5 Old-School Teaching Hacks That Really Work


As teachers we have a wealth of techniques and technology available to us.  Can you imagine teaching before the copy machine, projectors, and computers?  What in the world did educators do? They couldn’t just copy a worksheet or google the information they needed. However, some old-fashioned techniques are worth a second look.

Most schools will have almost all of the materials in this article. Sometimes you will be surprised what you might find in your school’s storage.  One of our contributing teachers even discovered a treasure trove of charted poems and nursery rhymes.  They are now getting a new life in her classroom.


1. Choral Reading Charts

Reading Chart Emmerson

There is plenty of data supporting choral reading for fluency achievement.  However, choral reading charts are so much more than that. Choral reading of speeches, poetry, and songs teaches much more than fluency.  Children memorize the passages, they are exposed to vocabulary and ideas that they would otherwise never internalize.  The best part? Have an old-fashioned poetry evening with cookies and lemonade!


2. Penmanship Practice


Penmanship is best practiced in isolation.  Simply copying words or choral reading charts and focusing on the letter formation will do wonders for your student’s penmanship.  It’s also a calming activity that everybody can be successful at.  Simply walk around and correct pencil grip and letter formation as you go.  For a truly old-fashioned experience try fountain pens.


3. Chalkboards


There might be a chalkboard hidden behind your fancy new whiteboard.  Chalkboards aren’t only amazingly fashionable, but there is something about the tactile experience of chalk that makes learning with a chalkboard a very rewarding experience.  Try mini chalkboards for your class or have students use your class board.

Teachers used to make up problems that would help their students on the fly and simply write them on the board.  Students would copy and solve the problems.  No prep necessary and problems can be adjusted to the level of understanding in your room.  It’s practically revolutionary.


4. Singing


Students used to sing all the time.  If the teacher couldn’t play piano they would sing a capella.  Remember those autoharps your teachers used? How in the world do those even work? Students would learn hundreds of songs and remember all the lyrics. Do you know the lyrics to the Star- Spangled Banner?


5. Journal Writing


Daily journaling is an amazing reflective writing practice. Students can journal at any time. Just taught a science lesson? Write in your journal. Went on a field trip? Write in your journal. You get the picture. Practice makes perfect and students get lots of writing practice with a journal. Student journals also make great keepsakes. What a wonderful way to look back at your childhood with a first grade journal.



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