Yesterday was National Handwriting Day. I happen to have a natural inclination for handwriting that prompts people to ask, "Is that typed?" so celebrating handwriting is right up my alley. When I posted about this special day on Facebook, one person responded with, "If only it was celebrated in schools!" I can't speak for anyone else, but I celebrate it in my room every day.
Having said that, talk of handwriting is rarely a focus of mine during writing workshop unless we're specifically focusing on readability, it's becoming an issue with a certain student, or we're publishing. Otherwise, my writing workshop is focused on clear thinking of ideas and details. Yet I believe their handwriting during writing workshop is greatly affected by making handwriting a priority at other times of the day. Besides some short, simple letter formation lessons at the beginning of the year, I also believe handwriting can be taught and practiced authentically. So it's no surprise that the stack of handwriting workbooks in my room has yet to be touched.
There have been moments in my career when I've felt a tinge of guilt for retaining my fervor for handwriting in my classroom, but then I read Routman's words and feel validated. She speaks of the writing confidence, stamina, and fluency that comes with formal handwriting instruction. I'll add to that the readability and respect it shows for the audience which speaks, "I have something worthwhile to say, and I want you to be able to read it."
One of my goals as a teacher of writing is to convey to my students the power of their written words and the effect they leave on an audience. It matters not whether the writing is a small moment, persuasive letter, poem, procedural piece, an all-about book, or a love note. If the audience can't read it, the point is moot. Handwriting still matters.
P.S. Here's proof that kids can learn to use great handwriting without a workbook. Handwriting can be authentic and integrated.