Where you can learn about, share, and discuss teaching keyboarding

What effect does a 4-week online computer keyboarding instructional tutorial have on 4th grade students?

Teaching keyboarding at the elementary level is the way it should be.  Kids are using computers during their preschool ages and should be provided guidance early in their lives so as to develop good keyboarding habits.  I must admit that I am not a fan of preschool keyboarding instruction. I think that it should begin about 3rd grade. Research states that 8 years old is a good age because students have developed the coordination and manual dexterity to keyboard efficiently.

I agree with the physical development statements, but more importantly they have a reason to communicate in a written format.  It doesn’t make sense for kids to learn how to keyboard if they don’t have much to say.

Amy Lockhart and I had an opportunity to do some keyboarding research in her 4th grade classroom at Price Laboratory School at the University of Northern Iowa. We involved the students in 4-weeks of instruction. We spent 40 minutes a day in the computer lab learning how to keyboard. It was fun and productive.

Keyboarding Camp! Keyboarding Skills for 4th Grade Students (.pdf)

We used the Almena Keyboarding Method. This is a unique form of instruction where instead of learning the homerow first, the Almena Method uses a series of mnemonic jingles for each finger’s keys. These jingles consist of three-word phrases that allow the students to learn the keys’ locations. The phrase, “Quiet Aunt Zelda”, was used to remember the left little finger keys; Q, A and Z. The phrase, “Over Longer Periods”, was used for the right ring finger keys; O, L and P.

The Almena Keyboarding Method was relatively successful. The 4th graders averaged an improvement of 2.6 Adjusted Words Per Minute (A-WPM). The A-WPM was calculated by subtracting the number of Errors Per Minute (EPM) from the WPM. While 2.6 doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, consider that they began at an average of 7.2 A-WPM.  This means that they improved an average of 36% in keyboarding fluency.  Not bad.

What was unique about our action research was that we also investigated how specific attributes affected students’ ability to keyboard.  These characteristics were: Gender, Age, Hand Size, Music Experience, and Athletic Experience.

  • Gender – Boy or girl.
  • Age – Students’ ages ranged from 9 – 11 years old.
  • Hand Size – Students’ hand sizes ranged from 5.0 to 6.75 inches in length from wrist to the tip of the middle finger. This variable was classified into three groups for analysis.
  • Music Experience – Students were questioned about their musical experience. If they had taken lesson for playing a musical instrument, they were identified as having Musical Experience.
  • Athletic Experience – Students were questioned about their athletic experience. If they had been involved in an organized athletic activity, they were identified as having Athletic Experience.

We had some interesting results.  Here is an table displaying the overall results based upon Adjusted Words Per Minute:

What does this tell you?  The small size of the sample does not allow us to generalize to a larger population, but it shows some trends that should lead to additional research.

  • Musical experience seems to have an affect on success using keyboarding tutorials.
  • Younger students tended to key faster then their older classmates.
  • Students with smaller hands tended to key faster than their bigger-handed classmates.

We need to further analyze this data to investigate how multiple variables affect A-WPM. Do small-handed 9-year-olds key faster then bigger-handed 9-year-olds?

If this research catches your interest, you can download the whole .pdf file here:

What are your experiences in young students keyboarding?

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Lots of school districts are launching 1-to-1 initiatives in their schools, but they are necessarily providing the keyboarding instruction that their students need to receive if they are going to get the most out of their new computers.

Some teachers believe that the students need to take a full semester of keyboarding before they should be allowed to touch the computer.  Other educators believe that the students already know how to keyboard (albeit Hunt-and-Peck) from all of the computer work they do on a day-to-day basis.

I would like to weigh-in on these issues by providing this brief posting as the framework of my argument and then linking you to my other postings that further explain these points. I will begin by discussing the 3 necessary elements in teaching keyboarding and then discuss how it would be most efficient to teach keyboarding in a school setting:
There are 3 basic issues to consider when teaching keyboarding: Accuracy, Speed and Technique (including Ergonomics.) Certainly keyboarding classes worry about proper business letter format but that isn’t keyboarding.  That is business communication and technically is irrelevant to the act of keyboarding itself.

Accuracy
The need for accuracy goes without discussion. When someone keyboards, they need to be able to type the correct letters to convey the ideas that they want to share. The method for achieving accuracy is what is up for discussion. There are primarily two methods for knowing how to press the correct key:

  1. The most obvious method is to look at the keyboard, find the desired letter and press the key. This can be accurate but not too efficient. Everyday you see  that students have learned to use the hunt-and-peck method to key but this limits their speed.  Speed is ultimately important.
  2. The more productive method of being accurate is to learn touch keyboarding.  This is the method taught in schools. Keyboarders memorize which fingers are used to tap each of the keys. After sufficient practice, this connection becomes automatic and the keyboarders can accurately key without even thinking about it.

Speed
Speed is essential if we want to keep up with our students’ thought processes today. One of the realizations that we need to make is that people use keyboarding differently than offices used typing in the 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s.  Back then, we were training people to type what someone else has written. Often typing pools or executive secretaries would formalize the handwritten letters of their bosses.  Today, people use keyboarding for original composition.  Whether it is writing a paper, email or Instant Message, there is a flow of ideas coming from the keyboardist’s thoughts that s/he is trying to capture. Poor speed can certainly get in the way here. I don’t know how fast you type, but on a good day I can type 60+ words per minute.  That means that I am striking at least 5 keys per second. Even with this speed, I often get frustrated because my thoughts are flowing faster than my fingers can move. I don’t have any research to back this up, but I would guess that hunt-and-peck will limit a keyboarder’s speed to 35 wpm.

Who Touch Types? https://keyboarding.wordpress.com/2008/02/21/who-touch-types/

Technique
Technique involves the methods that keyboarders should use to optimize their speed and the ergonomics that will lessen physical injuries. This is important and you will be able to read more about it in the articles I am going to recommend from my Keyboarding site.   As you probably noticed, I have cataloged the research on this website by the categories in the right-hand column.

You can get a good review of the keyboarding research by reading  the White Paper that I wrote for Sunburst and their software, Type To Learn 4. I was also the research consultant for their work.  Type To Learn 4 won a national award for excellence in software in 2009.

A New Look @ Research-Based Keyboarding Instruction
https://keyboarding.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/a-new-look-research-based-keyboarding-instruction/

How to Teach Keyboarding
How should you teach keyboarding?  Everyday for 30-40 minutes for 4 weeks.  This will provide a good basis.  Here is an article that I wrote on this.

Why are you teaching keyboarding? https://keyboarding.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/why-are-you-teaching-keyboarding/

I hope that this is helpful and you might want to  review more of the Keyboarding Research website to find the references that I didn’t include here.

What are you doing in your schools to teach keyboarding.  Have any of you decided NOT to teach your students how to keyboard?

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Rock and Roll Keyboarding 4 U

Looking for an online keyboarding program that is fun and effective? A couple of years ago I shared the BBC Dance Mat Typing system. It is a unique animated program where the Brits take keyboarding novices through their paces while singing Rock and Roll!!!!

How can you lose? It has all of the necessary elements: Rock and Roll, well-designed lessons, and animated goats, chickens and frogs.

I like the overall program but I thought that the initial interface might be a bit confusing. SOOOO, I created my own wiki opening screen. It worked well and our 4th grade kids loved it. The funniest part was that after they spent half an hour listening to goats sing rock and roll with a cockney accent, they spent the rest of the day “talking funny.” =-)

Give it a try and tell us how your students (and you) liked it.

Z

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mcenroeIs keyboarding replacing handwriting instruction in today’s schools?

This is the question that Connecticut NPR’s (WNPR) talk show host, Colin McEnroe posed to author Kitty Burns Florey in a 25-minute interview on 9/3/209. Florey wrote the book Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. This is a wonderful book that begins by telling the history of handwriting and the tools used to make it possible. Flory then discusses the implications of promoting (and not promoting) handwriting in today’s society.

Providing counterpoint to Mrs. Florey, McEnroe included me (Leigh Zeitz) as the keyboarding advocate.  Actually, Kitty had contacted me while she was writing her book and she had suggested that I should be in the conversation. Thank You, Kitty.

Rounding off the group was Dr. Betty Getty of Portland Community College who developed the revolutionary Italic Handwriting system that can even help doctors improve their handwriting to a point of legibility.

The discussion was an amiable one. It was pretty much agreed that keyboarding and handwriting are both essential skills.  Keyboarding is a lifelong skill that needs to be taught in the 3rd grade to get students “off on the right track.” Handwriting is a skill that every person needs to have to allow them to complete the everyday activities.

I tried to introduce how learning to write in the dynamic world of word processing actually changes how we think when we write. It didn’t make much impact on the discussion. The rest of the folks were discussing how handwriting enabled writers to “get he feel of the words” as they write.

You might enjoy listening to the podcast.  Here’s the link.
(There’s a prolonged ad at the beginning. Our interview begins about 10 minutes into the podcast.)

Podcast: http://tinyurl.com/handwritingmacenroe

Where to Find Keyboarding Lesson Plans and Tutorials

Finding online lesson plans and tutorials for keyboarding is a great way for teachers to save time and engage students in the classroom. Here are a few resources that can be used to teach beginner and advanced keyboarders finger placement, speed, and accuracy:

Teachers.net – The Teachers.net site provides 36 keyboarding lesson plans for students of all ages. The lesson plans range from beginner to advanced.

Learn Keyboard Typing – Learn Keyboard Typing offers step-by-step instruction to help students increase keyboarding skills. This four-lesson tutorial provides demos, tips on finger placement, and a practice area.

Keyboarding & Applications – This instructional site from Tayna Skinner’s Business Education Lesson Plans features lesson plans and activities, keyboarding educational links, and typing tutors for students of all ages.

TestMyTyping.com – TestMyTyping.com offers a fun and easy typing tutorial for improving typing speed. The tutorial features 10 lessons which can be used by beginner and advanced typists.

MrKent’s Typing Tutor – MrKent’s Typing Tutor is an interactive tutorial for learning the placement of keys without having to actually look at the keys. The tutorial features 14 learning lessons in all.

Education World – This open source lesson plan site features a Primary Keyboarding Skills section for grades K-2. The lessons in this section introduce younger students to the home row of keys by using phrases that correlate to the letters on the keys.

Utah Education Network – The Utah Education Network offers keyboarding lesson plans designed for grades 6-9. The lesson plans can be used to improve accuracy, speed, and finger placement.

Glencoe’s Online Keyboarding – This online interactive keyboarding tutorial features 16 keyboarding lessons as well as tips for improving finger placement.

Nail It Now – Nail It Now provides a fun, four-lesson tutorial for elementary school children. The objective is for children to learn and understand key positions as well as finger placement.

Typing Games and Lessons – This keyboarding site provides free online tutorials and lessons for improving typing skills and speed.

Typing Tutor – Typing Tutor is a Java typing tutor/game that can be used to practice keyboarding skills.

MoneyInstructor.com – MoneyInstuctor.com provides lessons, typing worksheets, exercises, and finger charts for keyboarding students and teachers.

TeAchnology – This online teaching resource provides several lesson plans designed to improve keyboarding skills. Teachers can also find rubrics and worksheets for beginner to advanced keyboarders.

Lesson Plans – This keyboarding lesson plan from Lesson Plans improves speed and accuracy through group drills. This is a fun way for 5th through 12th graders to improve typing skills.

Computer Training Tutorials – The Computer Training Tutorials site offers an interactive tutorial for beginning keyboarders. This tutorial gives explanations of the keys and provides a practice area to test skills.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes for OnlineCollege.org, an online college resource.

20 Free Keyboarding Resources for the Classroom

The Internet is an excellent place to find fun and cost-effective ways to improve your students’
keyboarding skills. Resources that increase speed and accuracy are available for keyboarders at any level. Here is a list of 20 free lessons, tests, games, and activities to explore today:

Lessons and Tests

Goodtyping – Goodtyping offers a free typing course to correct your finger placement and increase speed. This web-based course provides a total of 27 guided lessons in 18 different layouts.

Typingweb – Typingweb is a good typing resource for students of all ages. The site offers a complete course, typing tutorials, exercises, and tests to improve accuracy and speed.

Sens-lang.org – Sens-lang.org offers lessons, tutors, games, and tests to increase keyboarding skills. The site also provides visual demonstrations, tips, and tricks to improve finger placement.

Alpha Free Typing Tutor – The Alpha Free Typing Tutor provides step-by-step instruction to improve keyboarding ability. The site also hosts lessons, games, and tests that score wpm and accuracy.

BellaOnline – BellaOnline features five free typing tests for speed and accuracy. Two great tests to try include the Pride and Prejudice test and the Hamlet test.

Keybr.com – This free typing tutorial hosts three basic lessons guaranteed to improve keyboarding skills. Keybr.com even lets you import text from a website or blog so that you can customize your learning environment.

Learn 2 Type for Kids – Learn 2 Type provides typing lessons and games that are specifically designed for kids. Teachers can register for a free account to create customized lessons based on age and grade.

TypingLessons-Online.com
This instructional learning site features video instructions, character exercises, and speed typing lessons. Lessons can be customized with news articles or your own text.

ARTypist – ARTypist was created to help students learn, improve, and master keyboarding. This online tutor provides 10 lessons and games.

?The UgLY TypInG PrACtice ProGrAM! – This online keyboarding program specializes in customizable speed drills for numbers, punctuation, and symbols. This site isn’t the most visually pleasing space to behold, but it does provide powerful practice with fully customizable keyboarding improvement options.

Games and Activities

AlphAttack – AlphAttack is a keyboarding game provided by Gamequarium. This game is a great way to build accuracy and learn the placement of letters on the keyboard.

Keyboarding Skills – E-learning for Kids offers this free keyboarding game for 5th-12th graders. The game covers a wide range of keyboarding and navigation skills.

Keyman – The TypingMaster provides many fun and original games for children of all ages. The Keyman game is a special typing version of Pacman which allows you to learn keyboarding skills while avoiding the evil typo ghosts.

Typer Shark – The Typer Shark from Pop Cap is an excellent way to increase typing speed. The game provides several settings from easy (20wpm) to expert (70wpm).  There is also an extreme setting for fast-fingered keyboarders.

Type Type Revolution – Played Online provides 20 different games to increasing your 10-fingered typing skills, including Type Type Revolution. This fun, interactive game can challenge anyone’s keyboarding skills.

TypeMaster – The TypeMaster challenges students to type 10 lines as fast as they can. The game then calculates the student’s time, speed, and wpm.

Speed Typing – Speed Typing improves speed and accuracy through this fun, fast-typing game.  The object is to type 12 words as fast as you can without typos. The words get more difficult as your work toward the 12th row.

Cup Stacking – LearningGamesforKids.com offers three fun typing games for children, including this Cup Stacking game.  Cup Stacking is designed specifically for the elementary learners.

Typo – Typo is an interactive keying game to increase your typing accuracy. The game teaches you to type quickly and reduces points for typos.

Goalie – This game from Customtyping.com works on keyboarding speed by challenging users to type a word next to the on-screen ball.  If you don’t type fast enough, you’re out of the game.

Guest post from Karen
Schweitzer, the About.com Guide to Business School. Karen also writes about colleges online for
OnlineColleges.net.

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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