please help me. I’m 10 .

The child reads and selects words then retells the story orally
The child reads and selects words. buildingThen retells the story orally.

Hop 10
Hop 10. building

  • Ask the child to create their own narrative.

  • You scribe.

  • S/he chooses the key words.

  • S/he writes it.