Pen and Paper

What It Is

Pen and paper hardly need a description! Yes, we just mean the classic writing tools that have been used for centuries to capture ideas, notes, and sketches. When the purpose is to process rather than to save or store the information, pen and paper may be preferable, since our brains engage differently when we draw or write while we listen. 

How to Access It

Pen and paper are simple to use and widely accessible at office supply stores. Depending on the purpose, you may prefer pencil or ink, colors or simple blue and black. You might opt for loose-leaf or paper bound in a notebook, or a notecard. 

Teaching Ideas

Idea 1: In-class reflection or timed writing

Pen and paper can provide students with a helpful container to reflect on a particular prompt during class. This can expedite discussion, since students will have content from which to draw once discussion begins. Additionally, pen and paper can be useful tools for in-class written assessment. Blue book, anyone?

Idea 2: End of class memo

You can pass out notecards to students at the end of class to jot down one thing they learned and one lingering question they have. A short activity like this can help students recall what was taught and can help you see what information stuck and what might warrant clarification moving forward.

Idea 3: Brainstorming or mind-mapping

Pen and paper can be used for brainstorming and idea generation, allowing students to quickly jot down thoughts and connect ideas. This medium is more flexible and efficient than some others, since paper can be handed out quickly, students do not need to have any devices or wi-fi connections, and the space can be used creatively. While a digital collaboration tool (like Miro) might be more helpful for online learning contexts in some ways, breaks for tactile tools like pen and paper can be helpful for online learners. In such cases, it would be important to build in a mechanism for online students to share their hand-written/drawn responses (e.g., posting a picture or sharing in a synchronous discussion).

The ODL uses technology when possible to enhance our work. This page was written with the assistance of ChatGPT, OpenAI, Jan. 30, 2023 version.

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