Right now I am aiming to have four manual typewriters. These will be assigned to four students each grade period (5 total). This means I will have a cohort of 20 students using a typewriter for their daily journaling activity.
To assess their basic skills in spelling, I have created a two-part 50 question assessment. Part I offers a sentence and a choice between two spellings of a word. The student will need to bubble in a letter corresponding to the correct answer. A choice between two words will most closely mirror a standard writing assignment. Every writer, when mulling over the spelling of a word, will try to imagine other options. This assessment will mirror the mental process of choosing between two options. Part two will be more de-contextualized. The student will need to choose the incorrectly spelled word from a list of words. The word sets offer no logical connection.
I will take the raw score and assign each student a spelling ability quotient. A similar test will be offe…
A student using a typewriter on a daily journaling activity will, over the course of a year, have a measurable increase in the ability to recognize spelling errors compared to a student who does not type the same journaling activity.
As we get into the swing of things at school, I can imagine that there is going to be some resistance to typewriters in the classroom. I am sure that someone is going to make claims that computers are more efficient and better. I will have to direct them to Richard Polt's new blog Writing Ball.
For kinesthetic learners (an intelligence that is rarely played to in education today) typewriters will be a boon. There is tactile feedback with every key you press. Every time the printhead strikes the paper the satisfying "whack" is a public symbol of your commitment to the idea; your ideas. Everything you write is out there. Your mistakes become part of the document and process becomes more important than outcome.
The name is not set in stone, but the idea is beginning to bloom! I posted this to the typewriter forum. It could be the start of something great:
I have an idea for a project that needs the assistance of the typewriter enthusiast community. I teach English at an inner-city high school in Phoenix Arizona. My school is filled with under-privileged students. Many of them have significant challenges at home and school is their only refuge. It can be difficult to get them to express their ideas in writing. They have ideas, but find the method of delivery a little too distracting. A computer is no longer a tool to do work. It is a task-avoidance machine with blinking lights and fancy graphics. Young minds are too easily led astray by the lurid glow of the internet, games, and talking paperclips. These kids need to focus on the process of writing. I want to give my students a chance to slow down and write; to be at home with their thoughts. You can help by donating a typewriter to my studen…