Don't Let Them Take Pencils Home

This post was largely influenced by Larry Ferlazzo's latest post and my own experience with 1:1 computing and my friend Javi's experience with a Parent University.

Gertrude the School Curriculum Instructional Interventionist Academic Specialist storms into my classroom after school, "Tom, Tom, you cannot have students bring home pencils and paper."

"Is this about the dangers of carrying them in their pockets?  I've told you that not a single child has punctured a scrotum."

"It's not about that at all."  

"Is this about damage of property?  I've had parents sign legal waivers."  

"It's not that, either.  I have a journal article about how students who use pencils at home have lower standardized test scores.  So, for the love of test-taking, we need to stop our students from taking home pencils." 

"I take issue with that research.  The only measurement of learning was a drill-and-kill bubble test.  How is that measuring authentic learning?"  

"It is what it is," she adds.  It's her mantra that she uses to avoid divergent viewpoints.  

"Look, I understand the research, but it has to be taken within context.  Often times, students in low-income areas . . . "

"like ours, which means the context is the same . . ." she cuts in. 

"Let me finish.  Schools in low-income areas often have students who come in with a mentality that pencils are to be used for entertainment.  Their parents don't use pencils in their factory jobs and don't have experience using pencils in schools.  Because the poor are often marginalized, clever marketers tailor pencil use in poor areas toward entertainment.  So, they come into my class thinking, 'Cool, this is a toy.'  But we can change the paradigm."  

"How exactly do you plan to do that?" 

"I met with the parents and the students and explained ways that pencils could be used for learning. I worked with Mr. Brown to develop a parent pencil program, where parents have learned certain skills we're teaching students. It's actually been a really cool, horizontal kind of thing, where they have begun taking charge of the courses . . . "  

"Look, that's nice.  It really is.  But, how do you keep them accountable at home?  They'll just use the supplies to play Hang Man.  Such a sick and twisted game!"  

"I don't hold them accountable.  I try and find projects that keep them interested.  But if they choose to play Hang Man or go on the pen pal networks, I'm okay with it. There's probably some learning that's taking place that we don't realize."

"Okay, you keep telling yourself that, but don't blame me when your test scores are lower."  I love the use of "your" right here, as if I am the one taking the drill-and-kill tests.

89 comments:

  1. Mr. Spencer,
    I really like the message in this blog post. Far too often teachers focus on the cause of a problem, but not a solution. I loved how the "problem" with students taking home pencils was confronted and altered. Giving students ideas and options will be more beneficial than taking away their pencils. This post inspired me as a future teacher and I hope to keep the things that I have learned from your posts when I begin teaching.

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  2. Thanks for the kind words, Allison. I'm glad it provoked thought.

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  3. i love the message in the post...keep it up..you have a nice blog...love it..



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  4. I am from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class and I am posting as part of an assignment. I really like the approach to the solution rather than focusing on the problem. This is very thought inspiring and as a future educator I hope to carry this blog with me. Thank you for your post.

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  5. I am also from EDM 310. I also like the approach of not arguing over the subject, but instead showing solutions. Kids always need a fun way to learn so they stay interested and continue working. However, if they do decide to go on a Hang Man trail, they are still learning some words! So learning is still there!

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  6. I, too, am from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I enjoyed your post. After reading, I couldn't help but key in on Javi's viewpoint. I was a bit baffled at the fact that instead of finding projects that interest her students, to do at home, (who would have thought that learning is about the students), she would rather not sacrifice her overall reputation of being an educator and try and prevent low test scores. Sure, test scores indicate, in some degree, the amount of learning a child endures, but to prevent them from bringing home something as simple as a pencil, is a bit absurd. Why don't they suggest not allowing them to bring home books? After all, I don't see personal libraries in homes in low-income areas. These books could be used as "fix-it" devices. (We all know someone who has wedged something underneath the leg of a wobbly table.)

    And another thing, Javi's standpoint on this issue reminded me of another assignment we have had in EDM310, Ken Robinson Says School Kills Creativity. I think the title says it all. So what if the student wants to play a game of Hangman, or, better yet, draw a picture, they aren't dabbling in drugs or violence, and isn't that a common result in low-income neighborhoods? They are occupying themselves, maybe not very productively, but at least it is better than the worst case alternative.

    Wow, funny how words just flow freely through your fingertips when you get passionate about a matter. I loved the post! I'm adding you to my PLN! Thank you very much for sharing.

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  7. Hello, my name is Jennifer and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM class. I enjoyed reading your post. I wish I could say it surprised me, her actions and feelings, but it doesn't. Educators such as her are only holding students back with negativity. They should open their eyes to all different ways of learning. It is sad and disappointing at the same time. Jennifer

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  8. I really enjoyed this story! I am a student at the Univerisity of South ALabama in EDM 310 and I found this post very helpful and insightful. It is important to focus on solutions rather than just the problems. This will be very useful in my career as a future educator, thank you!

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  9. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I thought this story was very good! I enjoyed reading it and I thought it was helpful to future educators. Just because a student is playing a game with a pencil doesn't mean they aren't learning. Also teachers shouldn't be negative they should be more positive and focus on the solution!

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  10. Hello, I am a student at the Univerisity of South Alabama and am currently taking Dr. Stange's EDM 310 class. Along with everyone else, I too think that it is great that the focus was put on the solution and not just the problem. Children are always learning, even if they are just playing hang-man. This post was great, I really enjoyed it!

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  11. Mr. Johnson,
    I'm a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed this post. All too often, teachers are too concerned with what the tests reflect to observe that children are always learning; it's in their nature. As the story suggests, what does it matter if they're playing hangman or if they engage themselves with penpals? Surely there is some form of learning taking place in either instance.

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  12. Mr. Johnson,
    I am from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed your post. I thought you made many valid points. Educators do get caught up on the outcomes of tests scores and need to recognize when they are. Educators also need to focus on the solution not the problem. Once the problem has been noted the next step should be towards a solution. If a student is playing hangman or writing a story with a pencil, does it really matter? They are using their mind, being creative and learning in both cases.

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  13. Hi,
    My name is Megan Rymell and I am Dr. Strange's edm310 class. So many times we get caught up in fighting of the problem that we forget to forget to fix it. I loved your blog post.
    rymellmeganedm310.blogspot.com

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  14. Hello,

    My name is Crystal Baxter and I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I really liked your post. I feel that we are all guilty of trying to hard to focus on a problem and never looking at all the solutions. I feel that we often over look the solutions because we are to busy looking at the problem. I enjoyed your post thanks for sharing.
    I will be writing a paragraph about your blog you can find me @ http://www.baxtercrystaledm310.blogspot.com

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  15. I really enjoyed your blog post about the situation with the pencils. Because if students are not allowed to take home pencils to write and learn how far are they really going to go. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. Hope to see more great blogs.

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  16. Hi,I am a student at the University of South Alabama and in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I really enjoyed your post. You did a great job at finding a solution instead of worrying about the problem. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Hi,

    My name is Kiara and I am reading your post as an assignment in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I think this is really neat and funny. I have never heard of a such thing, but your solution to it was brilliant. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Hi, I am a student at USA in Dr. Strange's class and I love your posts. It's so true that schools are so focused on test scores that creativity is forgotten. Thanks for the great blog!

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  19. Hey! I am sterling and I am currently in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at The University of South Alabama. I loved reading this blog post. I feel that this woman was very negative, and you cannot always be negative with a class of students. All this woman had on her mind were the test scores. Yes, the test scores are very important, but that is not the only thing important in a school. You can do so many creative things with a pencil, and not all are bad. Alot of the creative things can make a student learn more than you would think.

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  20. Hi,
    My name is Heather Bright and I am a student of Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class, at the University of South Alabama. I really like your blog because it's a extreme way to look at technology in our society. At least how I viewed it was, I substituted the word pencils for technology. I admire the fact that you didn't argue with your advisor, but explained your reasoning behind allowing the students to experiment. Thank you for posting!

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  21. Hi,

    My name is Courtney and I am also a student in Dr. Strange's class at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading your blog!! It really opened my eyes to remember to not focus on the problem itself but to find a solution that benefits our students! Thanks for your post!

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  22. Hey!!
    I am a student of Dr. Strange's at the University of South Alabama. This is a great blog! I really think it true that kids learn from everything especially if the right resources are provided. It is also a great thing to find the solutions to problems. Solutions that make sense too. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Hello, I am a student in Dr. Strange's class. I enjoyed reading your blog. I know that educators are pushed to get high test scores by administration. I am glad that this person found a way to focus on the solution instead of the problem. If students play games, write stories, or draw doodles with pencils these are all forms of learning and being creative. Giving a child a pencil with options is better than taking the pencil away.

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  25. Hi,
    My name is Cassandra Williams. I am in Dr. Strange EDM310 Class, at the University of South Alabama. I am majoring in Elem. Education. I was really shocked at how she handles the situation. I think that all students should be able to take home pencil and paper. They can learn many things just from pencil and paper. For example the different sizes in the items, one weighs more, the different textures, different shapes, and etc. Thank you for sharing your experience. My Class Blog

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  26. Hey!
    I am a student in the EDM310 course at the University of South Alabama. I love to point that you make for positivity in this post. So many children (especially the younger ones) get very discouraged because of the negativity of a teacher. A smile can seriously change someone's day and thinking in a different perspective can change the world.
    Thank you for sharing this as many things can be learned from it.

    Regina Bunch

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  27. I am Sharon Barrow from Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I loved your "pencil". Often how I learn when I come upon something new my first reaction is to play with it and see what it can do. Students are amazing sel teachers if we allowed it and gave them the resources needed.

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  28. My name is Cassandra Steele, and I am in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. This was a very interesting post, and it was very informative. Students can self-learn, and with the right motivation, positivity, and resources, great achievements can be reached. Very good post! Thanks for sharing.

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  29. Hello, I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama.I believe your post encourages creativity in students that would have otherwise been hindered. Letting students take pencils home lets them know that they can also teach themselves, and in a way, teach others. Thanks for sharing!

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  30. I am a student from EDM 310.I agree with you Tom! Why are schools so worried about test scores! The proposed correlations between such and such . . . and such and such . . . and standardized test scores are often based on data that are misinterpreted, overanalyzed, and/or insignificant. The problem is not their test scores. . . IT’S THE TESTS! Our goal as educators is not to get students to past irrelevant tests, but to inspire them to think for themselves and foster their creativity.

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  31. Hi! I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I think that playing is one of the most educational things a child can do. It allows them to use their imagination and be creative. It is amazing what my 3 year old son will think of when he is just playing in his room. I could not agree with you more about this idea of learning while playing! I think that this is an idea that teachers need to remember when they are in the classroom, learning can be FUN! Thank you for you post, I enjoyed reading it.

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  32. My name is Alissa and I am also a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I think it was great how you wanted to get the parents involved. All too often they are not and I believe it is a big reason children do not try harder in class. Great post!

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  33. Hey, I am taking EDM310 under Dr. Strange and was assigned this post to read. I enjoyed your post. Teachers need to be careful not to lose sight of the most important thing and that the students. Grades are just numbers. I believe that the students understanding is more important. Great post.
    Leslie

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  34. Hi, I'm a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class here at the University of South Alabama.
    I agree, that a student's total comprehension and understanding can't be strictly based off of drill and kill bubble tests.
    And also how your solution was just to be flexible. I think if more educators were a little bit more flexible and open in their thinking and teaching, a lot of classrooms would change for the good, after all, everyone learns differently. I personally think hangman is a great way to memorize spelling words, one f my elementary teachers played that game with our class, it was fun and I thought it helped.
    Great post.

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  35. Hi!
    My name is Sarah and I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed you blog post! I think that technology is a wonderful thing and there are many opportunities awaiting you by taking it by the horns. I also think that there is nothing that will ever fully replace the good ol' pencil and paper. Way to find a soulution! Great post!

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  36. Hi, I am from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I love the approach you took when you found a solution to the pencil problem. I babysit three boys after school everyday and I find myself having to make solutions to the problems that are happening then just focusing on the problem. Many people get sucked into the problem and that is the only thing they focus on. How is that going to solve anything? I think it is important as a future teacher that teachers apply the concept of problem solving with every situation that arises.

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  37. I am also in EDM310 and I really enjoyed reading your post! I like that you are positive, and you stayed positive even though Gertrude was beaming with cynical negativity. If more teachers would stand up and believe in their students like you do it would show all those pessimists how amazing kids really are, and the capabilities they have to learn.

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  38. My name is Sarah Blankenship and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am enrolled in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I really enjoyed this post. It was definately a different way of viewng things.

    Sarah

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  39. Hi,
    I am also a student from Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I had to read this post more than once to fully understand. The second go around I replaced the word pencils with computers and it was definitely more clear to me. I think that many times teachers get hung up on test scores versus what is really important in the classroom, which in my opinion is the knowledge the children are gaining that not only shows up in test scores but in their daily learning experiences. Great post by the way and thanks for sharing!

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  41. Hey Mr. Spencer!

    My name is Brandon M. Caten and guess what? I'm also in EDM310 at The University of South Alabama, but it looks like I am the first of my semester's bloggers to hit your page!

    I agree with your thinking when you say that there might be some learning in even playing hangman or writing a pen pal. Why are we, as educators, always caught up in being some controlling of what our students do outside of our classrooms. I agree that instead of micromanaging the students and wondering what they are doing instead of our homework, we should be making sure that our homework that we assign is keeping them engaged!

    Great blog post Mr. Spencer! Thank you!!!

    Brandon M. Caten
    http://CatenBrandonEDM310.blogspot.com

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  42. Hi! I am yet another student from Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I will keep my thoughts brief. I liked how when i substituted "computer" for "pencil" it worked so well. I realized that a satirical criticism was your intended point even before I read about your blog in the content and conflict sections. Your refreshing approach shows both a passion for the topic, and a greatly intellectual and well-thought out approach to modern education's issues. This makes your posts surprisingly easy to read because they mimic stories - which also makes them very enjoyable! I will definitely be looking at your blog in the future.

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  43. Mr.Johnson,
    What wise words!! I too feel that our childrens tools for success should not be limited to those that increase the possibility of high scores on standarized tests. We must look deeper to find what requirements our children need, technology for example no one wants to believe will be beneficial to the classroom. Students attention can be gained through interests of learning with technology. For the basic pencil and paper most kids would turn the other cheek for a play station 3! Our goal as educators is to prepare our children to be successful in the future, by providing a fullfilled learning experience. Schools have become more preoccupied with what measures to take to see that their scores are high and the state officals approve, which has some priority--but at the cost of childs good education for a system of schooling--not so sure!
    I did appreciate reading your post, for in my Education computer class, the knowledge we gain is to be shared!
    I hope you would take the time to go and look at our class blog and see what we do and put emphasis on! Click here!

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  44. Thanks for posting this! I am in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. This was very entertaining. The casual banter between the characters was funny yet effective. I really enjoyed this. It is never ok to mask a child's creativity and standardized testing has too much riding on it. Let the kids be creative! Don't smother their creativity. Let them get creative with their pencils! Who doesn't love a good game of hangman?

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  45. I am another one of Dr. Strange's students just like almost everyone above (lol) and have the opportunity to comment on your post. First, I must say I enjoyed that you put it in story form. Second, I must know who won? Did Gertrude's idea work and bring her higher test scores? So curious... I know it wasn't necessarily a competition between the two of you but maybe a competition within herself in order to raise the test scores... Lemme know please because I would like to see the end result from the experiment. Thanks for the great post and lesson!

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  46. Mr. Johnson,
    What a funny post! I really enjoyed how you used humor and maybe some sarcasm to get your point across. It seems too often we focus primarily on test scores and not enough on what are students are actually learning. Your story helped shed light on that from a comical view.
    I'm a student in EDM 310 and if your interested in my blog you can find me at http://holtonerinedm310.blogspot.com.

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  47. Hello Mr. Spencer,
    My name is Kevin White, and I'm an education major at the University of South Alabama. I am in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I truly enjoyed your post. When you substitute "computers" for "pencils" it really makes the argument to not use them at home look silly. It is true that students may not use them for the intended purposes 100% of the time, but the leap of faith must be taken; students need to be trusted to be responsible.
    Thanks for the post,
    Kevin White

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  48. Hi Mr Spencer, my name is Mary Ashley York and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at The University of South Alabama. This was an awesome post! It was funny, but also got the point across! Of course students won't always use the tools in the only way they're intended, but who knows what they may learn when they don't realize it! Plus, hangman requires you to be an excellent speller! See?! We must give the students the necessary tools to learn and guide them as much as possible through the learning process!

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  49. My name is Christina Henson and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. From the sound of the post, I would venture to guess you are for the 1:1 child/computer initiative. I can understand the relational significance that a computer to work with in the classroom and at home today is like a pencil was to do the same with in the past. I think this is a very interesting way to get people to realize the significance of the 1:1 initiative.

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  51. My name is Shaska Crabtree and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed reading your post today. I think this story got the point across in a funny way. I think there is nothing wrong with letting students use there classroom tools to be creative as well. I wonder who won out of this story? Thank you for your post and time, and you can read additional comments on my blog page . http://crabtreeshaskaedm310.blogspot.com

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  52. I am in EDM310 to become a future educator, until now I have never heard of such, that students can't take a pencil home to me that should only enhance their capability of learning skills. A hangman game can only enhance their vocabulary, reading and thinking skills, so what if a child takes a pencil home, and use it for other purposes, we as educators need to focus on the positive not the negative of what harm a pencil can do.

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  53. Hello! I am a student in EDM 310 at South Alabama, majoring in Elementary Education. Like many of the other comments, while reading this post, I saw that Gertrude pointed out the problem and had no solution, except to take pencils out of the equation. I found this very unfair to the teachers and especially the students. Creativity needs to be pushed more, not taken away from children. This is hurting their future. It's so much more than just a standardized test score. Hangman could be a great way to use pencil and paper! If the children are using their minds to think critically, who cares whether its to play hangman or basic homework? This post really makes me wonder just how many teachers think this way. How many teachers are seeing the potential in children and the tools they're given?
    I want to be set apart. A teacher should always promote creativity, and never look down upon it. Thanks for this post! Very interesting!

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  54. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I thought this was a great post and was humarious. I like how you said,"Children are learning even when we don't realize it." That is so very true! Thank you for your post and it was very interesting.

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  55. Hey there! I too am a student in EDM310 at the UNiverdity of South Alabama. It's really sad that what our childrens learn is measured through a system of standardized test. I liek that you took a stand on what you believe and i agree, even hangman has some forms of learning. Got to know how to spell to win the game....right? Hopefully, the near future will change its form of thinking and change the ways in which we measure a students academic achievements! :)

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  56. Another EDM310 student here! I thought this was a wonderful and poignant satire. I agree that it is easy to focus on testing and forget to engage their students. It is disappointing and distracting when students misuse technology in class, and this is something I'm working on. I think the best way to avoid this is to engage our students in ways that demand their attention and keeps it without us having to micromanage. I agree, even if students are using the "pencils" for something other than education at home, chances are there are at least a few times they will find themselves "learning" without realizing it. Thanks for the post.

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  57. I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange’s class.I like the idea especially when you do not force the students to learn something in a normal class setting such as I talk you listen and memorize. Getting the students parents involved with school has been almost guarantied to raise that students grades. We do not learn by taking tests that is just a measure of someones ability to memorize items. This is why I love classes that are hands on because that is how I learn. You can follow me at barschdustinedm310.blogspot.com or twitter @barsch41.

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  58. Hi I'm a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. I really enjoyed reading your post. This article is funny and I noticed some sarcasm in the article. Often time educators already have a prejudgement attitude toward students. Good educators finds solutions not complain about the problems. If a child is writing, drawing, or sketching with a pencil I view this as an example of learning.

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  59. I attend the University of South Alabama and enrolled in EDM310. I was assigned to read your post as an assignment. I am glad I did. I don't know if it is because I am enrolled in this class and an art education class but it seems to me that majority of schooling that students are attending is about nothing but tests scores and standards. Why is it so difficult for people to understand that everyone is not "standard" and should not be forced to be. Pencils allow children to express them selves.

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  60. Hi, Mr. Spencer!
    I am a student of Dr. Strange's EDM310 Class at the University of South Alabama and have been assigned to read your blog and write about it on my own blog. The concept you are talking about is such a simple one, which is why I see it being a success. We don't neccessarily have to have fancy equipment to keep our students engaged; simply giving something as seemingly ordinary, in my opinion, can make them contemplate its use and relevance. Even back in my own day, which wasn't that long ago, pencils were a basic staple of that annoying school supply list and used almost as often as a crayon! Pencils are useful for more than just bubbling. Just like students are so much more than their test scores. I agree with Neely Courtney that not everyone is "standard" and education also does not have to be "standard".
    Good post!
    If you would like to read what I wrote in my blog, you can find me here: Carly's Blog
    You may also reach me via email at carlyspugh@gmail.com.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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  61. Mr. Johnson,
    My name is Kayla Nelson and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I loved reading your post. It is such a simple concept. I too agree that even if they are playing Hangman they still are using critical thinking skills and it ties into vocabulary as well as spelling. This program is such a great idea. Take away the computers, iPods, and Xboxes just for a moment and see what they can create with their own mind on a piece of paper using a pencil. I believe so many wonderful things can come out of this program: artists, writers, inventors, mathematicians...the list is endless. I will be summarizing your post on my blog. Kayla Nelson's Blog.

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  62. Hello Mr. Johnson! My name is Sheena Nettles. I am also a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed reading this post. Parental Involvement is so important when it comes to a child getting a good education. Children that have supportive parents are more likely to do better than those who do not have supportive parents. A good education begins at home. Thank you for sharing this post! Feel free to visit my blog: nettlessheenaedm310.blogspot.com

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  63. Enjoyed the post. Looks like a case of parent and student involvement, being the pencil problem solver. Very short and pointed article, that spoke volumes. Well done.

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  64. Mr. Johnson, I am from Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at USA. I've never really thought about it but as a future teacher, I do hope that there is plenty of parental involvement. By the time I start teaching I'm sure there won't be much more need for "pencil integration" but if there is I do think that changing the mindset of those who use it only for entertainment will be a challenge. But I like how you tried to do so by showing the benefits of using it for educational reason, yet still accepting the fact that it will more than likely be used as a tool for entertainment at home. But as you said the best way to integrate it is to use it as a fun yet educational tool that can be used for learning but its so interesting that it doesn't even seem like you're learning. Thanks for the post, I'll be blogging bout your post within the next few days so feel free to check it out. bryantpaigeedm310.blogspot.com

    Paige

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  65. Mr. Johnson,my name is Dana Johnson. I am an EDEM 310 student in Dr. Strange class. Great post! I like how you expressed that kids can be doing something and not know it. I agree with both that kids use pencils as a toy and some use pencils as a learning tool.

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  67. Hi Mr. Spencer!
    I'm here from Dr. Strange's EDM310. Your post had me giggling more than once ("the pen pal networks"). I love your idea of training the parents along with the students. If our student's #1 source of homework help and guidance is left in the dark they will most certainly fall behind. This would explain the widening of the achievement gap predicted by the study you referenced. Students in low income neighborhoods are more likely to have parents who are technologically illiterate. I am intrigued by the fact that the study showed an increase in test scores for students who received computers prior to 5th grade and a decrease for those who received them after 5th grade. Thanks for the post! I will be writing more of my thoughts on this subject on my blog

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  68. Hello Mr. Spencer.
    I'm a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Stranges EDM310 class. I am majoring in Elementary Education. It's disgusting at how the education system is, it's more about "standardized testing" than the students it seems. I think your post was great and I agree with everything you had to say.

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  69. Hello. My name is Michelle French. I'm a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. It was entertaining and brought up some good points. It is better to focus on a solution to problems than on the problem itself.

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  70. Hi there. My name is Chelsea Krail and I'm another of Dr. Strange's EDM310 students at the University of South Alabama.

    This post is very interesting. I kind of giggled at the idea that students taking pencils home made their test scores lower, but perhaps it's true. However, you were right in finding ways for them to use pencils to help them learn, instead of simply taking them away.

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  71. Hi! My name is Lisa May and I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I read your blog as part of our weekly assignment. I found it very interesting! I will be following it in the future. I liked the storytelling style. When reading the conversation, it is so easy to see the sarcasm and the ridiculousness of the situation. Could "pencils" really have an impact on test scores? Who cares what they are writing/playing with them at least they are using them! Our job as educators should be to foster such a level of creativity and learning that it carries over into the after school life. I know we can't be involved in every aspect of our students lives but if we show them hope, concern and genuine possibility of an amazing future through creativity and education, we have done our job! The test scores are not the only measurement of our success as teachers!

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  72. Hi, I am an EDM 310 student at The Unveristy of South Alabama and I really enjoyed this post. I elaborated on my thoughts in my blog post.

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  73. Hi there. Yes, you guessed it! I am another student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. My name is Alexa Howie. The meaning of this post is so true. As teachers, we shouldn't try to control our students this much. This could keep them from learning. Often, quite a bit of learning can be done when students just set out and do things on their own. I'm not saying we need to be completely absent, but we need students to take a little bit of the reigns in their education. To get them interested we have to give them assignments and projects that are engaging.

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  74. Hello, My name is Duane Nelson and I am a student in Dr.Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading your post and its kind of shocking that possibly future generations of student may not have a need for pencils anymore with all technology that teachers have access to. Also thank you for allowing us to read your post.

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  75. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I thought this story was very good! I enjoyed reading it and I thought that it touched a topic that many other people have already thought about.Which is the whole testing part. what does it matter what writing utensil you use,I could write in the dirt with a stick because I have no pen or paper does that make me any less smart or any more dumb then the person who has a pen and a paper? Loved your post though! Thanks for sharing

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  76. I am student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama and I throughly enjoyed the insight on the pencil. Most students who do come from low - income areas don't have the luxury of the machines so when they get a chance to use one they get overly excited get carried away. People who also have pen and paper take advantage of the amazing tools

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  77. Hello. I too am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at USA. It looks as if I am in good company here.
    I like the use of a metaphor to illustrate your point. This is a method that can seem less offensive to "opponents" and open them up to see your point.

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  78. Hello, my name is John Russell and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I enjoyed reading your post. I agree that it is easy to focus on testing and forget to engaging the students. Teahccher also need to focus on the solution as well as the problem. After the teacher has figured out the problem, the solution should be brought forward. If a student is playing games like the ones in the message, as long as they are learning and keeping up with the other work. I don't see what it has to hurt.

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  79. Hello Mr. Russell, I'm in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class, and I would like to thank you for your posts! I've been looking around your blog and have enjoyed it! It is very interesting the way you present the conflicts between the staff that are crunching numbers and those who genuinely care about the students. I hope all is well in your classrooms and projects today!

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  80. Mr. Russell, Thank you so much for sharing this post. I think that it had a very good message, I have enjoyed reading your posts and this one of course! I am a student at The University of South Alabama in Dr. Stranges EDM 310 Class. Thanks again.
    Nell Broughton

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  81. This sounds so familiar to me as I am one of these poor marginalized students that was LABELED as MARGINILIZED. This is only a label and if the teacher would do their job there would be no labeling of students. Everyone was born with a brain and a good teacher will help students exercise their brain to their full potential. So, whether they take a pencil home and eat it we need to stop labeling and start helping students from all ethnic groups and backgrounds.

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  82. Mr. Spencer,
    I am a student at the University of South Alabama and am taking Dr. Strange's Edm 310 class. Reading your post I can also see how some educators are trying to stop technology in the classroom. We are learning so much in Dr. Strange's class about integrating technology in the classroom. Instead of just ruling it out all together because some may think that students will miss use it. We need to teach them the way in which to use it to the fullest advantage. I really enjoyed the illustration you used to get your point across with the pencil! Thank you for the post!
    Jessica Walker

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  83. I like so many of your commentors, am from The University of South Alabama. I was amazed that instead of aiming to find a solution focused on the problem. I agree with a most of the other that posted on your blog and living in low income area using a pencil to do some of the things your blog mentions ( playing hangman) at least they are not joining gangs and doing drugs. It could be so much worse. Your post made me think how to keep students involved with their own education at home along with school.

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  84. I am a student at the University of South Alabama, where i'm currently taking EDM 310 with Dr. Strange. I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I must say that this is a great post and that I agree with everything you posted.

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  85. Hi, I am Katelyn and I am taking Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I enjoyed reading your post, it was quite refreshing. I think educators get caught up on test scores and lose sight of learning. I like your approach on the situation, you are very positive and focus on solutions rather than problems. I think as educators it is important to always have a outlook of the positive things that you can do and not on the negative things, because it is easy to become discouraged. Learning is a beautiful thing and I'm sure you are doing a great job educating your students.

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  86. My name is Jonathan Giles, I am a student at the University of South Alabama and in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I thought this story was very well written! I thought you articulated your points very well and the manner in which you responded to Gertrude was very admirable. I enjoyed reading every word and I think it will be helpful to future educators. Just because a student is playing a game with a pencil doesn't mean they aren't learning. Also teachers shouldn't be negative they should be more positive and focus on the solution as you did! Great job!

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  87. Hi my name is Courtney Holifield. I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I think the article sends a great message on why we should focus on finding a solution rather that meditating on a problem. I hope to remember this lesson when I have my very own classroom! thanks for the post!

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  88. Surprise! I, too, am a student in EDM 310! I enjoyed your post to the fullest. It's funny how a little problem can strike up such a huge commotion. I would have never guessed that pencils would be the reason test scores are low! Not the pressure to pass or the fast-paced cramming of info into our students brains, but pencils! Thank you for the insight and I hope the world of education may one day move past standardized testing.

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  89. wow.it interest me to read a lot on your post.thanks for showing it to me. keep it up. vapor recovery tower

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