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While technology can be a

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While technology can be a very useful tool to advance 21st century learning. educators should ensure that important skills like writing are enforced. back in the days we used to have a subject called penmanship in primary (elementary) school. during this time we were taught how to write legibly in cursive, how to form both lower and upper case letters, how to write in a straight line and keeping our handwriting uniformed. A lesson may involve forming upper and upper case letters only or writing certain words or maybe we have to reproduce an almost perfect well-written paragraph skillfully written on the board by the teacher. over time many of us develop beautiful cursive handwriting. I really do not see the use of the pencil going anywhere, it will always be with us therefore we should not sacrifice this skill for technology. Educators should continue to create lessons to include even minimal use of the pencil or pen as a way of continuing this very important and relevant practice.

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

I love the papyrus analogy! I

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I love the papyrus analogy! I would consider white boards and try erase markers some pretty new technology, we just assume that all 'technology' has to be digital. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

First grade teacher, International School, Seoul, Korea

Thanks, I'm Relieved!

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It was a wonderful to read your article. I found myself shaking my head, 'yes, yes, yes!' in agreement.

I am a first grade teacher, currently getting an IT certificate, and have struggled with the amount of technology I should incorporate into my classroom. Six and seven year olds need to be hands-on, and a pencil or a marker are sometimes the best ways for them to develop the fine motor skills they will require later on.

Your point about the pencil being a modern technology at one time brings to mind what a friend said to me in a discussion over hand-held books and Kindle books. I had said although I love my Kindle and use it far more than I do paperbacks, I miss the sound of turning pages, the smell of books, as well as the ability to just throw one down or stuff it into a beach bag. Kindle's take a bit more care and gentleness. Her reply to me: "I'm sure the stone cutters felt the same way when papyrus became popular." Cute.

Anyway, I think your point about using the correct tool rather than just technology for technology sake is well taken. There are many things that are high-tech to my first-graders that they would pass up in a heartbeat for a little white board with erasable pens.

First grade teacher in Tennessee

Which is best?

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I enjoyed reading the comments. This subject particularly interests me as I have begun my Master's degree and am taking a class in technology. I am from the "old school" and have limited technology training. However, I do feel that we need a variety of methods in our instruction which includes modern technology. After all, we are in a digital age at the present time in history. I do agree that sometimes the pencil and paper method is best. With my first graders I like using individual whiteboards rather than paper and pencil for some activities. Other times using specific-to-the-subject software really enhances a lesson. Students need to be exposed to many different methods that cater to their different learning styles. This may include "older school" types of technology or more modern technology experiences.

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

I'm honored, Jed, that my

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I'm honored, Jed, that my piece inspired your first comment here at Edutopia! I agree that we need to move away from teaching tools and toward teaching how to think about tools. Our students should have the problem solving and critical thinking skills to approach any tool, device, whatever with the ability to figure it out and apply it in meaningful ways. I use Open Office and Libre Office in my lab, but I don't doubt that my students (once they figure out the new, convoluted MS Word toolbar) can easily navigate any Word Processing program because they understand the application of Word Processing. This also applies to blogs, wikis, or any place they see a WYSIWYG editor.

As for paper, books, pencils and 'old school' technology, as long as they serve your needs as a learner, there's definitely no need to get 'fancy' by adding a piece of technology.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

This is my very first time

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This is my very first time commenting on Edutopia, but this subject compels me to chime in. As I sit in my classroom early in the morning (while I should be doing something more productive), I look around and see my projector, Elmo, speakers, 2:1 laptop availability and universal wifi access. Yet I also see globes, paper maps, books, whiteboards, and my 7th grade's old-school poster project on the short and long term effects of the Black Plague under construction. Parents often feel the need to push technological know-how on their children and in the classroom, but what they fail to realize is that by the time their kids enter the workforce, it will all be changed - just look at the exploding popularity of iPads in the past YEAR. Who knows what will be next? Rather than focus on the technology itself, we need to give students the mental skill set and confidence to figure out how to use and take advantage of what's around the corner - whatever that may be. Such skills - call them "21st Century" if you like - can be taught and learned with no "technology" whatsoever. In fact, I would argue that in terms of communication, collaboration, and critical thinking on projects, going "old school" with pencils, paper, construction paper, books, maps, old National Geographics or whatever is just as effective as anything computer-based. When the two are combined, great things happen - but let's keep the focus on the task and objectives at hand, versus the "gee whiz" factor of technology. Kids get enough screen time as it as home; do they really need THAT much more at school?

Guahan Educator

Dependable tools

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I greatly enjoyed your insight. I agree that sometimes good old paper and pencil leads to great learning. I still utilize this method before I write or post my papers (I'm currently working towards my Masters in Education). I still use the web method to try and organize my thoughts. I make notes in the margins of my readings in pencil. In an effort to reduce the use of paper I tried to read an article online and highlight or make my usual notes using the technology on the PDF file...it just wasn't the same. I still need to see a tangilbe copy to help me organize my thoughts for my papers.

A good sharpened pencil and blank sheet of paper is how I start off every assignment or paper. It's always there when I need it.

K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA

#pencilchat

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Thanks for sharing, Peter!

I love how viral the chat has gone. It's a great metaphor. You can also see more about it here: http://www.good.is/post/why-pencilchat-is-the-most-clever-edcuation-alle...

Exploring frontiers of teaching, jazz, yoga, Macs, film

#PencilChat on Twitter

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The same day I saw this post (and commented) I discovered the #pencilchat meme on Twitter. It was late at night here in Portland Ore, and the comments seemed to be mainly coming in from the UK. Despite the hour I had to archive them using Storify. You can find them here #PencilChat Log http://storify.com/edteck/pencilchat-log

Fun to read and share with your colleagues!

2nd grade teacher

My school's focus this year

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My school's focus this year is technology. On Monday a team of outside technology specialists are doing a walkthrough of our school to observe teachers. Administration told us not to change our instruction because we are being observed, but then sent out a schedule telling us when the visitors would be in our rooms. I feel like if I am having my students write with paper and pencil (instead of typing on the computer) or even if I am reading a book to them (instead of having a computer read a book to them) I will be evaluated as subpar. I do see the value in technology, yet as you said, it is not the only option. Just because we have fancy gadgets does not mean they need to be in use constantly for you to an effective modern teacher.

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