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Erin M. (not verified)

I am totally frustrated with

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I am totally frustrated with some of my students who constantly use the hunt and peck method. I have been teaching keyboard for 4 weeks so far and some still refuse to leave the fingers on the home row and reach for the correct keys. Any advice?
Carolyn Stanley (not verified)

I am the computer

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I am the computer integration teacher at a middle school in Connecticut. Some of our students come to us with the ability to type data into their documents with ease. Those students who "hunt and peck" are at a great disadvantage. If students could enter school with the ability to enter data on the keyboard quickly and accurately, it would make using technology to create documents even more advantageous. I was very pleased with how the author listed the basic word-processing knowledge skills a student should have before he/she leaves eight grade. I work with my teachers to design projects that seamlessly integrate these basic skills into a project. For example, a seventh grade teacher might assign a newsletter in which the students can show off what they know about their topic in Greek mythology. As they create this newsletter in a word-processing document they either learn or reinforce basics such as changing the margin on a page, using different alignments and effects for fonts, going from one column to multiple columns in the same document, inserting and manipulating a chart, manipulating a bulleted list, and inserting an auto page number. They also learn how to use text boxes, wrap text around graphics, and use the right tab to have information on both the left and the right side of the same line. We have similar lessons designed that help students learn and/or reinforce skills in using spreadsheet and presentation software. So, I agree. Keyboarding should be emphasized in elementary schools so that students will have good skills when they enter middle school.
Bonnie Bracey Sutton (not verified)

I am one of those people who

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I am one of those people who fussed about teaching kids keyboarding. But I have changed my mind. I had a userfriendly program which allowed for various levels of difficulty, and proficiency and the children loved being able to get their scores. Mind you I only had 14 computers for the groups of thirty, but we made it. We passed the tests, and all but one child had a huge 80percent or more skill in this keyboarding. The student who did not pass the test at 80 percent only had one arm. I did not know that there were keyboarding programs for those children, or where to find them, but Andy Carvin, came to my rescue. What was amazing is this. Some of the children could type faster than I could. One thirdgrader was so proficient, she made money, typing on the weekends for clients. That was not one of my aims, but, she was so self confident with this skill immediately it translated to her doing better in all subjects. The program I used was not easy. It made students go back and redo the areas they did not know. I only had one failure, that was a child who wasn't having any of this typing nonsence. He was not a total failure, I took him after school to let him be ONE child on a computer. As I said , we were sharing computers and he needed the total time for himself. The only failure in that lab case was the teacher who did not want the children to have their test scores, and who came to the lab and closed down the selftesting portion of the software without my permission. I have never known what it was that promoted her to do this, but I was able to restore the setting so that they could get their daily scores. Teaching keyboarding works for me. Bonnie Bracey Sutton
Patsy Lanclos (not verified)

Good comments. Thank you for

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Good comments. Thank you for reading and commenting on this column. Keyboarding is a tactile-kinesthetic skill that needs practice and reinforcement. Since computers have entered all of our school, it is essential that proper data entry techniques are taught early -- before bad habits can be formed. (It is so hard to break bad habits! Have you broken the habit of putting two spaces after a period?) I agree that the word processing skills should be integrated as a part of the writing curriculum and not taught in isolation. There are some resources for teaching keyboarding on my website. You can also do a Google search for typing software +free. Many resources will be listed. Some of these programs can be used for enrichment, practice, or for those who "finish early."
M White (not verified)

I agree with all of you on

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I agree with all of you on this one. However, as a Tech Coordinator/Teacher I also want to make sure that keyboarding is really viewed as skillbuilding and not a means in and of itself to babysit 25 students at a time as some of my teachers have wanted to do. It's amazingly quiet when all have headphones on and the program tells them what to do! If my 3rd-8th graders spend 15-20 minutes on our program and THEN go and apply that for another 20 minutes to creating a great piece of writing, that's when I see keyboarding pay off. Nice to see views from outside K-12!
Vera K. White (not verified)

My middle students have just

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My middle students have just begun their computer math (goal: Math Olympiad) class with a keyboarding software program. Their initial test scores were 5 wpm and our class goal is 25 wpm. Think about that -- the human brain travels so much faster than 5 wpm that slow keyboarding will frustrate these students. Until this necessary skill improves, their chances of winning an online math competition are slim, even with correct answers and quick solution times. And these kids are going to be winners!
Deborah Frederick (not verified)

As an workplace skills

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As an workplace skills instructor for 18-21 year olds, I find keyboarding to be an indispensable tool for employment. Many of our clients want "office jobs", but they do not know the basics of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and E-mail, which are required skills for most positions, even warehouse and mailroom jobs. I am encouraged to hear that keyboarding is being taught in Middle School, but I would suggest that the basic eye/hand coordination of learning the keyboard can be taught as early as third or fourth grade. Teaching keyboarding works for me too, Bonnie. Deborah Frederick
Glen L. Bledsoe (not verified)

The important thing about

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The important thing about keyboarding is not the conventions of tabs or how to use a mouse. I mean really, how long does it take students to learn to open a new document? The far more important issue is one of keyboarding _safety_. Students need to learn to type so as to avoid wrist injury as much as they can. Posture and hand positioning are far more important than speed or accuracy which are only important on a typewriter. I would really hate, however, to see educational technology reduced to teaching students a series of office worker competencies. Technology can be far, far richer and more beneficial than that.
Debbie Peairs (not verified)

I couldn't agree with you

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I couldn't agree with you more, Patsy! I teach basic keyboarding skills at the community college level and encounter frustrated students on a daily basis who are pecking away at the keyboard with two fingers and have little or no mouse skills. The hardest habit to break for someone who has been using a computer for any length of time is to not look at the keyboard. It's very difficult to build speed when you're constantly looking back and forth between the keyboard and the copy. Two days ago I had a "student" who is a medical doctor (from India), mid-fiftites who is taking our keyboarding/word processing course because he knows nothing about computers and has never used one. I find it difficult to understand how he has made it this far! I suppose he has had a staff to do all the paper work up to this point. I'm assuming he now wants to begin using a tablet to record his patient's history while he is examining them. He is experiencing a great deal of frustration at just mastering the basics of using a mouse and understanding how a computer works. I will suggest voice recognition software to him as an alternative because he doesn't have much time to devote to practicing keyboarding and learning basic application software.
Dawn Grobe (not verified)

Hallelujah, from an

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Hallelujah, from an Elementary School (K-6) Technology Specialist. When I graduated from high school 12 years ago 2 things happened there; keyboarding became a requirement (I took it senior year) andthey began using computers for keyboarding instead of electric typewriters. Since I have been teaching in the same district I graduated from, they have moved the requirement from High to Middle School and the Middle School promptly dropped it on the lap of the Elementary School I have been trying to teach keyboarding for the whole of my 7 years here. I have finally gotten a server, network Type to Learn software and eager kids. I am still working with all 3-6 graders, as I only just got it all going last year. I tell them all the time that they will thank me when they get to high school (and I have had some come back to sing my praises). They watch me type and are so impressed but I have some trouble getting them to realize it isn't just from years of practice, it is from learning and do it right when I did. I have used the "skins" (thin plastic opaque covers) and taken them away. I have those who tell me they "can't do it", when they have never really tried. But then I have others who can almost out pace me. Who do you think gets their papers done faster? I have been criticized by (mostly) school board members and parents who think I should be teaching more advanced topics (programming for example). "Who needs keyboarding?" asked the dad/school board member who wants me to teach programming. I have printed out your article to show him. We also do word processing, presentations, Internet safety, digital imaging, and fun stuff. They are 12 and under, how much do they really need to learn now?
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