"This School Was SHOCKED By What They Found Hidden Behind Chalkboards! Almost 100 Years Ago..."


RE@L logo_Corp_color_RGB-high-REZ

Dale LaFrenz and Tom King – Blogmeisters

The RE@L Blog!

BlackboardOKCRE@L was amazed to find this recent article posted on the Internet. The story was also carried by a local television station in Oklahoma City.

Click on this graphic to see and hear the video story about this unusual “archeological” find, discovered behind the chalkboards at Emerson High School. It’s a free trip back to the early days of the classrooms of the 1900′s.

Here are some photos from the website of what was found and amazingly well-preserved.




Your RE@L Editors, Dale and Tom, were honored to teach high school back in the early 60′s, when chalkboards were still a part of every classroom.

The overhead projector was just finding its way into many K-12 classrooms, but there was still a lot of chalk-dust flying around, thanks to both teachers and students showing their work on the many chalkboards that surrounded the classroom.

This photograph of the Multiplication Wheel we found on the website has puzzled us the most. What was this tool used for? At first we thought it was a computational aid, one with which you could get a quicker answer to the multiplication problems, like 7 x12.There seems to be no way to generate such answers from this wheel. It’s more likely that the teacher used the pointer to to first choose the multiplier say 4x or 4times, and then tap the digits on the outside of the circle. The student or class would shout out the answer, e.g. 4×9 equals 36. The digits are randomly placed so that the student couldn’t just add to get the next answer.

Here’s the rationale provided by several math teachers and other experts who studied this learning aid as to how it works.  Just click on this link from Quora.com for the rest of the story.

Why would there be such a focus on memorizing, you ask? Back then, there were no calculators or iPhones with the answers to basic number facts. Students had to memorize their addition, (subtraction), multiplication (division) tables to solve a number problem. If you didn’t know what 8×7 was, you would have to add 7 to itself eight times to get 56. The same was true for the date of the Louisiana Purchase, or the name of the first Vice-President. Google was not around to help, and repetition helped.

December1917We live in a very different world today. It does not take hours to draw complex diagrams any longer. Or, even make a colored drawing. Or post a poem, or mark a calendar. It can all be done with a mobile device, a stylus or a finger on an iPad. And far more quickly!

We do not know what the yellow dots meant on the calendar at the right, but school should not have been in session, even back then, on Sunday, December 25. It’s also clear that these students had not yet memorized, “30 days has September, April, June and November….”, as they do not list a December 31 on their chalkboard calendar. Typos happened back then, too.

CursiveWritingAs for writing, back then there were no keyboards. Only chalkboards and earlier there were slates. Yes, students learned to print their letters first, but they also studied how to write cursively, using a technique called the Palmer Method, for handwriting.

It is hard to find easily-read cursive writing today. It’s disappearing quickly. Today most young people print, and even many of the older generation is turning away from cursive writing.

So, how does this all impact us? Memorizing seems far less important, doesn’t it? Dale and Tom remember those early days when students were learning to use calculators. Memorizing the multiplication table wasn’t so important any more. Often, we would hear, “What will happen if your calculator batteries are run down? You will be out of luck!”TylerRacewayMath4x6

RE@L still worries about that conern today. We all need to know our basic number skills. That’s why we have our RE@L Raceway Math apps. All a young student needs to do today is click on the needed skill of add, subtract, multiply, divide and they play a game to learn, practice and improve those skills. Learning and fun happen at the same time. The price is right, too: http://realexperiencesatlife.com/app/rel-raceway-math-addition-facts/

Today, however, we  all need more skills on how to solve complex problems. We also need to ask better questions, such as: What’s a reasonable answer to this problem? How can I show that I know something? What skills do I need to be more successful in life. Why is it important to learn these new STEM skills…Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics? Who can tell us what the jobs of the future will be and what we will need to know? What’s my best fit into a career that I will like and be good at? RE@L helps out again!

STEM2RE@L believes these are the new questions that need to be asked and answered today. We need answers you won’t very likely find on a chalkboard anymore. RE@L products, such as our STEM software and Babysitting app, provide the missing context so that students can not only learn content, they can learn context as well. They can learn skills that will help them succeed in their careers.

Makes you wonder what they will find one hundred years from now in the learning trails we will leave behind, doesn’t it? And, the new Trails we will be following in the future!


Please email your comments or questions to:  comments@realexperiencesatlife.com

Click on the our RE@L Blue Globe below for more information on RE@L:




Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.