Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fifth Hour Racket

Did you know that 7 typewriters going during a class period makes a good ammount of noise? Well, I am here to tell you (from first-hand experience) that it does.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eric's Donation

Eric, a Valley resident, has donated three nice older typewriters to the cause. Two Royals (fun!) and a Smith-Corona. That brings the total number of typewriters in room 1131 to 7. That's not too bad. I'm going to unbox and get them ready for use.

Thanks Eric!


A kind gentleman has heard of our project and is donating two more portables to the project. They should be here on Wednesday. I have been thinking that we might need a little gallery of our typewriters. Someone out there might like to see what we have.

On another note, teaching is an interesting profession. On a regular basis you can expect an administrator to come by your room to see how your lesson is going or do do an official observation. Depending on how long you have been a teacher the number of observations changes. Initially it is two a school year. For me, I am so far in it that the number of observations is one a year. Our district is a fan of the surprise observation.

Sometime during the year an administrator will come by with a decidedly scary form and start assessing your teaching. Do you have a standards addressed lesson? Are you employing into-through-and beyond teaching strategies? Are the students engaged? There are lots of education buzz-words. This year my evaluator is the principal and she came in on Friday to have a quick walk-through. Nothing unusual except there were 3 kids typing on typewriters.

She didn't say anything about it, but I know that in her mind she was thinking, "What the cuss is this about?" People have two reactions when I tell them about the project. One one hand there are supporters who think the idea is intriguing. On the other hand are people who think I am strange. That's alright. If anything it's fun to hear all the typewriters clacking.

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.