Monday, November 14, 2011

A Little Organization Goes a Long Way

I took some time to dust my home collection and I thought that some people might enjoy a look at how I have them displayed.

Top left: Remington Model 7, Top right: Royal Quiet De Luxe
Bottom left to right: Corona Zephyr, Royal Portable, Royal Model 'O', Naval Royal Arrow

These are just the home machines. The ones at school make for the sum total of the collection. I really like this IKEA shelf (Expedit) because each cube is the perfect size for a typewriter.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Typewriter Activities: Part III

For those of you just popping in, I have put together 5 activities for teachers to use typewriter in a classroom setting. This is number 3 of 5. So, please excuse all the education lingo. 

Response Zine
This is my favorite activity so far. I like it so much that I am going to use it when we get to Romanticism (in a few days). It’s such a great thing to see student-made publications. When it comes to examples there thousands of good (and school-appropriate) zines yo could bring for inspiration. Look in your own community. I am sure you’ll find something.

Supplies Needed 
Several typewriters
Access to a Xerox machine
Saddle stapler
Old magazines
Zine introduction slideshow*

Set-Up Steps 
1. Have the Zine presentation queued up and ready to go.
2. Arrange your desks into groups of four.
3. Put all the supplies the students might need on group desk.
4. Set up a “binding station” on a table or desk somewhere in the room.

Activity Overview 
By creating a Zine in response to a literary selection, students will have the opportunity to express their opinions about a work an its meaning in a larger context. Also, students will be able to express opinions in a public forum. Zines are intensely personal so each group’s product will be vastly different. Don’t worry if the result is a little odd or strange. This is an acceptable outcome to this assignment.

Instructional Narrative 
Anticipatory set: “Does anyone know what a Zine is?” (Allow time for discussion.)

A Zine is an amateur magazine, but there is so much more to them. I would like to go through this presentation for you. If you have any questions, write them down on a piece of paper and you will get a chance to ask them later.

We are going to make Zines as a way to reflect and comment on what we have learned about Romantic literature. Romantics were inspired by nature and believed in the Romantic Notion. You are going to answer this question in the form of a Zine:

Does the Romantic Notion have a place in the 21st century? 

You will work with your table groups. If you feel like working on this project alone, that would be perfectly fine, you just need to let your table group and me know.

I am putting no restrictions on genre or style. As long as your Zine answers the guiding question (as you see the answer) you will have completed the requirements. Please give this an effort. What you put into this project will be reflected in your grade. I will give each table group a rubric to assist in developing their Zine. You will have a number of days to work on this project.

You may use any of the tools at your table. Typewriter, pens, pencils, magazine cutouts, etc. Be very creative.

Whatever you turn in will be copied and returned to you. Yo can then take what you have over the binding station and assemble it. Each table will make 20 copies of their Zine and we will make them available to our school community.

Other people will read it, so make sure that it represents our best work. We will deal with other problems as they arise. Are there any questions?

Wrapping It Up 
You will have to make all the copies for the students, but it shouldn’t be too difficult. Let them bind them and put them together. You will need to keep an eye on the content. Use the standards of your school be your guide. If in doubt, ask a colleague you trust.

You can use the finished products as fodder for reflections or other types of writing assignments.

Remember, this assignment can easily be altered to fit whatever you are teaching. Just change the guiding question.

*The slideshow will be done fairly soon. You will be able to download it here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Typewriter Activities: Part II

Typing Discussion (Silent Discussion with Typewriters)
As an activity, this one is pretty easy to do. The only challenge is that you need to keep your class silent for the discussion. What do I mean by this? Read to find out more:
  • A number of questions for whatever you’re teaching. (Hint: try to have questions that require a longer answer. “Who is Paine’s audience in ‘The Crisis’”? is a fair question, but “How does Paine use pathos to persuade his audience?” is a better question.)
  • 1 typewriter per question.
  • Pieces of paper.
  • Larger pieces of paper (legal or tabloid would be great).
Set-Up Steps
  1. Write one question on each of the larger pieces of paper. Make the question clear and easy to read.
  2. Set up the typewriters at stations where they are relatively far apart.
  3. Type each question on a sheet of paper.
  4. Load those sheets (with the typed questions) into the typewriters. Have the typewriter read to go.
  5. Post the questions on the larger sheets of paper above the corresponding typewriter.
Instruction Narrative
“...So, we are going to complete an activity called “Typing Discussion”. You may have noticed the typewriters I have set up around the room. Each one is under a question relating to our reading. When I say go, you are going to walk around the room, read each question, think of a complete answer, and type it down on the corresponding typewriter. After you have typed your response, type your name.
Don’t copy what someone else has said. Be original. If you are having a tough tome coming up with something to type, you can respond to someone else’s comment. Make sure that your response is substantive and adds something to the discussion. Don’t type ‘same”, “me too”, or anything similar. Also remember to keep all comments school-appropriate.
The key is to be quiet during this activity. All I should hear is the sound of typewriters. When you have responded to every question take your seat.
You will want to circulate during this activity. Proximity is the best tool for managing an activity like this.
Wrapping It Up
As a debriefing you can have groups of 3-4 look at each question and circle the “gem” in the morass and share out the findings. There might be some essay topics hidden among these pages.
Silent Discussion and this variant are great because students who are hesitant to share have a way to participate stress-free. I, however, am a little old-fashioned when it comes to teaching. I think that a little classroom stress can be good, but when I want everyone to show an understanding of the topic this is a good technique. Questions that are challenging and thought-provoking are needed. If you lob slow-balls this activity is nearly worthless. 

Friday, November 4, 2011


While I am working on the description of the next classroom typewriter activity, I thought you might enjoy some pictures of the newest machine to enter my private collection.

As you can see it is a pre-war Royal Arrow made for the US Navy. I have no idea what kind of service record this little typewriter had, but it did serve for some time in the Oregon Civil Defense.

The odd keyboard layout is one clue to the unique nature of this typewriter. The other clue to its specialness is the type style.

Sans-serif, with a slashed 0 is the hallmark of a "Radio Mill" typewriter. This machine was used to transcribe messages sent over wireless.


It boggles my mind to even think about what kind of messages this typewriter typed. There is definitely some history there.

The light white-gray paint was so dirty and grimy that the machine looked yellow. It was shockingly filthy, but the dirt created a protective layer ensuring that the paint, when clean, would look new.