This morning I was startled as I was starting to prepare my table for my groups that weave their way throughout my school day. My horseshoe table had 8 yellow #2 pencils on it. It was weird, strange and ugly. They were sharpened and perfect with nary a chew mark.
Here is the story: two years ago, I read in some wonderful professional publication (??) that the little ones should be writing with pens or markers during the school day instead of the yellow #2 that is required when we take ISAT tests. Yesterday, I had to cancel my PM students to administer ISAT to students who had missed a testing session. Scrambling quickly, I looked for my #2’s to get all of them sharpened and ready.
I know some of you are not convinced just because I say so that the pen is far superior to the pencil. I have been writing with the #2’s most of my life. This is what I remembered reading. Students can not erase when using a pen. “Why would that be good?” you might ask, probably because you love to erase.
Here are some of the reasons that it is good to use a pen:
- They can’t erase ferociously and rip holes in their paper.
- It is easier to write with a pen than a pencil. Actually a hand using a pen will not tire easily.
- Students can be taught to cross out, which leaves tracks of their thinking and approximations, for those who get excited about approximation.
- Pens come in many beautiful colors.
- More writing is accomplished daily.
In the intervention that I am working with we start with markers and then we move into pen as their letters become smaller. “How are mistakes corrected?” you might be asking. I have small groups and we need the students to see the words in the correct spelling. Helping students to recognize if it correct or not is a skill that continues to grow. When we discover that a word is not correct, we use ‘boo boo’ tape (white Post-it). We also spend hours talking about making the ‘boo boos’ in life are important, and it is how we make progress as readers and writers.
Personally, until about two years ago a pencil never left my side. I was covered in shavings. Pencils were my life, and that is how I wrote. Write, erase, write, erase. Ease with technology expanded my life in countless ways. I still feel somewhat uncomfortable with a pen instead of a pencil in my hands. It can be different for this generation. They can become proficient with a pen and move to processing into the computer as soon as it is feasible.
Pencils or pens….”What is prettier?”
PS Yellow #2’s also always remind me of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills….again, I am showing my age!