Thursday, September 12, 2013

Individualized Keyboarding Instruction

I recently sat at a table with a group of middle school social studies and language arts teachers discussing how Google Docs and Chrome Books will be utilized in their classrooms this year. One of the teachers chimed in saying, "Do you know what our incoming 6th graders really need before they get to middle school? Keyboarding skills. Teaching my students to write would go so much more smoothly if they knew how to input their thoughts fluently on a computer."

I couldn't agree more. For several years now I have been tasked with supporting the Canyons School District keyboarding program. I have become convinced that the need for students to be fluent on a computer keyboard has not gone away and will not go away any time soon. In fact, our increased use of computers and other technology devices in education has increased the need for students to be able input fluently on a keyboard.

The Canyons District keyboarding program is outlined on the Ed Tech Department website found at Teachers in grades 3-6 are required, according to Utah state core curriculum, to teach keyboarding. Teachers in younger grades are encouraged to begin teaching basic keyboarding concepts early, and teachers in older grades are encouraged to review and re-emphasize proper keyboarding technique.

All elementary schools should have begun their focused 20-day Keyboard Chatter instruction on September 3. Read more about Keyboard Chatter here. 6th grade keyboarding teachers are using Keyboard Craze in their classrooms. Read more about Keyboard Craze here.

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching any subject, including keyboarding, is differentiating instruction. In keyboarding, teachers should be evaluating and assessing student keyboarding skills on a regular basis to ensure each student is being challenged to improve first their technique and then their accuracy and speed. Following are several ways teachers can differentiate keyboarding instruction:
  • Use pre-assessments to set individual technique, speed, and accuracy goals for each student.
  • Use a technique name card to celebrate individual technique strengths and correct individual technique problems. (See image)
  • When dictating keyboarding drills, invite those who need to be challenged to try typing each letter or word twice each time you say it rather than just once like the rest of the class.
  • Make a game out of specific mistakes you see students making. For example, one time a line is dictated celebrate students who were able to get all of the commas typed correctly. The next time celebrate students who correctly keyed difficult letter combinations. The next time, celebrate students who were able to get all of the capital letters keyed correctly, etc.
  • Use warm-up software that allows students to progress at their own rate. (Canyons District uses Keyboarding for Kids and Keyboard Mastery.)
In the near future, I will be posting video examples of great keyboarding teachers showing how these techniques and more work in their classrooms. Stay tuned, and keep keyboarding!

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