Often times visitors show up and ask about the pencils.  "How do you keep them so sharp?" or "How do they remain such a bright yellow?" or even "Do they have an eraser capacity?"

They obsessively focus on the texture of the paper or the gloss on the shiny pencils and they miss the beauty that takes place within the seven walls (as a new initiative, our district is trying out hexagon-based learning and has spent money not on raising teacher pay but in creating classrooms that have different spatial features to help ensure creative thinking).

I get used to the pencil talk and have memorized a mantra that involves a smile and a gentle push toward pedagogy.  This time, however, a visitor walks in and moves past the pencils.  "Show us the plog.  Let us see what students are doing."  It moves into a discussion about the math problem they had recently finished that had actually involved slates (yes, I still use them).

As the class period progresses, they seem interested mostly in student learning.  The pencils and the paper are merely a secondary factor.  This gives me hope for pencil integration.  Perhaps in another century pencil and paper will be such a normal phenomenon that visitors won't be impressed with the medium but with the way students manipulate it to create their own learning.


  1. I agree with everything you said. some parents are so concerned with things that go on outside the classroom and they really don't ask about what is going on inside the classroom. It's like looking at a pencil and only seeing the pencil, not what the pencil represents.

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  3. Since the world is changing so fast, students should learn different ways to communicate their knowledge. Pencils and slates definitely should not be a thing of the past and students should know how to use them along with knowing more about technology. I think that even with technology changing so fast there will be more to come, but I still think there will be paper and pencil used. I do not think they will disappear completely.

  4. @ Brittney Jolly:
    Thanks. It's a small thing that I've noticed, but it bothers me so much. I want to say, "yes, the equipment is pretty, but what's going on in their minds is beautiful."

    I get pushback every year when my students find out that pencil/paper and computers are not an either/or kind of thing. Students will use both.