The keyboarding dilema - Part 2

So if middle school it too late for our students to start learning keyboarding, when should we start?

I start about half-way through kindergarten! I feel that keyboarding is a key foundation for any future school technology.

I spend the first half of the school year teaching the kindergarteners how to use the computer, but then in the second half we start with Typing Tots, an online typing program. It is funny to watch them type the first few months, some of them are convinced that there keyboard is missing a letter. "Mr. Flick, my computer doesn't have the letter M!"

Just think about what is going on in their little brains; they are converting from lower-case letters on the screen to upper-case letters on a keyboard and are also having to learn a new sequence of letters -- they just figured out the ABCs and now they have QWERTYs.

First grade students mostly work in MS Word, I have three sentences on the screen that they must re-type. They do this to learn punctuations and how to properly use other keys like "enter." Keep in mind that they are still just using the "hunt and peck" method of keyboarding.

Second grade students now begin the long road of touch typing, or keyboarding without looking, they are now introduced to the home row. I use Dance Mat Typing, which the kids really enjoy.

Student repeat these same keyboarding lessons in the third and fourth grades.

In fifth grade the students should be proficient in keyboarding so I move them onto Nimble Fingers with is a down-and-dirty-nothing-fancy typing app. They must be keyboarding at 30 words a minute by the end of 5th grade. Most students finish at around 50 -- well prepared for middle school.

The keyboarding dilema - Part 1

As I speak at different conferences across the country about school technology I am often asked about keyboarding. I know it doesn't sound all that exciting but I believe it is one of the greatest tech skills that students need to develop.

Many school districts have dropped keyboarding, or typing, from the curriculum in both middle and high schools. It has been pushed down to the elementary-aged students.

I agree with this completely.

By the time a student shows up in middle school they need to already be proficient at keyboarding. Many of the assignments that are given to 12-year-olds and older are to be completed on a computer, not many teachers will allow hand-written work any more.

If a student shows up at middle school only typing a few words a minute they are severely handicapped. Imagine an assignment to do a 1000 word essay on the U.S. civil war. After about 30 minutes of work the student who is struggling at 8 to 10 words per minute is still working on his opening paragraph while another student who is at 50 to 60 words per minute is done.

I once had a 5th grade student that could type at over 100 word per minute, imagine his advantage over his classmates.

A student who struggles at keyboarding will struggle at school. He could be a very bright student with horrible grades because of keyboarding.

I will give more details on this tomorrow, everything from kindergarteners who lose letters to 5th graders who can type blindfolded.