government · slice of life · technology

Sometimes Pen & Paper Is Better

I’m not the kind of parent who typically drops everything to help my fourth grader complete a study guide. However, I had a feeling, based on how she’s done on some of the assignments, that she needed some help to prepare for her upcoming test. Therefore, I took an hour out of my day to sit beside her to help her complete the study guide.

Isabelle began learning how to type a couple of months ago. She completed her final module on yesterday! While she has improved her knowledge of where the keys are and her accuracy, she still types slowly. Therefore, when I noticed her social studies (U.S. Government) study guide was on Seesaw, I groaned. Audibly. It was going to be a s-l-o-w process to get the answers typed in. (Good thing I had some time!)

Isabelle was able to squeeze some of the responses onto the form by using a stylus. However, most of the spaces were too small for her to use the stylus.

Once I read through the guide, it became clear to me that I’d need to do some teaching since Isabelle didn’t remember most of the information off of the top of her head. Whatever needed an exact answer (e.g., how a bill becomes a law in PA), we located in the textbook or in the packet her teacher provided. Then, I read and discussed it with her. Next, I waited as she typed things in, letter-by-letter, using the Seesaw text function. While she typed I checked email on the sly. I even threw in a load of laundry while she typed a longer response.

Eventually, I suggested, “Why don’t you use Siri to dictate your responses? Then you can just edit the capitalization and spelling.”

“Good idea!” Isabelle replied.

But. That. Also. Takes. Time. To. Do. Well.

Once Isabelle was two-thirds of the way finished with typing the study guide responses, I flipped through her social studies packet and discovered the printed study guide was in the packet. Whaaaaat?!?!?!

“Did you know it was in here?” I asked.

“Yeah. Kind of,” she replied.

“Next time, I think you can save yourself a lot of time if you write your responses by hand, take pictures of the pages, and then upload them for your teacher to Seesaw. Technology doesn’t always make things faster. Sometimes pen and paper is better. What do you think?”

“Writing it would probably be faster,” she admitted.

Yes. Yes it would be, I thought. But I let it rest. Isabelle was calm, despite spending an inordinate amount of time typing and dictating her answers sentence-by-sentence. I bit my tongue. Being righter-than-right wasn’t going to return the extra half hour she spent laboring over her keyboard today.

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.

16 thoughts on “Sometimes Pen & Paper Is Better

  1. Ugh. Our poor teachers are really struggling to get work home in an accessible way, especially when we end up online. (We spent all of January remote – blah.) It drives me crazy, though I know they are doing their best. I never thought I’d be teaching a 5th grader how to make decisions about which tools work best for various school tasks when there are so many tools (and so many SLOW tools). I hate to say it, but I’m kind of glad I’m not the only one.

    1. You are NOT the only one! Isabelle has been remote all year. She’s really risen to the challenge of navigating remote schooling. However, like all kids her age, she still needs guidance to help her work smarter, not harder.

  2. It’s excruciating to me to watch kids type. So much brain power put into finding those letters that is unavailable for other thinking. And yet, it’s important for them to learn.
    You captured your frustration and her diligence.

  3. I struggle with the need for our younger learners to have to type in long answers (Can you say state tests?) for many students its the act of typing that causes the block.

    1. If one is a fast typist, then it’s easy. Otherwise, doing things on the computer feels like we’re placing a stumbling block in front of kids. (Please note: I don’t fault her teacher in any way for this. Her teacher has been great about providing printouts so Isabelle can do as many things as possible on paper.)

  4. As a slow typist, my heart hurts for Isabella, but she will likely speed up in time. That a fourth grader can type impresses me beyond words. That she has the patience to deal w/ the slowness also impresses me. It reminds me of something Kylene Beers wrote on FB yesterday about all kids have learned during the pandemic. Bravo to you, too, Stacey, for doing laundry while teaching. Way to multitask!

  5. Wow the work she put into that is amazing and great! School has changed in so many ways over this last year. As a grandmother who use to teach I feel way out of date. I need to get up to date before my grandson heads to school. Thanks for sharing this little learning season. Congratulate Isabelle for her hard work!

  6. I’m with you on this one! My son wants to type everything, but it’s usually a disaster. We’re moving to an iPad so he can use the predictive text function because he can’t type fast enough to get his ideas on the page. 🙂

  7. Writing by hand DEFINITELY has its place. My fingers-crossed hope is that our kids will come to that knowledge. And YES. I know how tricky it is to know you are “righter than right” and still bite your tongue. Well done, mama.

  8. Whew! So much here! … but for me, the big flashing neon question in my head through the whole piece was: “FOURTH GRADER?!?!” And then I realized that yes, as an original slicer, I’ve been writing along with you since 2008. What an excellent journey. Glad to be gearing up for SOLSC number 14! ❤

  9. I like SeeSaw, I like tech, I find typing to be a useful skill. I don’t like remote learning – it’s challenging for the kids and the teachers and the parents. I compliment you and Isabelle for the resilience you both show.

  10. Isabelle’s calmness and perseverance are amazing – such valuable life skills. I can see your hand on your face as you found the study guide! I also admire your restraint in “letting it rest” – that takes SO much strength.

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