We have very limited keyboarding offerings in my district. While keyboarding is touched upon in K-5 classes - it is a sporadic effort at best. In our 6th grade curriculum, keyboarding is addressed for a few weeks, but without the prolonged consistency needed to build true proficiency. As a former business education teacher, I am dismayed by the lack of emphasis on what I believe is an essential skill. Maybe I'm crazy. Does anyone else feel this way?

Deb
New Jersey

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Hi Barbara,
I think this yours is the ideal plan for this day and age. The complaint in my district is that they don't have time in grades 3-5. We have dedicated a lot of time and money to world language which I admit, I personally do not see as beneficial in the whole scheme of a student's education as I do cumlative technology learning. In my opinion, students can learn and become proficient in a foreign language in high school if they choose to do so. Why do they have to spend so much time, money, and the years in elementary and middle school? What is the true end benefit?

Would you be willing to share a copy of your curriculum? I would love to show it to my boss.
Deb,
This is an interesting thread.

I have been an advocate for starting keyboarding as early as possible. In reading the other threads, two thoughts came to mind. 1. For musicians - do we wait until their hands are big enough and fine motor skills developed before teaching proper fingering (not being a musician I am guessing NO) 2. When we teach reading or writing, we teach and shape approximations. (While primary students may be allowed to use invented spellings, the teacher doesn't send home notices with invented spelling...)

In our District, we have just developed a Student Learning Capacity continuum for Information and Media Literacy. The only item that has been challenged is teaching the home row keys in Grade 2 /3. In Grade 4 /5 they are expected to be able to use the home row (not consistently) and then in Grade 6/7, they should be able to touch type (aiming for consistency.

I strongly believe that we need to start skill building early. Three pieces of either folklore or research that I have forgotten their source are:
1. If students don't learn a skill before they are 10 years old, they can never excel to their potential. (Most olympians started either the sport or one with similar skills at a young age)
2. People can think at more than 100 words per minute. Ideally we would have the skill to get the thinking out at a similar speed.
3. If students can't type at 13 wpm, then they are better to hand write (print).

We have recently done some research with Grade 5 students having access to 1:1 computers for writing time (minimum 1 hour per day). Results showed that they were able to write far more with the computer than by hand (especially for boys). Boys and Girls also celebrated that their hands didn't hurt when they finished writing.

I do believe that keyboarding in some form should be taught from an early age. As long as there is an agreed continuum that moves students forward to meet their learning needs, we are on the right track.
Wow, Kevin, well said. Keyboarding is a means to an end. It allows students and, really all of us, the luxury of creating without thinking about the method. I see some students in my class struggle with keyboarding and getting frustrated by the time it takes for them to complete projects while their more skilled classmates fly through the assignments, adding bells and whistles to ... whatever they're doing.

As far as dropping cursive (Sylvia's comment about the district recommendation) I am reminded of when I taught second and third grade and found students who couldn't read certain fonts because they were in script. Titles of books were mysteries to them.

My feeling, with keyboarding, cursive, etc. is...teach the skill, give time to practice, then let the students choose the method. As a fifth grade teacher, I have some who prefer printing, some cursive, most (after a year with me in a technology rich classroom) keyboarding. They all now know how...now they can choose.
I agree with you Lisa. I wouldn't want to see the day when students didn't know how to sign their own names!
Hi Kevin,
Sounds like your district has a really good plan. I have been preaching my "keyboarding" sermon for the 8 years that I have been employed by my district as a computer facilitator. The eyes roll now whenever the topic comes up. They just don't want to hear it. Smart boards are so much....uh....smarter, more fun, exciting..... Keyboarding is viewed as boring and tedious - even by those who sometimes have to teach it. Often these teachers are not even qualified to teach keyboarding because in NJ we have no certification for teaching any type of computer technology class for K-8 students - which can and has included a myriad of subjects. As a business education teacher, I taught keyboarding in business school to adults, to high school and middle school students. Did I love it?? Probably not as much as I loved teaching art graphics or programming or multimedia - but I did believe in what I was doing and why.
Deb: You should be dismayed. We need more educators and parents to standup and shout. So many of us just sit back and complain to our collegaues or neighbors but do nothing (myself included at times). We need administrators who are tech savy so technology becomes a priority in districts around the country. It's amazing that we're even having this discussion since keyboarding is such an intergral piece in the scope of technology and our society/economy is so technologically oriented. If we can't get our districts to agree on such a fundamental ingredient, to a child's success, such as keyboarding then we are in trouble as a nation. It's still amazing to me that art and music are mandated yet computers aren't. How many artists and musicians do you know compared to the level of our population that use computers/keyboarding in some fashion. The arts are important too but if I had to choose - technology would be at the top of my list instead of an after thought as it is in some districts.
Hi Frank,
Thank you for your encouraging email. I have to admit that I'm tired of fighting this battle. I often think that if so many people disagree with me, perhaps I'm wrong or even crazy believing keyboarding is so important. I have accepted the fact that it is not a battle that I'm going to win in this district. We are a high end district - located near Princeton - and keyboarding is looked down upon as a very rudimentary skill. So what do we do as educators?? Well, maybe we can try educating the public, the parents as to what we know is important rather then what new fad thing the news tells them their kids should be doing. After all, we are supposed to be the experts. Unfortunately, it rarely plays out this way politically - at least in real life!! That's why they make movies about educational triumphs because beating this system is a supernatural feat worthy of a role in the TV series, "Heros."
Why not try using this site - my students love it as it is engaging, funny and effective:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing/

Apart form using this package I do not teach keyboarding at my school because, like it or not, in IT terms it is simply not a high enough level skill compared to all of the other IT-related skills that they need to be taught (certainly accoriding to the UK National Curriculum it isn't).
Hello Drew,
Very cute program. I hope all the time, energy and money spent on teaching high end IT skills to every student continues to be valid and relevant in the long run. It's pretty crazy that keyboarding skills learned by an individual 20, 30, 40 years ago can still be applied today. While I'm not saying the QWERTY keyboard is necessarily ideal, I still do believe in touch typing/keyboarding for fluency. It is an essential and unfortunately under estimated skill. I personally have seen a connection between kids and/or adult who claim to dislike technology and poor keyboarding ability.
Deb
Thanks for the great link! I can use this to engage my 2nd-4th graders. I currently begin at third grade (age 8) but I have been looking for something that will be fun/educational for the second graders, too.

I am also in the process of evaluating an online curriculum from www.EllsworthPublishing.com. I am open to other suggestions, too. Since I only have 45 minutes per week to teach my introductory curriculum, including word processing, graphics, blogging, Powerpoint and spreadsheets, I am exploring the possibility of requiring students to take online lessons from home (or library) between weekly classes for grades five through eight. Has anyone tried this or have any ideas on this? I teach in a private school so access to the internet from home should not be a problem for most kids. I welcome your input.
My school has a formalized keyboarding class starting in 6th grade, but in my opinion, kids use technology so much that they already have their bad keyboarding habits ingrained in them by then. Our 4th grade class received an EETT grant this year and we decided we needed to address keyboarding, so we used online typing programs. We spent 10-15 minutes a day and the kids could work on them at home if they wanted. Two of our girls ended the year with 36 wpm. One is Typing Pal and the other is Dance Mat Typing (through the BBC: it's hilarious!).
Hi Crystal,
I agree with you. 6th grade is too late because they get set in their ways pretty quickly. I think 4th grade is ideal, but teachers in the lower grader need to be supportive by not requiring prior work to be typed. It seems so clear but yet people seem to have a hard time figuring out that you shouldn't assign something that hasn't been taught. Thanks for the typing program suggestions. I will definitely check them out.
Deb

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