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Poking Fun at Technology: PencilChat

Thursday, December 08, 2011 - 04:55 PM

EduTalk is a feature of SchoolBook that looks closely at words and phrases that are in use, but largely understood only by people who have passed through a teachers college or Tweed.

The Lingo: Pencil



We all know the pencil as a writing implement made with graphite. But tech-savvy teachers participating in #pencilchat on Twitter have turned the lowly pencil into a potent metaphor for the integration of technology tools into the classroom.

Whereas educators on Twitter take to #edchat to discuss technology integration in earnest, #pencilchat is a creative outlet for mocking arguments against the use of technology in schools.

Where it came from:

The idea was cooked up by John T. Spencer (@johntspencer), a middle-school teacher Phoenix and blogger who self-published a book last spring called "Pencil Me In: A Journey in the Fight for Graphite" that used 19th-century items as proxies for modern technology.

Last week, an education technology consultant named David Wees (@davidwees) shared on Twitter that he had read the book. Mr. Spencer followed up with several Twitter posts using the hashtag #pencilchat, and a phenomenon was born.

In a few days' time, thousands of posts have appeared on the #pencilchat stream, and it has garnered an Edublog awards nomination and coverage on GOOD.

Examples of it:

"I refuse to use pencils in my classroom until manufacturers figure out a way to limit what students can write with them. #pencilchat" @erinneo

"The problem with pencils is that kids are going to use them to copy stuff out of books. #pencilchat" @ericnentrup

"Do you have any research showing that adding pencils to the classroom improves student outcomes? #pencilchat" @KarenMahonMimio

"I don't have time 2 learn about pencils. Besides, students use them at home all the time, so they are probably experts already. #pencilchat" @JPPrezz

How to use it in a sentence:

Think of a concern you have about the use of technology in schools, and replace the name of the tool (interactive whiteboard, computer, iPad) with "pencil." Like this: "Buying pencils is a waste of money. They break easily and students are always losing them." And use the hashtag #pencilchat to refer to (or join) the conversation.


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