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As recently as a half-century ago, young American students would spend many lessons writing curved loops and diagonal lines, as they learned how to write in cursive. Over the years, though, computer keyboards and voice to text programs have replaced pens and pencils, and made handwriting — especially cursive — less relevant.
But it hasn’t disappeared. St. Luke Catholic School in McLean, Virginia, still teaches cursive. Several times a week, students work on their handwriting skills, clutching their pencils and pens as they practice forming neat loops and curls.
Teacher Grace O’Connor says eventually, all of them will have a style all their own. “The great thing about cursive is everyone has his own little spin to it, like, you know how to form your letters, but as you get older you, kind of, develop your own flow to your cursive writing, and it’s yours,” she says. “You can take ownership of it, which is really great.”
Cursive engages multiple senses
Cursive handwriting is emerging as a learning tool for students with dyslexia, a disorder that makes it difficult to read or interpret letters, words and other symbols.
Thirteen-year-old Joseph was diagnosed with dyslexia four years ago, when he was in third grade. “It was hard,” he recalls. “At first, I hadn’t known anything about it. So, I thought it was like the end of the world. So, I was, like, scared, but I had also known that eventually there would be a way for me to get past it.”
He’s “getting past it” with help from therapist Deborah Spear. She visits Joseph’s school several times a week for extra one-on-one practice sessions on cursive writing.
Spear says practicing handwriting, especially cursive, helps these kids become better readers. The distinct curves and shapes are more likely to be retained in memory.
“We always teach the students that their hands will help them read,” she adds. “They’re very aware they learn through all of their senses. So, we always start with sky writing.”
For that, the students write a letter in the air with their fingers and name the letter at the exact same time they are writing it.
“We’re using the large shoulder muscle at that point,” Spear explains. “Then, we start with very large papers sometimes. So, we start to establish the gross motor movement before we let them hold the pencil, and they have to hold the pencil correctly. The other piece of it is that every handwriting letter is integrated into the letter’s name and that letter’s sound.”
In addition to handwriting, Spear finds that spelling is a useful learning tool. “So, when their spelling is smooth, they are integrating that sense in breaking a word down, then they’re able to read it back after they’ve been able to break it down,” she adds.
Connecting the letters on paper helps students see each letter more distinctly, a benefit Spear says they don’t get from typing.
“Even if you’re able to touch type, just waggling the fingers is not the same as engaging the whole muscle of the arm in handwriting. When you wiggle your fingers, you’re not really differentiating between a ‘b’ and a ‘d’, for example, or an ‘m’ and an ‘n’. But when you’re handwriting, you’re making that distinction.”
Joseph says that’s exactly how practicing handwriting helped him read better and faster.
“When I do the handwriting motions, it’s like my hand remembers it,” he explains. “So, my brain starts remembering the letters and the words. Then, when I see these words, I remember the words when I’m reading. So, that helped a lot.”
Better writers, better students
Teacher Grace O’Connor says the extra handwriting practice helped the students gain confidence and perform better in class.
“I feel like they have a heightened sense of pride at their work from getting this extra help because it’s allowing them the opportunity to use strategies they’re learning one-on-one. So, they can be more confident in the classroom and working with the whole group on cursive writing.”
St. Luke staffer Kevin Cyrow says learning to write in cursive can help all students, not only dyslexic ones.
“A lot of memory issues are involved in it,” he says. “So, in order for a student to do well in a test or just remember things in general, it’s really important for them to write down. So I hope we’ll never lose it.” Lessons for life, no matter how much they will use cursive handwriting in the years to come. (VOA)
Hackers have stolen crypto tokens worth $120 million from Blockchain-based decentralised finance (DeFi) platform BadgerDAO. Several crypto wallets were drained before the platform could stop the cyber attack. In a tweet, Badger said it has received reports of unauthorised withdrawals of user funds. "As Badger engineers investigate this, all smart contracts have been paused to prevent further withdrawals. Our investigation is ongoing and we will release further information as soon as possible," the company said late on Thursday.
According to the blockchain security and data analytics Peckshield, the various tokens stolen in the attack are worth about $120 million, reports The Verge. According to reports, someone inserted a malicious script in the user interface (UI) of their website. Badger has retained data forensics experts Chainalysis to explore the full scale of the incident and authorities in both the US and Canada have been informed. "Badger is cooperating fully with external investigations as well as proceeding with its own," it said. DeFi is a collective term for financial products and services that are open, decentralised and accessible to anyone. DeFi products open up financial services to anyone with an internet connection and they are largely owned and maintained by their users. While the attack didn't reveal specific flaws within Blockchain tech itself, it managed to exploit the older "web 2.0" technology that most users need to use to perform transactions, according to reports. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: crypto wallets, BadgerDAO, decentralised finance, Blockchain, 120 million, crypto tokens, Hackers)
A total of 120 top Bollywood and other celebrities are expected to attend the wedding of film stars Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal which is scheduled on December 9 in Rajasthan, said Rajendra Kishan, the District Collector (DC) of Sawai Madhopur district of the state on Friday. The District Collector told mediapersons: "These 120 guests shall follow all COVID-19 protocols and fully vaccinated guests will get entry in the much-hyped celebrity wedding."
Kishan said that the organisers have been asked to strictly follow all Covid-19 protocols. Also, those who are not vaccinated, will not be allowed without the negative RT-PCR test report, he added. "We have been informed by organisers that a total of 120 guests are invited to the wedding and the events will take place between December 7 to December 10," he added.
Earlier at 10.30 a.m., Kishan called a meeting which was attended by administrative, police and forest department officials, hotel and event managers to ensure adequate arrangements for crowd control, smooth regulation of traffic, and law and order situation amid the VIP movement. The wedding venue Fort Barwara, that has been converted into a heritage hotel, is situated in the panchayat samiti Chauth Ka Barwara. The venue is around 22 km away from Sawai Madhopur and is around 174 km from Jaipur. Sawai Madhopur district is famous for the Ranthambore National Tiger Reserve and as per reports, the guests are likely to be taken for a tiger safari. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Rajasthan, December 9, Vicky Kaushal, Katrina Kaif, film stars, celebrities, Bollywood, Katrina-Vicky)
The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), which confirmed the first two cases of the Omicron variant in Bengaluru on Thursday, is continuously monitoring the situation in four cities - Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune. The NCBS is a part of a consortium of national laboratories performing genomic surveillance across four city clusters. The consortium was established four months ago with support from The Rockefeller Foundation's Pandemic Prevention Institute, and is led by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.
Dr Rakesh Mishra at the CCMB said on Friday that the consortium is continuously monitoring the situation in all the four cities and has upscaled its efforts to sequence as many samples as possible Apart from the CCMB and the NCBS, the consortium includes CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology - IGIB in New Delhi and the Pune Knowledge Cluster, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune.
The first case of the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization on November 24. | Unsplash
The consortium is focused on upscaling genomic surveillance as part of national efforts led by the INSACOG - Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium - to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. The consortium intensified its sequencing efforts after the World Health Organisation announced Omicron as a Variant of Concern. Such an intensified effort enabled the Bengaluru team at the NCBS, a member laboratory of INSACOG, in collaboration with Strand Life Sciences and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), to detect, rapidly sequence and verify the existence of the omicron variant in samples from two Covid-19 infected individuals.
They hope this will aid in a rapid response to contain the spread of variants of concern. Prof Satyajit Mayor from the NCBS conveyed the information to local and national authorities, and the Indian government released a statement on December 2, all within four days of receiving the samples. Both SARS-CoV-2 genomes have also been uploaded to the global repository for SARS-CoV-2 sequences, GISAID, so that they can be publicly available to the scientific community, the NCBS said. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Hyderabad, New Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru, The National Centre for Biological Sciences, Situation, NCBS, Omicron)