Invisible Ink: a trick of the trade

I believe that part of being a competent teacher is having a varied and unpredictable toolkit to solve problems on the spot. Sometimes classes and students are very angry, or sad, or bored, or apathetic. Sometimes they have loads of energy and sometimes they could sleep through an Act of God. We have to be armed with strategies to lure students into our lessons.

One of my favorite tools is an invisible ink pen. I first learned about the magic of invisible ink in the classroom by running Breakout Games. Kids were intrigued by the tiny UV flashlights that revealed hidden messages. They wanted to write with them and play with them. Truly, who wouldn't?

I bought a class set of invisible ink pens from Amazon for less than $1 per pen. These pens are equipped with a flashlight in the cap which enables the writer to see what she is writing.

It is an absolute joy to let kids write in invisible ink and turn in seemingly blank papers. I've used them for whole classes or with individuals who needed extra attention here and there. I've had kids refuse to write essays, but agree to do it happily when they get to write in invisible ink.

It is a riot and an excellent tool for a reluctant writer.

You can find the pens by looking for "spy pens" or "invisible ink pens." Be sure to buy ones that include a light for decoding. Also, check reviews. I was lucky with my purchase, but have read of others who bought pens that were dried out or had dead lightbulbs.

When you use these, be sure that students write their names and some type of symbol indicating that a paper has hidden work to grade. You don't want to accidentally throw away somebody's invisible masterpiece.