In June 2011, Carmel Bozarth, a Title 1 First Grade Level Specialist, reached out to me via email regarding the potential purchase of Handwriting Heroes for the Washington County School District. She wrote that “Handwriting Heroes goes hand in hand with the Simple View of Writing presented in our LETRS training. It meets
Introduction: My name is Kristen Shawley. I am a first grade teacher in a rural school. I had the opportunity to first implement the Handwriting Heroes program in the spring of 2022. I saw amazing results in the short time that we had to work through this program and I
There is no question that the world has entered a new age of technology, we do everything digitally now, hand written letters have become charmingly quaint rarities, and the idea of submitting a school essay or work article in cursive ink on paper seems archaic, even unprofessional. We shouldn’t be
“That’s coming along great. You’re getting so much better, keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve really improved!” It is wonderful watching our students use their handwriting skills every day and seeing them go from carefully forming a letter to writing it with automaticity. As letter formation gets easier, and recognition
Brain Science and Handwriting The Areas of the Brain involved in Handwriting Learning handwriting is glorious for the brain, it helps us become better readers by forging new connections and strengthening ones that already exist. That sounds great, but how does it happen? What is going on in the brain
Learning handwriting improves reading skills! How does that happen? Well, we can thank NEUROPLASTICITY. Brains are neuroplastic which means their cell structure changes and grows as we experience new things and overcome challenges. Our brains are made of billions of cells called NEURONS. Neurons pass messages between the brain and
Since less and less instructional time is being spent on handwriting, it is becoming even more important to prioritize the script that students need for functional writing tasks. And, since lowercase letters account for about 95% of all letters in reading and writing, I would like to make the argument
To become proficient writers, students need to know how to handwrite. Although technology is becoming more accessible in higher grades, students in lower grades still depend on pencil-and-paper for written communication. To handwrite, they need to know how to make their letters, and where the letters go on the writing
The following video shares five core principles for making handwriting instruction highly effective and engaging. You will learn practical strategies that can be implemented in your classroom right away: Video Script Hi! Today we are going to discuss 5 essential practices to keep in mind when teaching handwriting. SMALL GROUPS
Many students struggle with where to start their letters! Sound familiar? Using three-lined paper makes it easier for your students to know where to start and end their letters. In fact, the use of lines is critical to handwriting development! These easy-to-understand classroom tips and strategies demonstrate how you can
As an occupational therapist, I have seen children hold pencils many ways. Sometimes this is okay, and sometimes it isn’t. While many teachers do not have the time to address pencil grip during their busy days, the way a child holds a pencil directly affects his or her ability to
“I can’t read this!” How many times have you seen this written on a child’s homework assignment? When a child has bad handwriting, it is often assumed that they are lazy, not putting forth the best effort or just not sufficiently motivated to write neatly. It is especially confusing when
Science of Reading – Aligned Handwriting
In June 2011, Carmel Bozarth, a Title 1 First Grade Level Specialist, reached out to me via email regarding the potential purchase of Handwriting Heroes for the Washington County School District. She wrote that “Handwriting Heroes goes hand in hand with the Simple View of Writing presented in our LETRS training. It meets all the criteria.”
Intrigued, I began researching “LETRS” and the “Simple View of Writing”.
The Reading Wars — and Its Impact on Handwriting Instruction
One of the most contentious debates in education revolves around reading instruction. On one side of the battlefield stands “whole language” where students are exposed to a literacy-rich environment and encouraged to discover things for themselves while the teacher facilitates this exploration. Reading is taught using the three-cueing system to figure out the pronunciation or meaning of the word. Students guess words that they don’t recognize by:
- thinking about what word would make sense in the story
- looking at the picture, or
- looking at the first letter of the word.
Under the whole-language model, handwriting instruction involves having students figure out how to write letters as they need to use them. Since they are not provided with a specific sequence or direction in which to form the letters, they draw them as best they can. It is believed that since children learn to speak without any formal instruction through meaningful exposure to language, they will also learn to read and write in the same way. Unfortunately, children do not always “decipher the code” for themselves.
Opposing the whole-language method is “systematic phonics,” which uses explicit, systematic instruction to teach reading, such as phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words) and phonics (the relationship between letters and sounds). In a pro-phonics model, handwriting instruction teaches children exactly how to form their letters in the most efficient manner. It relies on devoting time to handwriting instruction before the student is required to use letters to write words and sentences. Reading and writing are seen as skills that must be explicitly taught since they do not come naturally.
In the 1950’s, systematic phonics was replaced by whole language. Explicit handwriting instruction, such as practicing proper letter formation or correct pencil grasp was de-emphasized in favor of more open-ended writing activities that allowed students to explore and express their own ideas.
Handwriting was further diminished with the rise of keyboarding and again when Common Core omitted it as a learning objective. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a final blow, leaving handwriting instruction in a precarious position — with most teachers conceding that they don’t know how to teach it or don’t have time to fit it into their schedules.
The Science of Reading (SoR)
In recent years, educators and parents started taking notice of the need to improve children’s literacy and are committed to reviving phonics instruction as part of a greater movement known as the Science of Reading (SoR). The SoR is a comprehensive collection of scientific studies about reading and writing that provides information about how we learn to read and write and the most effective ways to teach these skills. The SoR movement emphasizes the importance of evidence-based practices in reading instruction and advocates for the use of instructional approaches that are supported by research. The goal of the SoR movement is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn to read proficiently and to provide teachers with the knowledge and tools they need to effectively teach reading to their students.
Five key elements are considered to be essential to reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics and word recognition, fluency, vocabulary and language, and comprehension. The Simple View of Reading is a model used to explain these elements. It states that reading comprehension is the result of two main skills:
i. fluent word reading, which refers to the ability to decode words accurately and fluently, and
ii. language comprehension, which is the ability to understand and comprehend the meaning of words and sentences.
The Simple View of Writing is a framework that identifies the key components of effective writing instruction and helps educators identify areas of need for learners who are struggling with writing. It consists of three main components:
i. transcription skills, such as handwriting, keyboarding, and spelling.
ii. self-regulation and executive function, which include planning and organizing information; and
iii. translation or text generation, which is the process of using correct grammar and sentence structure to communicate thoughts and ideas.
Writing instruction should focus on developing these skills across all grade levels and should include daily opportunities to practice writing.
Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS)
Despite decades of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of the science of reading, along with declining reading scores under the whole-language approach, the shift towards this approach continues to face significant resistance. Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) is a professional development program that has been instrumental in advocating for the science of reading by providing educators with the tools they need to implement this approach in their classrooms. LETRS emphasizes the importance of handwriting and highlights the following concepts:
- Start teaching handwriting early, in kindergarten, using a step-by-step approach.
- Emphasize correct letter formation. Poor letter formation can become habitual and hinder fluent writing.
- Engaging the extra neural pathways involved in the physical act of writing improves students’ memory of letters, more so than if they are only learning the letters by looking at them.
- Using motor skills as part of literacy instruction improves the memory of letters and words, leading to faster reading as students recognize words more rapidly.
- Early and regular practice of handwriting enables students to form letters more automatically, leading to improvements in writing skills, including better spelling and noticeably longer, more organized, and higher-quality compositions.
In line with the Simple View of Writing, LETRS provides guidance on recommended practices for handwriting instruction. The following infographic illustrates how Handwriting Heroes performs when evaluated according to these criteria:
In light of this information, I am proud to reflect on Mrs. Bozarth’s statement that ‘Handwriting Heroes goes hand in hand with the Simple View of Writing presented in our LETRS training. It meets all the criteria.’ The Washington County School District is presently in their second year of using the Handwriting Heroes program with great success. The growing support for the science of reading movement gives me hope that handwriting will be recognized as a fundamental skill that should be taught systematically and explicitly in all classrooms.
Guest Blog: A First Grade teacher’s take on Handwriting Heroes
My name is Kristen Shawley. I am a first grade teacher in a rural school. I had the opportunity to first implement the Handwriting Heroes program in the spring of 2022. I saw amazing results in the short time that we had to work through this program and I am looking forward to implementing it with a new group of students this coming year.
First, a bit about my students. . . I teach first grade in a rural school. As a result of the pandemic, my first graders spent much of their kindergarten year receiving virtual instruction. We had some limited in-person instruction towards the end of the year, but social distancing guidelines made it very difficult to deliver developmentally appropriate instruction.
Throughout their first grade year, I was tremendously impressed with the growth that they made in reading and math, but handwriting was an area that consistently seemed to be a deficit for most of my students. The way that they formed their letters was so inefficient and incorrect that in many cases, their handwriting was barely legible. Learning proper letter formation in a virtual environment resulted in students who were drawing letters like they would copy a picture and I saw so many bizarre things – like the letter e being written using three separate strokes and never really looking like an e. I had tried various programs and we spent time working on handwriting, but nothing seemed to really work for the majority of my students. Plus, my students dreaded that time, did the work just to get it over with and it wasn’t improving their handwriting!
From the very first moment that I saw the Handwriting Heroes program, I knew there was something special about it! This is not one of those dry, boring programs that kids dread. In fact, they looked forward to that 15 minutes a day and they would often sing the songs together during their free time!
Things I Love
Low Prep: Truly, one of the most amazing things about the program is the ability to print and go. To prepare for each week, I just printed and slipped the letter pages into a dry erase sleeve for each student and I was ready for the week! After the first week, I like to print the summary page on the back so that we can flip it over and review all of the letters that we have learned! I had my students use the thin dry erase markers so they could be more precise and attend to the sky, cloud, grass and dirt lines when practicing.
Printer Friendly: You really only need to print a few things and many of the materials are reusable throughout the week or even throughout the program, so that is awesome! I chose to print the workbook pages in black and white (although color would be ideal). I do believe that the color is important, so we spent a couple of minutes color-coding the lines before slipping them into the dry erase sleeves. This activity seemed to help my students really pay attention to the lines!
Simple to Implement with Predictable Routines: This is a plus for teachers and students! Students quickly catch on to the steps in the lesson. The repetition helps students learn to form the letters correctly and the videos and materials keep things engaging and exciting for students.
Phonics Reinforcement: As a teacher, I love that the songs reinforce the letters sounds – For example, k skydives down. A little bird kisses k and flies away. This not only helps students remember how to correctly write the letter, but it also reinforces the sound for the letter k. I like to reinforce the key words while practicing the letters each day.
Multisensory: The program incorporates air writing, finger tracing, and crossing midline which are great skills for young learners. Plus, the songs are fun, catchy and help reinforce the basic strokes that the letters have in common along with the letter sounds!
Fun and Engaging: This is absolutely the biggest plus of the program because my students would literally cheer when I said it was time to do our handwriting lesson. They loved “graduating” from one letter group and learning the song for the next letter group. They even loved reviewing, practicing and singing the songs for the letters that we had already covered!
You can trial the entire first module of the program for FREE by signing up to the trial – https://handwritingheroes.org/pricing/
Data Collection: The data collection spreadsheet is simply amazing – so amazing that it deserves its own section which can be found below.
Results: I have never used a handwriting program that provided such amazing results in such a short time. Plus, this program helped my students learn their letters and sounds! Check out the sample from one of our phonics assessments below. This student had only mastered 11 sounds by January of first grade. You can also see how many of the letters from the January sample are floating above the line. Also, pay close attention to how this student formed the letters u, s (in box 29, you can see how they started at the middle and used 2 lines to make the s) and e. These formations were corrected completely by the May sample. This student also participated in Tier 3 intervention from January to May, but I believe that the Handwriting Heroes Lessons really helped this student master most of the letters and sounds.
Note how the letters h, u, e, s, and a on the left are formed with multiple strokes. In contrast the letters on the right side are ALL formed correctly.
What My Students Loved
“I liked the songs because they got stuck in my head.” -C
“I liked the songs because they helped me remember which group the letters were in and they helped my figure out my 9’s and my p’s.” -B
“I liked the songs because they were really nice songs. They helped me write my letters right because the words inside of the songs told me what to do.” -S
Here are a few pre / post tests to show some of the results that my students achieved in just 6 weeks!
This student struggled with placing the letters correctly on the line – especially the descending letters. She responded well to the concept of the letters “falling into the dirt”.
This child was particularly anxious and would often erase and re-write her letters She also wrote with very hard pressure which caused her hand to hurt. Her confidence improved and she became a lot more willing to write.
This student “drew” his letters and required a lot of support to even attempt writing the letters. He made the most remarkable progress and would say the stories to himself as he wrote each letter.
This student formed the majority of his letters from bottom-to-top. The letter groupings helped him to learn the first stroke of the letter, which led to proper letter formation .
I’m a data person. I want to know that the time that I am investing is resulting in the best learning experience for my students. Handwriting Heroes has an amazing data collection spreadsheet. It is designed to be teacher-friendly. You simply click the boxes to indicate the letters that students are able to write correctly and the form calculates their accuracy for you! You have a couple of options within the form. There is a pre-test form that includes all letters organized by their letter groups. This assessment does need to be done individually with each student, but I did find ways to streamline the process. I was able to complete the assessment with two students at a time. I just put a divider between them. Then, I would tell them the letter that I wanted them to write and have them take turns writing it. You can see my pre-test results below. Keep in mind that this is after having spent time using other programs to teach handwriting in my classroom.
Along with the number correct and percentage correct, you will also be able to view the pre and post test data in a bar graph. This is a quick and easy way to see the progress your students have made and to determine who may need intervention after the initial 6 weeks of the program. The blue bars below show the pre-test data for my students and the red shows their post test data. Looking at this data, there are a couple of students who could benefit from small group intervention to continue their progress. If I had this group of students for additional time, I would continue reinforcing the stories and letter formation as a warm-up in our small group instruction, or I would pull those students in a small group for 10-15 minutes daily and continue to monitor their progress.
On Friday (or day 5), I would play the weekly letter group song for students as a quick review and then complete the assessment. For an average student, the assessments took me approximately three minutes per student in week 3. If a student showed mastery of a particular letter for 2 consecutive weeks, I did not ask them to write that letter during the weekly assessment. For the post assessment, I asked all students to write all letters to be sure my ending data was accurate.
For the weekly check-ins, you can use the tabs on the data collection sheet to assess each letter group that you have taught up to that week. Below is an example of what my Cannon Pops data looked like. The data collection form automatically generates the percentages and the bar graph for you so you can easily track growth and even pull students for some small group intervention if you notice that they are not making progress. I love how everything is color-coordinated and how the form is so simple to just click the boxes. This simplified my weekly assessments and saved so much time!
Whole Group Instruction Tips and Tricks
Implementing the program with an entire class is simple and my students really looked forward to our handwriting time each day after I started using Handwriting Heroes with them. Below is an outline of how I chose to implement it. I tried to keep lessons to 15 minutes as we have many other things that we are required to teach during our whole group instruction. One of the benefits of the Handwriting Heroes program is that students are not just reinforcing handwriting, they are also reviewing letter names and sounds as you do the songs, air writing and review the key words. The multisensory components along with the movement and spiral review of letters that students have previously mastered all help make the program more enjoyable and more effective! I also love that this program continuously reinforces top to bottom and left to right which is another thing that supports beginning reading skills.
Sample Whole Class Lesson Plan:
Week 3 – Approximately 15 minutes
- review all songs (play just the beginning part of each letter group video to review the songs for each group)
- play the video for the weekly focus letter group
- sing the song
- air write
- say the story
I hope this helps you see the features and benefits of the Handwriting Heroes Program. There are so many things that make this program different from everything out there – the songs, the ease of prep, the multisensory components, the reinforcement of letters and letter sounds, the data collection and especially the student engagement! I truly believe that all students would benefit from this program!
10 Reasons to Teach Handwriting in the Digital Age
Brain Science and Handwriting: Precise Practice Make Perfect
“That’s coming along great. You’re getting so much better, keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve really improved!”
It is wonderful watching our students use their handwriting skills every day and seeing them go from carefully forming a letter to writing it with automaticity. As letter formation gets easier, and recognition and recall improve, writing as well as reading feels more natural to our students.
When we’re learning the basics of handwriting, we are building muscle memory and hand eye coordination. The ease that comes with daily repetition of a skill is due to a process in the brain called MYELINATION.
A Quick Guide to Myelination
Myelination is the process of making MYELIN, a fatty substance that is an integral part of neurons (brain cells). Billions of neurons connect the brain to all parts of the body, forming our central nervous system. Information is passed through neurons as a series of electrical impulses. As part of their journey, the impulses travel along a long trunk in the neuron called the AXON. The axon is wrapped in a nice fat coat of myelin, which acts as insulation, making sure the electrical signals move swiftly along their path, similar to the rubber coating on a power cable.
When we are born, we don’t have a lot of myelin, but the brain quickly gets to work forming neural networks, growing neurons, and getting the axons coated with myelin so essential skills like walking and communicating become effortless. Most of the brain is myelinated by about the age of two but we continue to produce myelin well into adulthood because we’re still developing higher cognitive skills. When we start to practice a skill regularly, like handwriting, our brain recognizes that we are using certain neural pathways frequently so the neurons in those pathways start making myelin coating for their axons, and the electrical impulses move faster. That’s why daily practice makes handwriting quicker and easier. Think of it as a skinny little back road that gets frequently used so the city upgrades it to a superhighway allowing you to get to your destination sooner.
The flip side to this is that the neural networks we don’t utilize will be deemed unnecessary and get pruned back, which is how a lack of practice leads to our skills becoming rusty. All is not lost though, once we dust off the networks, we can still regain those skills and improve.
Perfecting How We Practice
So, practice really does make perfect.
Well… almost, but not exactly. Practice makes what we’re doing easier and more automatic, but it doesn’t mean that we’re doing that skill perfectly. It is only precise practice that makes perfect.
Imagine you learn to write your letters from bottom to top. If nobody ever corrects you, you will keep on writing letters in this manner, myelinating those axons, and reinforcing those neural pathways so that it becomes automatic to write letters incorrectly. This establishes a bad habit. And bad habits are hard to break!
Imagine you learn to write your letters from bottom to top. If nobody ever corrects you, you will keep on writing letters in this manner, myelinating those axons, and reinforcing those neural pathways so that it becomes automatic to write letters incorrectly. This establishes a bad habit. And bad habits are hard to break!
When students practice without supervision, they often form the letters incorrectly. The lowercase letters on this worksheet are “neat” but are all formed incorrectly. The student first made the line and then the circle. (Starting the letter d like a “c” helps to differentiate between letters b and d and prevents reversals.) Not only is practicing incorrect letter formations a waste of time – it results in learning bad habits which are hard to correct.
This is why it is essential that we encourage early writers to strive for precision – right from the start. Explicit instruction provides students with a roadmap, with a designated route, instead of leaving them to their own devices, to figure out the right path to take. When teaching handwriting be sure to walk around to observe students while they are writing. In this way, you can provide immediate feedback to correct errors as they occur.
Why does it matter? While it is perhaps fine to take the long, scenic route occasionally; functional writing requires efficiency. Students who write inefficiently struggle to complete their written work.
Students are being tasked with writing at much younger ages. What used to be a first-grade curriculum has now moved to kindergarten. Expectations for sentence writing start as early as the first term in some states. Whether or not this is appropriate (hint: it’s not) is a discussion for another time. In order for students to write however, they do need to know how to write letters though. Making time to teach letter formation, before the students invent their own means of forming letters, prevents bad habits from setting in and provides an essential foundational skill that will serve them throughout their academic careers and beyond.
Our young learners are imbued with confidence when they know they are doing something correctly and enjoy gaining mastery in handwriting. Using multisensory activities, such as writing letters in shaving cream, or using your whole arm to make the letter in the air, involves tactile and kinesthetic receptors – which makes learning the letter forms more memorable.
Children’s brains are incredible, constantly learning, adapting, and honing skills. We can help to make handwriting an engaging and positive experience for students by guiding them to learn correct letter formation early on, to practice with precision and to forge good habits!
Brain Science and Handwriting: The Areas of the Brain involved in Handwriting
Brain Science and Handwriting
The Areas of the Brain involved in Handwriting
Learning handwriting is glorious for the brain, it helps us become better readers by forging new connections and strengthening ones that already exist. That sounds great, but how does it happen? What is going on in the brain when we grasp a pencil in our chubby little fingers and start turning shaky squiggles into letters?
Much of the action takes place in the CEREBRAL CORTEX. It’s the chunky, wrinkly outer part of the brain that we see in Frankenstein films, and when we use the words “gray matter” that’s the part of the brain we’re talking about. It’s made up of billions of brain cells, called NEURONS, communicating with one another that allow us to do everything that we want to do by processing all the information our senses receive, deciding what to do with that information and acting on it. They make connections called NEURAL NETWORKS.
Why is the Cerebral Cortex so wrinkly?
The cortex is made up of bulging folds (gyri) and deep valleys (sulci), it’s scrunched up like this to make the most efficient use of space and fit in lots of neural networks. Think of it like a piece of paper with a lot of text on it. The paper is large and takes up a lot of space. If you fold it into a teeny tiny square it takes up less space, but it still contains the same amount of information.
The cerebral cortex is split into regions called LOBES. Each lobe has different jobs to do but they work together, along with the CEREBELLUM and the BRAIN STEM, to make handwriting possible.
Introducing Your Lobes and their Writing Buddies
That’s a lot of brain parts, and it can be difficult to get them to work together properly. Our young writers and readers make a lot of mistakes – but as time goes by they get used to cooperating, and communicating with each other faster and more efficiently until one day it feels effortless.
Brain Science and Handwriting: The Interaction of Writing and Reading
Learning handwriting improves reading skills! How does that happen? Well, we can thank NEUROPLASTICITY. Brains are neuroplastic which means their cell structure changes and grows as we experience new things and overcome challenges.
Our brains are made of billions of cells called NEURONS. Neurons pass messages between the brain and the body to control everything we do. Neurons connect with other neurons forming NEURAL NETWORKS. The more connections we make and the more we use our neural networks, the stronger they become. Things that were once difficult, like handwriting, become manageable, and eventually easy. Not only that but those neural networks get used to learn other new skills too.
Neurons are nerve cells. They run all over the body making up our CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, which includes the brain, the spinal column, and all the nerves that radiate out from the spinal cord to all parts of the body. Some neurons are very small, a millimeter or so, but some can be over a meter long!
When we practice handwriting, neurons communicate throughout our body from the eyes to the brain down the spinal column to the arm, hand, fingertips, and to the rest of our body to adjust our posture.
As we grow from infants to adults our brains get larger and heavier because we are creating neural networks and changing the structure of our brain. When we learn a complex skill like handwriting, we make new growth in our neurons, and when we continue to practice it, we strengthen the neural networks so writing becomes easier.
Think of it like rain falling on a hill, at first there are many trickles, but the water seeks out the most efficient way down the hillside and starts forming select channels. Every time it rains the water finds its way to those channels and flows through them making them deeper and more permanent.
HOW DOES THAT AFFECT READING?
Because the brain is plastic and adaptable, it will use pathways forged through learning handwriting to benefit reading. Reading becomes easier because handwriting has given us a larger, stronger neural network to support it.
Here are a few ways writing supports reading:
1. Learning to write enhances visual processing of letters. This makes it easier for the brain to recognize letter shapes when reading.
2. As children learn to write letters, the movements are stored in what is called “kinesthetic memory”. These are the memory centers in the brain that are related to movement patterns. It is the first memory center to develop and provides for the longest lasting memories – for example, the memory of the movement patterns for how to sit or walk. This memory center allows writing to become an automatic motor response, as stated above. When a child learns to read, he or she can draw upon this memory center to remember how the letters on the page are formed and to draw conclusions on what those letters are.
3. Both reading and writing use the same temporary working memory system to take in information, analyze it, and use it. Working memory takes what the eye sees and interprets it based on what is stored in a person’s long-term memory. Letters and words are processed through this same system no matter what their source. If working memory can draw upon kinesthetic memory to identify letters, then the brain will respond to the letters and words on a page faster. Reading and writing also interact through working memory during spelling and composing written work.
4. Children learn to write letters from top down. This follows the same visual movement pattern as reading since people read text starting at the top of the page and working their way down. When children learn to write, using proper top-down letter formation, it reinforces the visual organization necessary for reading.
5. Children also learn to align and sequence the letters they write from left to right on the writing paper. This reinforces the left to right visual tracking that is required for reading.
6. Writing is rhythmic and predictable. Because of its rhythm and repetitive nature, writing practice facilitates writing fluency. This fluency leads to an automatic motor response, allowing a child to think less about the actual motor actions of writing and more about what he or she is writing. The ability to focus on reading the letters while writing them leads to more proficiency during the act of reading.
Simply put, the more we write, the easier reading becomes! So, sharpen those pencils and grow some neurons!