There is no reason in the world that fourth graders shouldn’t be able to key at 20 WPM. The typical 9 year old child handwrites at about 16 WPM so if you can get them to keyboard faster than that, they are ahead of the game. The reader can read it AND it’s in the dynamic world of word processing which means that their work can be easily revised and improved. This supports the improvement of writing skills as well as keyboarding skills.
The biggest problem that I see in keyboarding instruction that does not occur in a regular computer class (this means a class that is scheduled for the students to attend daily) is TOK (Time On Keyboard). How much time do your students get to use the keyboards? How much time do they practice their work? How many of them are practicing at home (for all of their possible negative aspects, chatrooms are wonderful practice places.)
I believe that we need to reconceptualize the reason for 8 year olds to keyboard. They aren’t preparing themselves for jobs as secretaries where they type a handwritten letter from their boss. We are preparing our students to use computers to communicate in an on-line world. This means that they need to be able to compose at the keyboard in a real time situation.
It is quite obvious that learning to use ten-fingers on a computer keyboard is a low level skill. Most teachers know that such skills are best learned in short lessons, and that the skills should be practiced over time. Research tells us, too, that practice is best when it takes place in the context of use. That many teachers continue to debate both the when and how of keyboarding lessons, suggests that the subject is still not quite understood in spite of known principles and the substantive research available. If you do have doubts about what should be done, it is worthwhile to look at the research…
Before computers, keyboard skills were taught by Typing Teachers in typing classes…
At the time formal keyboarding lessons are introduced, it has also been shown that software generated lessons are just as effective as teacher developed and directed lessons…
There is other research evidence to suggest that primary children are not ready to learn ten-finger keyboarding, but that they can still use keyboards productively…A good overall reference is the report titled Teaching Process Writing with Computers…
Keyboarding is an important skill for all students. Keyboarding involves using correct finger placement and building speed for optimal typing accuracy. When students develop a keyboarding proficiency at two to three times their average handwriting speed, it becomes an aid to the improvement of writing skills.
It is recommended that all students begin to learn correct placement of fingers on the keyboard as soon as they begin to use the computer. However, mastery is most efficiently attained at the fifth- to sixth-grade years. We highly recommend that students master keyboarding before they enter junior high. Here are some interesting facts regarding learning to keyboard:
- The Learning Disabilities Network Exchange, Vol. 14, No. 1, Spring/Summer, 1996: Keyboarding: Keys to Success–Especially for Students with Dyslexia” by Diana Hanbury King72 Sharp St, Suite A-2, Hingham, MA 02043 (Also check out Diana H King’s book, “Keyboarding Skills,” available through Educator’s Publishing Service, 1-800-225-5750.)
- Children’s Software Review, Volume 4, No 5, Oct/Nov 1996: “Five Myths About Kids Writing with Computers”
- Internet Resource: PM Keyboarding Knowhow: Research Overview Keyboarding. This cites research by Wetzel (1985) and Stoecker (1985) among others. . .
Keyboard Research References… research from typewriting to computers dating from the 1920’s to the mid 1990’s. Refrences by researchers, teachers, etc., about teaching keybording skills.
Instructional Strategies of Teaching Keyboarding was taught at the State University of West Georgia during the Winter Quarter, 1998, as an on-line course. Twenty-four graduate students were enrolled in the course that was scheduled to meet for 10 class periods from 5:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. on Monday evenings. Three of these classes were held on campus at the university; the remaining seven classes were conducted on the Internet, with students and the instructor “attending class” from a home computer at a remote site.
All schools are introducing the proper techniques of keyboarding in the early elementary grades and are encouraging students to work on developing and using proper technique at every opportunity – in the classroom, computer lab, and most importantly, at home – that’s probably where they spend the most time on the computer, so parent involvement is very important. This site shares information for parents and teachers on keyboarding so everyone working with students will use every opportunity to help students learn keyboarding. It’s a valuable skill for every student in this technological world. Parents – do your kids a favor and encourage them to learn proper keyboarding technique.
With the widespread use of computers in schools and homes, keyboarding instruction has moved down to the elementary grades. Younger and younger children are becoming fluent computer users and it is important for them to learn proper keyboarding techniques early so that they do not develop bad habits that are very hard to break.
Keyboarding in Elementary Schools: Curricular Issues (1989)
Provides historical context for keyboarding/typing and uses research to support when and how keyboarding should be taught.