I grade papers using a typewriter, taking photos of my comments and sending them back to my students. I type these comments as I read student papers on my iPad. This has allowed me to avoid glitchy educational software, to double my output, and to improve my comments in general–focusing on important issues rather than repeatedly pointing out the same errors.
I also have typed out rubrics for students and typed out the occasional lesson plan. Today I discovered another use. I am covering Doctorow’s Ragtime in my American Lit course. I’ve used the novel before, but my memories accrue rust over time and thus I need to refresh my understanding of the novel in terms of plot, character, theme, and so on. I believe that my teaching becomes stale if I don’t read the novel along with my students, even if I have read and taught the novel before.
Today I typed notes after reading the assigned chapters. Okay, what’s the big deal? This method greatly reinforced my memory. As any typewriter user knows, the mechanical and sensory experience of using a typewriter focuses the mind. Beyond that, it’s fun, which further reinforces memory. I scanned my notes for future use, albeit that may defeat the purpose of my point here. (Nothing wrong with more notes.) Those notes are now in a folder online, which will be recycled automatically for the next semester.
I am posting the notes here. They are full of errors and typos, and this typewriter needs a good cleaning. The point is the idea of it, not the polish of the notes. On the other hand, please enjoy the nice paint job I gave this Olympia.