Category Archives: Real Script

Real Script and LatDict

Every school year I am presented with a new group of gloriously diverse students, each with his/her own unique experiences and idiosyncrasies. The same can be said for their handwriting. Diverse times 21! And not just in the appearance of the letters they write, but the actual formation of the letters…the pathways they’ve developed over the years to form their numbers and letters. Everyone in this group writes legibly, some more than others, but efficiency is far more varied, as is comfort level. Most students, even the ones who have beautiful “handwriting” (quotes because we actually refer to handwriting as “script”), look uncomfortable when writing, perhaps even in pain. Walk into any classroom where students are writing (or just watch them at home) and you’ll see most hunched over their papers, heads tilted awkwardly, usually white-knuckling a pencil to death (pencil! gasp! wrong tool!), occasionally stopping to shake out their overtired wrists and hands.

It need not be so.

Over the last few weeks I’ve slowly introduced script to the students, Real Script. I’ve actually required them to use a pen when writing, and I’m constantly saying “Feet, elbows” to encourage proper posture. The kids have also heard, “Dance of the pen…” over and over as a reminder of the pleasurable experience writing CAN and SHOULD be.

Yesterday the class was enthusiastic about writing their names, so I showed them a video from Old Grouch’s Real Script resource to introduce Majuscular script. As we viewed and attempted our own versions of the various Majuscular forms, Old Grouch emailed us. We called, he enthusiastically shared his expertise, and we eventually moved on to the introduction of a new online resource, LatDict. For those at home who watched the previous videos about Latin verbs and their principal parts, this is a very useful resource, as is the Latdict video below.

I recorded some of our script session. Also, at the end, in order to get to recess, the kids needed to “spell out” <recess>, indicating their hypotheses about its structure by pausing between potential morphemes. Watch to the end to catch that. (I cut Ritvik off prematurely…he offered <success> as a relative.)

And finally, Old Grouch explains how to use LatDict. Also, at the end, when Noah asked, “How does he know all this stuff?”, Old Grouch provided some reflections on the Latin instruction of his youth. And we were all speaking Latin in the end!

A Proper Pen

Inspired by yesterday’s lesson on Real Script, Noah went home and got himself a pen with a real nib. He was quite proud to show it off today. Parents, fair warning, your child may be searching your pen collection at home, or requesting the purchase of a proper, heavy pen with a nib. At least I hope so!

Introduction to Real Script

We were treated to another session with Old Grouch yesterday, this time for an introduction to Real Script. Mrs. Sikora’s class joined us, as well.

Sydney, always the scientist, wondered about the need for cursive, where it came from, and why there is more than one style of writing. Old Grouch explained that the term ‘cursive’ has become a tainted word, unusable because it evokes images of a very specific form of writing – “school cursive”, the kind Mr. Allen learned when he was a boy. Cursive, in its original sense, denotes “running”, but not necessarily the kind of “running” script that demands “joining-up-ALL-letters” when writing a word, even when the result resembles a plate of Spaghetti Bolognese. Real Script is technically cursive, but a ligature only occurs when an exit stroke naturally allows it. Sorry audience, I’m getting ahead of myself. Follow the link above for more of an introduction, and watch the video. And stay tuned for more posts on Real Script. If we spark your curiosity, consider purchasing the Real Script resource.

Our curiosity was sparked by the structure of <cursive>. What is the base? That certainly looks like an <-ive> suffix. What are some relatives? Old Grouch got us started and actually shared with us the Latin root, cursivus – “running”, and its twin curr(ere). We had only briefly touched on twin base elements, so I knew a lesson was in order. Which leads to this morning’s opening activity.

I knew the students had heard about curr(ere) and cursivus the day before, but quickly discovered that most had missed the concept entirely. No problem! How would you spell <cursive>? This no longer requires specification. The students know to start building word sums. I sat back and watched <cur> + <si> + <ve>, and <cur> + <s> + <ive>, and <curs> + <ive>, and then, eventually, before I had said anything, <curse/> + <-ive>. We confirmed this structure with the Suffix Checker and moved on. What are some relatives? What about the twin base curr(ere)? Or is it cur(ere)?

Off to Etymonline.

The entry for ‘cursive’ suggested currere “to run”, (see current). We have learned to use the shortcut of simply typing in the Latin root, made possible by Douglas Harper’s brilliant organization ono Etymonline, to discover other related words. After doing so, we were able to make the following matrices for the twin base elements.


I must find a better way to display these twin base elements, something that makes the shared root and meaning obvious. I’d also like to come up with a way to share all of the other words that have derived from currere but which do not fit on this morphological matrix, like course, corridor, corral, and courier.

Real Script Webcast

Last Thursday we had the opportunity to share our Real Script experiences with the world! Actually, it was about a hundred people, which is still pretty cool. The webcast was organized by Sandie and Chad from Lexercise, an organization in the U.S. that aims to assist children with dyslexia. The students presented with poise and enthusiasm. Watch for yourself at this link or the video below.


What a week! We explored data analysis, refined our computation algorithms, developed specific inquiry questions for our “Food Issues Have a Global Impact” unit, grew groovy, colorful mustaches, and prepared for the assembly today (Thanks Sam, Nicky, Edouard, Mason, Sebastian, Roos, Robert, and Isabella for presenting!).

Old Grouch recently shared his latest Real Script video with us, a privilege offered to a select group of Real Spellers around the world. Yes, we’re boasting. How many classes have this kind of opportunity? The students are so proud and enthusiastic. We are learning more and more about the dance of the pen, from pen hold to exit strokes, and look forward to the upcoming video on ligatures. If you listen carefully, you can hear a relentless hum of activity from an attic workshop in the center of France.  Old Grouch is busy!

Script – Exit Stroke from ZIS Grade 5 on Vimeo.

I Knew it Would Happen…

For the last couple of days, whenever Chase and Ben were writing with their new dip pens, I would spot the precarious location of their ink jars and subtly move them to a spot I deemed safer. Big mistake. As you watch the video below you’ll notice the abrupt ending. No prizes for those who guess what happened.

Yes, I knocked over Ben’s ink jar. Unfazed, he soaked up as much of the ink as he could in a paper towel and wrung it back into the jar. Ben is one very committed scribe…and an understanding one!

Sorry Ben!

More Script from ZIS Grade 5 on Vimeo.

We’re Back!

And we’ve obviously been thinking about orthography and real script while away. I was in the room for a mere two minutes this morning before Ben said, “Look what I got in Italy.”

Chase said, “Yeah, me too.” And then Mason and Edouard shared their new, fancy writing tools. I think it’s pretty amazing that in our technology driven world, these kids find joy in such a dated, beautiful device. 5th grade boys bragging about their pens and jars of ink!

Good start to the day…