Having attended numerous faculty and team meetings in the past, one thing is obvious, everyone feels very protective about their class time and what they feel is most important to teach. With increased rigor in the classrooms and online assessments planned, is there time in the current school day structure to include skills once thought to be necessary? There has been much discussion concerning the teaching of cursive handwriting in our schools today. Is there a need? Cursive handwriting is not included in the Common Core. Individual states may decide to continue to teach cursive. Take a look at one of the other discussions to see what educators are saying.
A July 31, 2013 post in the Conway Daily Sun assures us that cursive is on the way out. "The national standards don't require children to learn how to read and write in cursive. They do, however, require that by the end of fourth grade, students demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to complete a one-page writing assignment."
Proper instruction for keyboarding was a life saver for me, although I had to have special permission to take it in high school. I'm not the fastest typist and now a days, the delete/backspace key is my best friend. Will schools include keyboarding instruction? Will keyboarding be taught as a basic skill? Students can be encouraged to learn keyboarding on their own by using available online tutorials. Try using Nimble Fingers, Sense Lang,or Learn to Type.
Perhaps you could include Basic Handwriting as a center activity, just in case you have the need to 'sign your name' in the future.
Good question, Hilda. I don't think Common Core Standards should dictate all courses offered in public school.
And as for typing. It was the most practical course I ever took in school. I think proper keyboarding skills should be stressed in grade schools, word processing skills taught in middle school, and advanced research writing addressed in high school.
Some adults would appreciate a "thumb typing" course for purposes of texting. <smiles> What life courses do kids need? Until we shift totally to voice activated computer research and products, typing is certainly one of them.
I agree with both of you, Hilda and Joe. We have to consider all K12 courses that prepare students with life skills.
A four year college has always maintained a focus of teaching students to think critically and to be innovative... we have support of a vertical delivery of thinking skills with Common Core now in K12, but colleges also expect student to arrive with computer skills, able to use a database, a spreadsheet, and write a research paper with proper footnotes. When will students acquire these skills? Not in college, maybe in a community college, but most likely in public school.
What other courses may need advocates to keep them being offered in public schools? And who should decide what these extended courses are?
Jane and others,
High school students are expected to arrive with computer skills, able to use a database, a spreadsheet, and write a research paper with proper footnotes. So it has to be taught in the elementary, starting in 3rd or 4th grade. Research should also start in 5th and 6th grade so students have a good background knowledge by 7th and 8th grade.
I will be teaching 3rd to 8th grade keyboarding in Scottsdale, Arizona at ANLC (Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center) because we are taking the PARCC testing which is all done on the computer. The fourth grade must type/keyboard their writing assessment. My worry is, if the child can't type, then are the results going to be valid.
What Say YOU?
What a shame.
If I were teaching in your school and students were facing that kind of an assessment, I'd xerox paper keyboards for each student and talk to them about proper hand position and reaches.
Then I'd enlist parental support to have students use one of Jeanne's free online keyboarding programs at home on the family computer. Even a computer that has a wordprocessing program on it but no Internet connection would work if strips of text are sent home for practice time.
Some students might even have an old typewriter or use their paper keyboards to practice. Trips to the library can give students computer access. Shared practice typing at a friend's computer can be more fun than doing it alone.
To assess progress you could go to the computer lab and test out once a week with two students to a computer, one watching the other for proper reaches and scoring personal bests.
Just because there isn't a computer teacher teaching keyboarding doesn't mean that students have to lose out on this skill. Extending learning beyond the classroom has advantages. And if teachers and parents can make it fun, students are the winners.
What do you teachers do to help students reach competencies for the 3rd grade assessment described?
Jane, I even saved old keyboards from computers that were no longer able to be used. Only one teacher in the elementary school where I worked used them. When I asked a teacher, "why not?", the response was that the kids need to SEE what they are doing. But, I still think it is a good practice tool.
Now that is a good idea, Jeanne. Many schools and parents could contribute to your stash of keyboards. You could even cut off the cords to reduce tangles.
I understand your teachers thinking students have to see what they type but one has to focus on the purpose of the exercise and always consider the available computer time for students.
You are probably not going to like this next comment, but I use speedskins to teach keyboarding.
http://www.speedskin.com/home.html A friend of mine did a study on this concept, and it was proven that a child will learn to keyboard faster and with more accuracy while being taught keyboarding with a cover over the letters. See picture on site. I have been using them for years.
I have been utilizing them for the past ten years. I actually have a video of one of my 8th grade students typing over 90 words a minute with two errors using speedskins.
Very true, Elaine. I read a few years ago that the Qwerty method was 'obsolete' and kids should be taught to move up and down on the keyboard...no need to 'slam' the carriage across like on our typewriters! I fear there has been so much focus on assessment and teacher accountability that the curriculum itself has been neglected. I believe Joe is right when he says, " I think proper keyboarding skills should be stressed in grade schools, word processing skills taught in middle school, and advanced research writing addressed in high school." The middle school I was working at had a half day tech teacher. She did cover word processing, even using Google Docs. However, in a school with over 800 students and the class only open to grade 8 and only being able to service about 100 students in a quarter, well, you get the idea.
Yes, I get the idea. I will be teaching computers/keyboarding to 3rd through 8th grade students this year, but will only see my 3rd - 6th grade students once every sixth day. I will see my 7th and 8th grade students twice a week. Now try to integrate technology into core curriculum and teach keyboarding at the same time, and did I mention that there are 36 students in a classroom.
If anyone has any suggesting on how to do this, please let me know.
I am a strong advocate of learning keyboarding skills. In this age of computers, I can't believe so many people still use the "hunt and peck" method. I think keyboarding should be a mandatory course for all students by grades 5 or 6. I taught sixth grade keyboarding and enjoyed seeing the students increase their typing speed and accuracy. They soon realized learning to type was definitely a good lifelong skill and easier than they anticipated.
When I taught keyboarding, I introduced all my students to a website called Learn2Type. It is free and you can set up a school account and see the progress of each of your students as they work through the drills. See Learn2TypeforSchools.
I also learned that it is helpful to have game-style activities to motivate middle school students. Here are some suggested sites:
Other good keyboarding sites I recommend are as follows:
Do you use some online resources for teaching typing? Please share your experiences with us.
I couldn't say it better. We live in a digital age, and we have to have the skills to live in the 21st Century.
The program that my school uses is MicroType 5. It is not free I like this because it will give you timed writings and each student will go at their own speed. There is always a record of what they have done and how well they did.
Today is my first day of school with my students, and I hope that keyboarding will support the other endeavors of my computer basic class.
Thanks, Kingston. Best wishes for a great school year with your computer classes. I used MicroType Pro when I taught 6th grade keyboarding. I liked the format, but my students wanted to hurry through the lessons so they could play the game at the end. I realize this generation is game oriented which can be a positive and a negative motivator. I thought the game was boring because it never changed throughout the entire program. Perhaps the newer versions have more variety in the game section.
Just popping in to say, I used Mavis Beacon in a middle school and found it good for older students or adults. It tracked progress nicely. The problem was cost. What school doesn't expect teachers to do a lot with little.
One of the advantages of using an free online typing program is students may use them at home too. I would certainly make a list of free typing programs available to my middle school students and their parents. Some students are so driven that he/she will teach himself/herself. Others gain impetus from competition. Whatever works!
Elaine, I am glad you found the list helpful. The discussions in the Community are great places to share resources and experiences. I appreciate your suggestion of Typing Club. I have not heard of that site and am happy to add it to my list.
Not all schools have higher technology for students. My concept is MicroType at school and FREE at home practice...........also speedskins
I also have what I call a triangulation for each grade level showing them where they should be at the end of each month with the state standard reached in May. So it is baby-steps along the was to success.
I know-that's the problem with technology-everyone's at a different place. I also think another problem is not all kids have home access. Getting devices into their hands will be part of the "keys" to success-especially with the PARCC assessments coming next year. I am worried about how the kids will be able to type their answers to the test questions. I heard one of the key ideas that we need to get across to them is copying text from one document and pasting into another. A lot of things need to come together for things to be successful when testing like this begins...
I am grateful for the suggested free typing practice sites. I will share them with the teachers in my district.
When I taught keyboarding, I introduced all my students to a website called Learn2Type. It is free and you can set up a school account and see the progress of each of your students as they work through the drills. Learn2TypeforSchools
The program we purchased for our students was MicroType 5--"an alphabetic, numeric, skillbuilding, and keypad program with motivating graphics, games, and a word processor with built-in timer." This software program teaches correct finger placement and builds basic skills, then works on speed and accuracy. It is produced by South-Western Educational Publishing. I've provided a link to the website where you can request an examination copy. (http://www.cengage.com/search/productOverview.do?N=+16+11&Ntk=P_Isbn13&Ntt=9780538449809) You can purchase individual or network licensing. The Academic Superstore has pricing for it also (http://www.academicsuperstore.com/).
Another popular program Mavis Beacon by Broderbund is available online as well as through a licensing agreement. "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing® makes it fun to improve keyboarding skills with typing practice and games that focus on speed, accuracy and rhythm. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing utilizes a proven method of typing instruction to help keyboarders, from novice to experienced, improve typing skills."
If you need typing software programs or typing lesson plans that teachers have used successfully with students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, you may want to consider Typing Tutors.
My school never had issues with Microtype 5 crashing. Perhaps the server in your school is in high demand and that causes an overload. My experience with programs that crashed usually was resolved when I deleted the software and reinstalled the program on individual computers or on a server.
I'm sorry I don't have the technical expertise to help you. It's always frustrating to have a good product, but students can't benefit because the technology keeps failing.
Best of luck!
Kingston, sometimes the product has necessary upgrades to "debug" whatever is wrong with the program.
Current system requirements are shown below and if your equipment doesn't fit the requirements, you will continue to have issues:
MicroType - What are the Microtype 5 System Requirements?
The following requirements are necessary:
-PC (or 100%-compatible) with 233 MHz Pentium II or higher processor
-256 MB RAM (minimum 512 recommended), CD-ROM drive, hard disk with 500 MB free disk space
-Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP2, Vista, Windows 7.
-Microsoft Office 2007, trial version not compatible
-SoundBlaster-compatible sound card and speakers
-800 x 600 graphics with 256 colors or more
-IE 5+, Internet connection speed of minimum 100 Kbps if wanting Distance Learning options. Dial-up/Wireless/AirCard Internet connections are not supported.
I also found this comment and it leads me to believe there is a newer version:
MicroType - I'm getting a MicroType 5 Slow Load error.
Thank you for purchasing MicroType 5 or one of the MicroType 5 with CheckPro products. In the past, several customers have reported an issue with slow load time on these keyboarding products when students are logging in to a networked version. This issue was corrected in the most recent version of the program.
If you are an instructor or administrator with a site license for your institution, please contact your sales representative to receive a more recent copy. If you need to locate your sales representative, go tohttp://www.cengage.com/rep/index.html.
Also found a nice handout for MicroType 5 .