Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Retro Baby Wins Award!!!!

My parenting book, "Retro Baby" wins a gold!!!!

"The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, which include fifty-five categories recognizing excellence in book editorial and design, are regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers.

The Awards are administered by IBPA, with help from over 160 book publishing professionals including librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, publicity managers, and editors. The Benjamin Franklin Awards are unique in that the entrants receive direct feedback on their titles. The actual judging forms are returned to all participating publishers.

Prestige as a publisher is one of the many benefits of being named as a winner of this distinguished award. In addition, Gold winners receive an engraved crystal trophy."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cursive Handwriting: The Debate Continues

The state of Tennessee recently passed HOUSE BILL 1697, by Butt requiring all public schools in the state to include cursive handwriting instruction before the end of 3rd grade.

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10 - relative to curriculum.

Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10, is amended by adding the following language as a new section: 49-6-10.

The course of instruction in all public schools shall include cursive writing so that
students will be able to create readable documents through legible cursive handwriting
by the end of the third grade.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring

-Please click on comments and share your thoughts and opinions on this topic!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Size Matters Handwriting Program

In the Size Matters Handwriting Program, the intangible is personified and the invisible is rendered in color.

We’re talking Meatball Man and his recipe for spacing.

Uniform spacing is especially difficult for students to master because by its very name… it’s amorphous.  It’s not there.

Instead, make it come to life by coloring your children’s empty spaces as though they had just served you a fine platter of Spaghetti and Meatballs.

In between each of the letters in a word, draw a straight strand of Spaghetti.   Ideally, there should be room for only one.   Use a yellow colored pencil to distinguish your spaghetti lines from the child’s printing.  If there is still empty space between the letters, draw another.  And another.  And another.  From above the Top Line to Below the Bottom.

These are the INSIDE spaces.  In other words, Spaghetti lines are drawn inside of a word.

To score Inside spaces, count all the potential Spaghetti spaces.  There should be one less than the number of letters in the word.  That’s your denominator.  Star above the places where only one strand of Spaghetti fits.  Count the stars.  That number is your numerator.

OUTSIDE SPACES are home to Meatballs.  Nice, evenly sized meatballs.  To start, identify an outside space that appears just right between two words.  Or one that is the width of 1-3 letters.  That’s your model meatball space.   Using a red colored pencil, draw equal sized meatballs in between each word.

Next, count all the potential meatballs.  There should be one less than the number of words.  If children do not crowd the right margin, or… if their writing continues on the next line but the letters do not trail up or down on the right side…  give them a free meatball.   That is your denominator.

Star the meatballs that are the same size.  The meatballs cannot overlap the letters nor have extra space on either side.  In other words, if it looks like a meatloaf would fill the space, do NOT give it a star.  The star total is your numerator.

Easy peasy.

Need more information.  Maybe all the ingredients to help your children become neat printers?  Go to:  www.realOTsolutions.

And write, please:  bev[at]
 I'm happy to answer your questions.

Let’s print together.  Mangia!!

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Size Matters Handwriting Program!

Are you seeing Stars?

You should soon!

In fact, you’ll be creating them!

Stars are currency in the Size Matters Handwriting Program.  Stars are earned when children make letters touching the writing lines in all the right places.  The significance of building a running constellation across a page is that children are incentivized to make more.

Besides, it helps them keep score.  Children can score themselves and each other.  They can even compete against themselves (or each other).  Self-monitoring is one of hallmarks of best practice as it is linked to follow through and carryover.

Whether you are home or in a classroom, the formula for data collection is such basic algebra… we all can master it.  First, count all the numbers printed.  Place that total in the denominator.  Next, count all the letters that were Star-Worthy.  Place that total in the numerator.  Ta-Da!  It’s that easy.

Practice 3 letters at a time.  They can be three of the same letters, 3 random letters or a 3-letter word.  Work up to 10 or 20 letters.  Calculating percentages are fastest at that point.

To start, select only Size One letters since the Rule is the same for all.  It is recommended to begin with the upper case series since every letter is a Size One.  Practice 6-7 at a time.  Aim for 80% accuracy before selecting another group.  Once achieving success with the upper case series, move on to Size One lower case, then Size Two and finally Size Three.

Resist the temptation to score spacing until you get 80% accuracy with Size.

And you will.

At that point, we’ll be ready for a nice Italian dinner.
Spaghetti and Meatballs, anyone?

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Guest Post by Dr. Beverly Moskowitz, OT & Handwriting Expert!

 We call it our Song and Dance.
The Rules for Letter Size, that is.

These are the lyrics for Size One Letters:  
Size One Letters….
                        They have to touch the Top Line
                        They have to touch the Bottom Line
                        They can’t go higher
                        They can’t go lower
                        And they can’t float in the middle.

The dance moves include motioning toward an imaginary Top Line, motioning to an imaginary Bottom Line, twirling a finger upward, twirling a finger downward and finally making a waving motion alternately with both hands in the middle.

Were you expecting a Top 10?   Sorry.  (Although, it looks a lot better in person!)

But the point is that the kids love it… AND remember it.  It’s a sound bite.  This is the Rule that we repeat over and over and over again.  Like a mantra.  Before your children print a Size One letter, and especially if they’ve printing a letter the wrong size, review the Rule.  Ask the students to sing and dance with you.  Then ask them to score their printing.

Based on the Rule, children will be able to critique each letter.  If it is touching the Writing Lines in all the right places, it is Star-Worthy.  Draw a star overtop.  If it is not…. Underline it.  All the underlined letters earn a roll of the dice.  In this way, you can sneak extra handwriting practice into any writing activity, for any subject and at any time of the day.

Did that seem too simple?  I have a secret for you.  It is.

But don’t take my word for it.  Let’s talk evidence.

The Size Matters Handwriting Program underwent the largest research study ever on handwriting.  Over 200 students from 2 states, one rural (upstate New York) and one urban (Massachusetts) participated in an 8 week intervention.  There were 3 grades—Kindergarten, First and Second, and a control and intervention group in each grade.  Three different standardized or norm-referenced tests were given at 3 different intervals—to develop a Baseline, as a Pretest and lastly, as a Posttest.

The results for the Intervention groups in all 3 grades in both schools showed differences in the change scores from Pretest to Posttest at a .001 level.  What this means is that there is a 99.9% chance that change happened because of the treatment.  The statistician who ran the data was so impressed, he wrote the result section himself.

This is huge.  The emphasis on Letter Size became the light bulb in the pursuit of legibility.  The Control teachers were so impressed by the immediate and dramatic change in the treatment group’s printing that they couldn’t wait for the study to be over.  They wanted to turn their students onto the Size Matters concepts, too.

The journal article has been submitted.  We are waiting a publication date.  Once we are queued up, we will send up the flares.  Write to me:  bev[@] to share the hot news.


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Friday, May 2, 2014

Guest Post by Dr. Beverly Moskowitz, OT & Handwriting Expert!

There is nothing glamorous about it.

If you want to get better at something, you have to practice.

Practice is the key to improving motor skills, especially in a skill as refined as handwriting.  While it would also seem to make sense to build core strength, address perceptual dysfunction, develop in-hand manipulation skills and heighten kinesthetic awareness, research shows that these components do not have the same level of impact as direct skill instruction, verbal feedback and practice, practice, practice.

But there are ways to make practice fun, repetition meaningful and carryover possible.

In the Size Matters Handwriting Program, dice are used to determine practice.  I like to tell children to select a die that is calling their name.  Then I show them a container of 4-sided, 6-sided, 8, 10, 12 and 20-sided dice.  The dice are speckled, marbleized, iridescent and translucent.  They are small and large, numbered and with pips.  Some are in Spanish and some in Roman Numerals.  In a word, they’re adorable.  To be honest, if you have any dice in your homes or schools, they’re adorable, too.

More important is that your kids are given a say in their practice.  Research shows that when children are included in the decision-making, they work more willingly and longer.  It can come down to the mere roll of the dice.  Whatever your child rolls is the number of times s/he must print a Star-Worthy letter… and we have to accept it.  Even if it’s a one.

The fact that we, as the adults and teachers, have to respect a child’s dice roll is extremely empowering.  It helps the children own their practice.  And it is this ownership that feeds the Buy-In.

Game-like.  Motivating.  Achievable.  Realistic.

So appealing is the Dice Game that when children hear the subtle clicking of die during any writing assignment, they start thinking Letter Size.  No matter where.  No matter when.

Learn more at

Let the singing and dancing begin!

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