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Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Key Seeker – Keyboarding for Kindergarten

ZEBRAS TEACHING KEYBOARDING IN THE JUNGLE??

Now I have heard everything.

I just found Key Seeker through Twitter (posted by tsmileygal).  It is an ingeneous program that is aimed at young keyboarders. It has the typical plot where a letter appears in the middle of the jungle followed by an animal or vine or x-ray whose name begins with that letter. What makes this program different is the high-pitched disembodied voice that helps the adventurer through the program. It’s fun!

Upon doing some additional research about Key Seeker, It appears that Ann White created this program as a Senior Project by students at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Congratulations, Students.

I must admit that I am not a fan of teaching keyboarding in kindergarten. I believe that students need to have a reason to keyboard. This means that they have/want to communicate using a written language and they don’t do enough of that in kindergarten to necessitate keyboarding skills. Having said this, Key Seeker is a fun program for neo-keyboarders – no matter the age.

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The Almena Method

picture-1 What would you say about learning the keys on the keyboard in an hour? The Almena Method claims that you can learn all of the key locations in an hour. It doesn’t claim that you will become an accomplished keyboarder in an hour, but they have a reference system for you to use to figure out which fingers you need to use for each of the letters.

The Almena Method is quite different from the standard style of mastering the homerow and then moving throughout the rest of the keyboard learning the keys. Almena King developed a series of mnemonic jingles to assist in remembering the key locations. Once you learn these

picture-2 jingles, you can just recite them to yourself to remember where you’ll find the letters.

Notice the first jingle, Quiet Aunt Zelda, is for the three keys you hit with your left pinky. Want Something eXtra is for your left ring finger . . . and so on and so on and so on.

The Almena method is available as a server-loaded program that will run through your school’s network. It is also available through the Web so that the students can run it at school and at home.

Does it work? We used it with a class of 4th graders and had reasonable outcomes. Not all of the students used the jingles. When we interviewed the students, only about half of them said that they used the jingles to find the letters. I think that it had something to do with their learning styles.

almenatitlepageThe program is not limited to learning the jingles. The Almena Method also includes a number of lessons that the students use to practice keying the letters they have learned using the jingles. It includes assessment tests as well to gauge student progress.

Have you tried the Almena Method?  How did it work?  What did you find that made it useful?

Z

The Typing of the Dead


Looking for ways to motivate boys to learn to keyboard?  Then you need to find The Typing of the Dead.

In this program, the player (you have to call him that because of the video game aspect of the program) is confronted with a never-ending onslaught of zombies and monsters.  Yes, you guessed it, the only way that they can fight the monsters is by typing the words quickly and accurately.

Don’t you love the keyboards that are attached to each of the heros’ chests?  It’s almost like being in Second Life.

This program is totally unique.  It is using the PacMan Theory of Motivation to get students to learn “something that’s good for ’em.”

This game was first released in 1999 in Japan for video arcades with dual keyboards. What a great way to take education to where the kids are . . .Typing from the Dead photo

Later, it was ported over to Dreamcast, Windows, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo. You might say that it has been received with mixed reactions. some call it “an enjoyable game.”  PC World identified it as one of the “Top Ten Worst Games

What about you, will you be putting this game in your schools anytime soon?  Comment about this.

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Type To Learn 4: What’s Important in Keyboarding Programs

Keyboarding programs have reached a new level of sophistication.

Sunburst Technologies has released their latest version of Type to Learn (TTL4) and it is revolutionary.  (I must admit that I worked as a consultant to Sunburst Technologies in the development of this product, but I believe that you will agree with me when you see what it includes.)

TTL4 is a research-based keyboarding program that is designed to provide a K – 12 keyboarding curriculum. This curriculum is divided into three parts (grades K-2, 3-6, 7-12) to provide age-appropriate content and reading levels.  Using an integrated cycle of assessment, review, demonstration and practice, TTL4 uses a gaming context to introduce students to keyboarding and motivate them to learn key location and strengthen they keyboarding skills.  The students play the role of “Agents of Information” to save the world by entering and managing information efficiently and effectively.

Here is a 3-minute video demo of Type to Learn 4.

I know that this sounds like a Sunburst ad because I took some of the material directly from their marketing material but I wanted to get that introductory part out the way.  Type to Learn 4 provides a motivating learning environment for the students and an incredible management system for their teachers.  This management system enables the teachers to individualize their students’ keyboarding experience to the point where it fits the specific needs of each learner. Each child is assessed at the beginning and then placed in the lessons that are most appropriate to their keyboarding skills.  This assessment is then repeated every 6 lessons to identify each student’s accomplishment and set new, reachable goals for the keyboarder to pursue in speed and accuracy.

I want to use Type to Learn 4 by Sunburst as an example of the many features that make a good program.  I know that this sounds like I am trying to sell the program but I assure you that while I was paid to consult in its creation, I have no agreement with Sunburst where I will receive any type of further compensation based upon the sales of Type To Learn 4.   Therefore, I would like to use this product as a base from which I can describe desirable characteristic and hopefully, you will provide your own personal feedback about what you consider important in a successful keyboarding program.

Stick with me for the next few posts about successful computer programs and provide your feedback about whether you agree with me or you think that my ideas are full of holes . . .

This process will take a couple of weeks to unfold but PLEASE provide your comments.

Z

Warm Up for Mouserobics!!!

Mouserobics

Looking for a fun mousing activity for your keyboarding learners?

Mouserobics is your answer!!!!

This simple but entertaining website hosted by the Central Kansas Library System is a winner. It takes the learner through 30 screens asking the learner to click on successive numbers along the way. These number appear in varying sizes and different screen locations to test the learner’s alertness and skill. As well as clicking on numbers, the learner is asked to use radio buttons, check boxes, drop down menus, and scroll bars.

This site is ready for kids from 5 through 105 years old. The accompanying text is written at about 5th grade, but that shouldn’t get in the way appealing to the younger crowd.

Happy Mousing,

Z

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