As we were taking out the school supplies this morning I grabbed the two things I always use ... a blue pen and a red pen.
The red pen has a long and sordid history with students and teachers. And I'm sure it's use has haunted many a student over the years but I still think it's an important tool.
The red pen draws attention to an error. It says, "Look over here .... something is not as it should be."
It doesn't say, "You are a failure" or, "Here's yet another mistake!"
When students put pencil to paper they are taking a risk. The red pen teaches them that risk can be met with resistance/correction but the world won't end and that risk leads to learning.
Activities to be completed as independent work should already have been taught by the teacher and understood by the student so there should be no risk in something coming back 'covered in red ink'.
The red pen works in conjunction with the encouraging and guiding words of a caring teacher.
There are however places a red pen should never be used.
For example, pieces of student writing or in a student's journal or on a final project.
These items are personal to the student and should never be defaced.
But on a worksheet .... or a test .... bring on the red pen*.
And in other news ..... our family yearbook arrived today.
Every January I order the previous year's blog to be printed. It's my lazy mom way of having a family photo album.
This is the seventh year of our blog and thus the 7th book.
We've been the barefootsintheburbs, the barefootscrosstheborder and now we're the barefootbeat.
*Unless of course it causes the student angst .... in which case ... ditch the red pen ... whatever works.