Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Introduction: Royal Safari

This Royal Safari is as popular as the Hermes 3000 with our more adventurous students. Safaris are not known for their typing finesse, but they do look nice. I think that this typewriter would look at home with the Jetsons or in the Monsanto House of the Future. It's definitely space-age.

I have noticed that it is a very loud typewriter with a prominent echo. When the students really get typing you can hear it clearly. Maybe it's too distracting, but no one has said anything negative about it. It is built well and apart from the keys and front bezel it is all-metal and quite heavy. It has all the standard bits and parts: Magic Margin, tabulator, see-through ruler. It does not have a paper bail and I find that typing on index cards is very easy. It does use the late-model ribbon vibrator with little pincer-like clips to hold the ribbon. This makes installing a new ribbon much easier than all our other typewriters.

I don't think I would recommend it for heavy-duty typing, but it does make a strong visual impact. In addition, it was really inexpensive.

P.S. If you are my student or have been my student in the past you might recognize the original, patented Mr. Adney journal form ready for a response. Please remember to put you name, the date, and the period on top of every page.

Extra Credit: For 10 extra points, name the book series on which the Royal Safari sits.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Zombie Adler

In the spirit of the Halloween season the Adler J5, which was thought dead, has returned. The ribbon advancement mechanism is fixed (a spring) and some bits and pieces were modified and repaired. Tape holds down the cover. Yes, it looks like some sort of grey zombie, but that could be the charm hidden deep beneath the plastic.

A while ago I crafted a new left knob and I am not happy with it. Because of the size of the knob and it's location I had to remove the transparent plastic guides so it would clear when the carriage is returned. I would like to get a proper Adler J5 knob and return the margin guides. If anyone out there has such a knob would you be willing to send it my way?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our First Assertion

In my previous rambling post I mentioned that I have some new data on spelling test performance. Well, here is the chart with the comparisons between the pre-test and the current testing round.

The students using the typewriter are doing better than last time. They are scoring higher and doing much better on all spelling scored assignments whether spelling is a core component or something ancillary. This may, however be related to the intensive spelling work, but students doing the same activity without the typewriter have a lower rate of passing on the same assessment that students who are using the typewriter are passing. This information presented by the next chart.
I could continue on with the collecting of data, but this trend has been steady for the past couple of months that we have been using the typewriters. I feel confident in saying that students who use a typewriter tend to become better spellers when they become aware of their spelling mistakes. This is not a real experiment, I don't have much of a control group and it is entirely based on what I am doing in my classes. I imagine that you could replicate the same results with a computer without spell check, but I am a fan of typewriters and I am going to attribute it to that.

With this, I will add our first assertion to the "Findings of the Prject Page." I, however, will continue with the inventory analysis. Those questions provide the most interesting information and give a sense to understanding what students appreciate about the typewriter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Analysis and Monks

Well, I have just finished doing the counts of the survey. I know that the title of these analysis pieces include the word weekly. Well, I haven't been able to keep up with a weekly analysis. The numbers were have here are an amalgamation of a couple or three weeks of surveys. I am not to concerned over how accurate this is because the shorter data sampling rate is still consistent with the timeline that I am currently using.

The numbers are holding for most of the indicators. 100% of all students using a typewriter on a daily journal activity enjoy using the typewriter. This is an identical answer rate as on the 29th of September. The only difference is that 75% versus 85% on 9/29 strongly agree that they enjoy using the typewriter.

The numbers for statement 5 (The computer is better to write on.) are sliding clearly to the center with 50% being neutral to the statement. I take this to mean that more and more students are seeing that the mode of writing is secondary to what is being written. The typewriter is a tool to write as is a computer or a fountain pen. I would imagine that if I included students using fountain pens in the data set the numbers would be roughly the same.

The students' reply to number 6 (My writing has more meaning [when I use the typewriter].) has jumped to 60% either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement. They are seeing value in their writing when using a typewriter. Why would a typewriter make them feel their writing has more meaning?

I have the feeling it has something to do with the artistic nature of using a typewriter. Typing on a typewriter has, for lack of a better word, a primitive feel. By primitive, I mean visceral; like painting with a brush or drawing with a piece of charcoal. With these processes you can feel the act of artistic creation through the soft glide of the bristles over canvas or the scratch of the coal in the peaks and valleys of the paper. There is an innately artsy aspect to pressing the key. You can press softly and barely make an impression. You can press firmly and make a dark, distinct mark. There seems to be an infinitely variable amount of opportunity with a typewriter. As the artist can make the brush or charcoal go in any direction the typist can control the process of creation. The forms, the shapes, the typefaces all lend to this artistic process. The writer can be connected through this arcane, primitive (there's that word again) process and become an artist.

An artist values his work and sees value and meaning in it regardless of the value that society (or an English teacher in Phoenix) places on it. The effort that went into creating this art is akin to illuminated manuscripts made by the monks on Lindisfarne. The difficult process made art that was immensely valuable to the creator. This art, simple typed journal entries, become illuminated manuscripts; beautiful in their form and the crafting of each individual letter.

I feel this way when I type something nicely on my HH at school. My seating chart is an example. I type it on my wide-carriage HH. That way I can type in landscape. When all the names are in their places I take the paper out and admire the dark neat letters. Simultaneously perfect and imperfect; little illuminations on a piece of paper.

Weekly Inventory In Progress

The next round of Inventories has been handed out and they are steadily coming in. We'll be able to see if there is a continuation of typewriter love among my students. Also, I have some hard numbers relating to the spelling component. They are doing measurably better. I'll share all of that data when I do the next update.

If you are new to visiting this blog, please take a look at the links to the right. They will give you an overview of the project and some of our goals.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

12 October Typecast

You can see the barest hint of the blue felt below the keyboard.

Now you can see all the felt. It's felt-tastic!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Upcoming Events

The second Weekly Writing Inventory will be passed out on Wednesday. I hope to have some results to share with you on Friday. The questions will stay the same, but I hope that all the positive stats will provide some clear trends.

Today was the first day after our October break and when the bell rang it was a feeding frenzy around the typewriters. I guess they were deprived over the break and needed to type. I know the feeling. I hadn’t used my HH in a while. Feeling the snap of the keys brought me back to a very happy place. 

The SC Skyriter is airing out at home. I’ve gone through and replaced the felt on most of the machine. The only felt that I had was electric . It’s ended up looking zany and cool. It looks neat and it might inspire a new color scheme.