Friday, September 17, 2010

Ribbons and Royals

I have designated Wednesday as the day we start typing journals full time. Right now, the typers will be using the machines on a rotating basis until we have enough to have one student per typewriter. I am waiting until Wednesday so I may have time to go to various office supply stores in the Valley in effort to stock up. I intend to buy some from Jay Respler, but time is of the essence and mailing order forms back and forth would be too much. I am going to call Mesa Typewriter Exchange and see if they happen to have any in stock. I imagine that they might be a bit more expensive, but I have been wanting to make my way over there for some time.

I have talked with Bill (proprietor) and he says that he has some pretty cool machines for sale. His prices are certainly dearer that what you could find on eBay or Craig's List, but the machines from his shop are restored by someone who knows what they are doing. I have heard tell of a pink Royal FP that needs a good home. Those who know me know that I have a weakness for Royal machines.

The conservative lines and heavy construction (McBee era and before) speak of a time when a business' bottom-line was less valuable than their market reputation. I know that Royal never set the world afire with Magic Margin (this blog's namesake) but they made respectable machines. I will say that they Royal Safari and the Quiet Deluxe (a Richard Polt gift) are the most popular machines in our classroom collection.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pre-Test Results

Well, the results are in. I have created a handy chart to convey this information.
As you can see there is a nice curve that peaks in the D range. 11 students in the testing group earned a D or F. The remainder (9) earned either an A, B, or C. If you consider a D passing, then around 75% of the students passes the spelling test. For this project I am not going to consider D a passing grade. This makes the percent passing quite low. It would be around a 45% pass rate. That is a much more in keeping with the spirit of the project.

What does this mean? Well, looking a the actual tests, I can say that they were much better at choosing a correct word given two options. The tricky part is when they had to identify the correctly spelled word from a list of unrelated words. The total number of errors in the second part of the test is almost 57% higher than in Part 1.

Overall- they are below average spellers. The average percentage on the test was a 68. I would hope that the process of using the typewriter would raise that at least 5-10 percentage points.

As soon as I get the ribbons I need (three more) we will be able so start typing journals. I plan to get that started on Wednesday of next week.

Monday, September 13, 2010

We've Started!

I have just handed out the 14th spelling pre-assessment. The students are taking them at home an promising not to cheat. We'll see where their spelling is.

Today K. (one of my students) came by to get some makeup work. She brought her friend B. from another class period. K. saw the Royal Quiet Deluxe that Richard Polt sent and immediately asked if she could use it. After finishing her work, K. and B. spent about 15 minutes typing messages back and forth to each other. They seemed to be having fun. The entire time K. was saying, "I really want one." I guess there is hope for the future and it comes by way of the lowly typewriter.

CTP Pre-Test

As the pre-test is done and I will be handing it out, I thought it might be fun to let people see it. With the data I hope to create a baseline score; a picture of an average Alhambra student's spelling.

I am sure that you might be wondering why I have chosen spelling as the indicator over something like sentence structure or over-all performance increases. My concern was the ease in measurability and the nature of what I want to prove. Spelling is concrete and an important part of the writing process. I agree with some who say it's not the most important part, but it is a part. It's also a part with which my students struggle. Moreover, I wanted to have them do a self-assessment of their spelling ability and something with a clear delineation between right and wrong would make the self-assessment more accurate and easier to complete.

What I want to prove is that the typewriter is unlike the computer. I have a feeling that the typewriter's mystical, mythical, and mechanical nature will awaken something in the students. I hope that the typewriter can help make them want to write.

Regardless, here is the pre-test. You may begin.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is the Adler J5 Junk?

I am hesitant to cast aspersions on any typewriter, but as I become more intimately familiar with the Adler J5 I cannot shake the feeling that this thing is a little junky. I'll definitely use it for the CTP, but I don't have high hopes for it's durability. Oh well, beggars cannot be choosers.

UPDATE I feel as If I have been to hard on this little grey soldier. He's a nice guy who's helping us out. Also, I have a tendency to anthropomorphise objects. Sorry.

The Pre-Assessment and Informational Meeting

I have finished the Spelling Pre-Assessment and have sent it over to the copy center. It should be done in a few days.

Monday after 7th hour is the informational meeting about the project. Students who are interested in participating for extra credit are to report to my room. When they arrive I'll go over a brief introduction and tell then what they will be doing with the typewriters. We'll see how interested some of them may be. I must start thinking of a series of interview questions about how students feel about their work. I want to come up with some basic idea (apart from the quantitative evidence provided by the self-evaluations) of how the typewriter impacts (a pun was intended) a students perception of his work.

I do need to find some basic care and feeding instructions about typewriters. I thought that I remember the US Army had some field manual about typewriter care that might be useful. I'll post to a couple of the groups to see if anyone has an idea.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Alive!!!

The Adler J-5 has been on the workbench (actually the counter in the laundry room) annoying my wife to no end. I finally worked up the gumption to attack some of the problems that made it unusable for the CTP (Classroom Typewriter Project). The Adler J-5 came from the Goodwill with some, what seemed, minor problems. The backspace didn't work, the carriage return lever was bent awkwardly down, and the platen was missing a knob.

The first problem; backspace.  I had looked at this briefly before I was distracted by other things. What I discovered was a missing spring on the escarpment mechanism. I didn't have any tiny springs but my wife does have those plastic no-pinch rubber bands. I took the smallest one she had and looped it around the spring post and the backspace bit and bob's-your-uncle.

Next, I had to disassemble the carriage decorative panels to get to the carriage return lever mount. Brute force and caution fixed that. Now it looks as it should.

Finally, the platen knob. The original is lost to the world of Goodwill. I am going to head down to Ace on Saturday and see if I can find a suitable replacement. It needs only to be usable. The aesthetics are inconsequential.

Another one ready for the classroom!