Thursday, February 18, 2010

Zeezok Publishing

Zeezok Publishing, established in 2003 is a company focused on serving the homeschool curriculum marketplace by offering unique products designed to "assist you in developing your family's love for God and country". It's not surprising that a company with such a mission carries a handwriting curriculum titled, "Presidential Penmanship" Zeezok Publishing sent our family the Getty Dubay Italic Style version of Presidential Penmanship for free in exchange for this review.

According to the publisher, Presidential Penmanship is appropriate for handwriting practice for grades 1-12. I personally do not see the need to practice handwriting at the Jr. High or High School levels of education, but it is helpful to know the curriculum is comprehensive enough to span a variety of grades. Presidential Penmanship is described on the packaging as "a supplemental handwriting program....based on the writings and quotes of America's founding fathers and presidents." In addition, the company suggests using the short quotes used in the primary years for memorization practice. They believe these quotes will become a foundation for future instruction in government and civics. The sixth grade level includes a "final exam" requiring the student to copy the Gettysburg Address.

I have never taught anything but block style handwriting to my children simply because it is what I knew.
Getty Dubay Italic Style handwriting has a few more curves to printed letters connecting them together much in the way traditional cursive writing does. Fans of Getty-Dubay Italic believe it develops neater handwriting by helping children who tend to struggle with letter reversals. According to research published by Portland State University, "The hand position and movements for the italic are natural and result in an easy flowing motion when writing." Presidential Penmanship is available in 6 different handwriting styles through ZeeZok Publishing.

My Presidential Penmanship Complete Program arrived as a computer CD-rom neatly packaged in a plastic box similar to packaging for DVD movies. There was no instruction booklet to read through, so I simply placed the CD in my computer to begin instruction. Unfortunately, there wer no detailed teaching instructions leaving me to interpret the numerous PDF files appearing on my computer screen on my own. After reading the package description printed on the back of the cover and opening several of the files I determined my student should spend one week each on a quote. All worksheets print from the CD and provide lined areas for printing practice. Each session of handwriting practice allowed for copying the quote once, but I printed a few extra practice pages provided just in case we would need them.

I chose to test drive Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program with my 2nd grade, left-handed student, Sierra. Being left-handed is not without its challenges especially when your teacher is right-handed. I always forget to remind Sierra to turn her paper the correct direction, etc. because she is a mirrored reflection of my habits. I hoped the simplicity of Presidential Penmanship and incorporation of Getty-Dubay Italic style would empower Sierra towards neater handwriting.

Week One of Presidential Penmanship, Grade One offers handwriting practice using the quote, "It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one." ~ G. Washington. The first day Sierra and I read and discussed the quote's meaning plus spent time remembering George Washington and his importance to our country. Sierra followed up our discussion by tracing inside bubbled letters that directed her strokes and placement. By having the mini history lesson first and following it with handwriting practice, the lesson seemed natural and purposeful.

Day 2 of the week was spent tracing over pre-printed letters and then following with an "On Your Own" section to practice writing the quote without prompts or helpful guidelines. The third and final day of week one of Presidential Penmanship was spent identical to day two. Students were expected to trace over pre-printed letters before trying to write the quote solo. Each day's practice took Sierra approximately 10 minutes to complete; an easy thing to incorporate into any day.

Sierra seemed to enjoy Presidential Penmanship. When asked for her opinion she eagerly shared. "I really liked it because it shows you how the letters should be so I always remember. I learned a little about the Presidents too", she said. A lifetime fan of Abe Lincoln she added, "I can't wait to do Abraham Lincoln. That will be awesome."

Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program retails at for $39.99. It is available on CD or in e-book instant downloadable formats. Sample pages can be viewed on the company website. For customers not wanting the comprehensive version of the program separate grade level options may be purchased for $9.99 each.

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