The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

and our students need some mighty pens to help fix this world.


I hope that’s true that pens are still mighty, but it’s getting harder and harder to justify writing in a digital classroom when kids are so intent on avoiding it.

Kids will drop your elective class if your room gets known as a class where you have to write regularly.


When English is their second language the aversion to writing can be crippling.

My principal asked the teachers at my school to solve this writing problem. It seemed like a lot to ask, but I've been tired of the student's sloppy writing and excuses for not turning in work so I took the challenge seriously. This is what I came up with.

I used my sparse hardware money to get relatively inexpensive tablets for my classroom computers. Until this time we had even been doing our animation drawings with mice so it wasn't a stretch to ask for the likely tool in a digital media class.

And some day when tablets can run the high end software I use in my video game design classes I have hopes of getting good big ones to replace my old computers.

Now if you think it's unusual to ask kids to write with a tablet in a digital media class, just try requiring them to write in cursive. I do it! You can imagine the push back but I have become very confident about it over the years and my boss loves it.

This is how it works for me. First of all it took 7 years or so of committing myself to the same community to have the clout to create a sequence of classes which the students want to take. That was hard but it can be done. I did it.


For many years before I started with the tablets I found that a great warm up was to have the students create questions using technical statements I provided.

I write the technical statements on the board and they convert them to questions with the answers underneath.

The improvement that the tablets make is that they get to write straight into the computer, which satisfies many of them and I benefit by the improvement in their penmanship for research papers and even their drawing skills. I have them use Flash which is a 2D animation software' but Photoshop or any paint or graphics program could be used. I made a template for them and they reuse it to do their warm ups every day before I come into the room from watching the halls between classes.

I realize that this may seem to be more of a digital media teacher's tool. But if you are interested you can begin like I did on paper and build up to digital warm ups. You can contact me at any time if I can help in any way and you can see my student's complete portfolios at


I hope I have shared something valuable to you.

Thank you