Thursday, September 30, 2010

Letting Go

The Adler J5 is the first victim of heavy use. The ribbon advancement mechanism is broken and no matter how much I jiggle, poke, and prod the ribbon won't more. I am sure that there is a reason why, but I am not gifted enough to fix it.

This leads me to my title "Letting Go." I am not lamenting the Adler J5. It wasn't my favorite or the favorite of the kids, but I have to get used to the idea that these are not meant to be museum pieces. They are to be used by people. Students will use them rougher than I would and all I can do is remind them to be gentle because they're old. When these machines were new, did people treat them gingerly or did they use them as tools? I imagine most were used as tools.

As a collector I see the value beyond their use as a tool. To me they are beautiful objects that sit on shelves and are to be admired. Yes, I like to use typewriters, but I use them gently with a great deal of respect. These typewriters are intended to be used by students and they might get broken. Things happen. I need to be at peace with that and be willing to let go.

P.S. I don't want anyone to think that my students are ham-fisted cretins who grunt like a neanderthal. They are, to a large extent, taking good care of the typewriters. These machines were designed to last. And lasting they are.

Overheard at a Typewriter

"I really want one of these."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weekly Typewriter Inventory Analysis

I have broken the results from the inventory into more specific categories. I haven't posted the inventory questions. Here they are:
  1. I feel that during the past week my spelling has improved.
  2. I enjoy using the typewriter
  3. I feel that my writing is improving.
  4. I am a poor speller.
  5. The computer is better to write on.
  6. I feel that my writing has more meaning.
  7. I would use a typewriter on school assignments.
To see the distribution look at this chart:
Apart from being slightly blurry (I don't know why) you can see some interesting trends. There is a general like of using the typewriter in class. As well as a general feeling that the use of the typewriter imparts a greater sense of importance to the student's writing.

There is an interesting tidbit: there is no clear benefit, as seen by the students in the project, in a typewriter over a computer when used for composition. This is a direct refutation of the assumption that all progress is good progress. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Results of the Weekly Typewriter Inventory

Part of the Classroom Typewriter Project is getting children excited about typewriters and the creative process. That goal is measured trough the Weekly Typewriter Inventory. This survey is 7 simple statements that students mark the degree to which they agree.

Of all respondents I was able to come up with these interesting facts:
  • 75% of students responded with "Strongly Agree" when asked if they enjoy using the typewriter in class. The remaining 25% agree with the statement. No participating students marked Neutral, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree.
  • 50% of students responded with "Neutral" or "Strongly Disagree" when asked if a computer is better for composition than a typewriter.
  • 63% of students responded that they feel their spelling has improved with the use of the typewriters. I did ask for a follow-up and some responded that an inability to easily correct mistakes has made them more deliberate in their spelling.
I want to wait for another inventory to see if the numbers hold fast, but there is a like of using the typewriters. The farther that I go into this project  the more I think that some students have preferential methods of writing and that the responses may be linked to personality and likes that an innate benefit of the typewriter.

Could this just be a restatement of the research that Ben Wood and Frank N. Freeman did on typewriters in classrooms during the 1930s? We'll see. I think I'll do a separate post about that particular piece of research. It really is interesting.

UPDATE: I have further broken down the results which will be clarified in another post.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Picture of the Collection

Right now all the typewriters have ribbons and are ready to use. I have cleared off a shelf for them and they are displayed proudly. The shelf makes it easy to take them off for use and easy to put them away again. There is also a Smith-Corona that is on another shelf.

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!