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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What's the Best Way for Kids to Learn Keyboarding?

What's the Best Way for Kids to Learn Keyboarding?

Related Tags: Classroom Technology
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With the introduction of STEM in the middle school and high school, our district is looking at how to reconfigure the tech arts, keyboarding and family and consumer science curriculums. Currently, kids get essentially three years of keyboarding in middle school, with different levels of challenge. My thought is that now, teaching keyboarding by middle school is really too late- most kids have developed "bad" keyboarding habits by that time if they did not learn touch typing, and re-learning will be difficult.

I took a poll of HS juniors today to see what they thought, and they all hated typing class in middle school and said it was hard to learn because they already knew how to get by on a keyboard, for better or worse. This makes me think we really need to move our keyboarding into the elementary school sooner rather than later.

If so, what programs or advice might you offer? Are the cute, online computer games that teach home row typing good enough? Should there be an investment in software? Should we encourage parents to teach kids to type at home?

What do you think about keyboarding? When should kids learn to type, and what's the best way? And how would you change the middle school class to reflect needs? We're open to any and all ideas! What's worked in your school or with your kids?

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Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator 2014

Thanks Keith! That screen time actually sounds low unless it truly is some sort of average. In our community, the littlest ones are increasingly spending time on tablets; keyboarding AND mousing skills are a development area for us. That said, I do think home learning activities are crucial ... someone once told me the fastest way to have kids learn to keyboard (albeit probably with poor technique) is to give them a "Webkinz," a plus toy with an online account that they need to care for and manage (in case you are not aware of them). I'd have to agree - it was true back when those things were really popular!

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Absolutely, Keith. I made a case to our curriculum director that we needed to rethink this, and it looks like they are going to take some steps towards making some tweeks. I think we can co-opt parents to help kids master both handwriting and touch typing if we help them get access to the free resources available and stress how important it is to academic success.
Kids need to develop fluency with "output modes" which include handwriting and/or keyboarding, and if we're not going to take time during the school day to concentrate on these things, we better start stressing the importance to parents and ask for their help.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Thanks Adam! those were on my list of recommendations for our school district, so I'm glad to hear they are worth while!

Adam Fort's picture
Adam Fort
Touch typing enthusiast and educator

Thanks for reply, Whitney. Did you try Ratatype?

Rick Wilson's picture
Rick Wilson
eReflect

Hi Whitney , I sent you a complementary copy of the latest cloud Keyboarding Program for Education. Ultimate Typing EDU. Thanks

Karla Heyduk's picture

I'm the new Pre-k to 5th technology teacher at our elementary school and I feel we need to focus on teaching some basic keyboarding to our younger kids and a little more to our 3-5th grade students, especially after seeing some struggle with taking the new Smarter Balance state test that is required. Any helpful hints or ideas would be wonderful.

Tracey Siner's picture

I'm in a similar situation as you, Karla, as we prepare for the PARCC. Any thoughts on the EduTyping program?

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
K-4 Technology Facilitator from Northfield, New Jersey
Facilitator 2014

We use Typing Pal (http://www.typingpal.com/) and it's got some great features, a decent user interface, and the statistics are good. It's also very inexpensive.

We are looking at Typing Web (http://www.typingweb.com/) which seems a little better for older kids, has a different user interface and shorter lessons. Both are solid and worth checking out!

We start with "Keyboard Awareness" in K & 1 then introduce the formal typing programs in 2nd and continue through 4th. IDK what we do in Middle School, tho...

Hope this helps!

-kj-

Adam Fort's picture
Adam Fort
Touch typing enthusiast and educator

The best age to start learning a touch typing could be 5-7 years with typing tutor Dance Mat typing (http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing/) that all young kids love.

After 10-12, try tutors like Typeracer (http://play.typeracer.com) and Ratatype (http://www.ratatype.com) where children can compete.
At age of 7-9 kids should try more complicated tutors like TypingWeb (http://www.typingweb.com) that is more complicated and teacher may see the typist's progress.

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