OK, I know I am repeating myself, but I seriously need detailed anecdotal evidence/descriptions of successful elementary keyboarding programs - if such a thing even exists. An administrator today told me that he wants to start keyboarding in kindergarten by teaching them to recognize letters in the alphabet and relating it to letters on a keyboard. I was trained as a business ed teacher so this is a bit of a stretch for me to envision. It kind of goes against everything I learned about keyboarding being a psycho motor skill requiring consistent, repetitious practice. OK - I'm trying to be open minded - it's not 1985 - I'm not teaching keyboarding on IBM Selectric's, I'm not in charge, etc. etc. This is a subject that I have ranted about for years. I think there was a decade or two in the land of technology education where many chose to completely forget about boring old keyboarding. It seems to be making a comeback but I don't think this wasn't on my band wagon agenda. I'm not sure what I have or had in mine - any suggestions?? Positive and negative stories welcome - it's always nice and less costly to learn from others mistakes! :)

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Derwin, I will jump in with one more rant--then I think I wil have repeated myself enough in this discussion. :-)

I agree with all that you said--I will say again to the naysayers, based on teaching since dirt, elementary kids who know how to type using homerow keys produce more in writing (creative, expository, or technical)than kids who don't. I actually don't care what the research shows--I base my opinion on seeing 70 kids a week for 25 years. I also think that the longer you type hunt and peck the less chance you will ever learn to type quickly. I have 10-11 year old kids that type as fast as legal secretaries with few mistakes. They started learning keyboard in 2nd or 3rd grade. Whew--finished ranting. Happy Holidays, N
Nancy, Your response is great. It how I feel too but the naysayers do make you wonder if your nuts - especially since I have little or no contact with qualified, experienced business ed. teachers who can respond as you did - based on observation and not some model based on theory.
I teach elementary gifted kids--different grade level each day. We've noticed over the last 3-4 years (since NCLB) teachers are not taking their kids to the computer labs for keyboarding like they used to (no time). Even the biggest luddite could figure out how to get the kids on the keyboarding program and most kids were typing along by 4th or 5th grade. Since the kiddos aren't getting the contact time in the lab like they used to we are teaching kids to type in our special ed program. What goes around---15 years ago we had students with keyboard as an IEP goal!! Thought those days were over but they may be coming back. Merry Christmas, N
Nancy -

Completely agree with your observation on lab time since NCLB. Our district actually cut all elementary keyboarding about 4 years ago and JUST brought it back (to 4th grade only) this year. Resulting in.........my job! Yay. Many teachers I've encountered this year have cut way back on lab time for language arts, social studies, etc because projects took SO long with kids with no keyboarding skills. It's also my opinion that students don't learn as effectively with just a keyboarding program and no trained keyboarding teacher, but at the risk of pushing myself out of a job, it IS better than nothing.
Your school sounds like the ideal. Sounds like you have a very impressive program. Of course, there are many factors that contribute to a school's ability to offer this type of comprehensive program. American schools have many problems. I'm not an expert in the Asian education system so I won't attempt to make a comparison. I do believe that many of our shortcomings in education are related to our cultural beliefs. 60% of the students in my district are Asian. They are more likely to be highly pressured by family to succeed then our non-Asian students. I'm not saying this is bad. In many ways, we have diluted our system with programs such as NCLB. The Asians will be ahead of us educationally not because they have computers in Kindergarten but because of their cultural acceptance that not every child is equal and should receive the same exact training.
Love BBC's DanceMat typing - it's the reward in my keyboarding class for students who are ahead in Bernie's Typing Travels - students are also using it at home since Bernie's isn't available for them there. I send out letters to parents 3 times in my 25 days with 4th graders with tips for practicing at home and reminding parents that students can also use the computers at the public library to access the online typing activities linked from my blog www.mrsolson.edublogs.org. The goal for my students is for all effort when working on a computer to be focused elsewhere than finding keys - this is only achieved through the proper learning of touch-typing. Check out the comments on my post "Why Should We Bother".
Hi Deb,

First, please let me share with you that I "get it." I am also a licensed business teacher and understand full-well that keyboarding is much more akin to developing psycho motor than academic. This said, I have come to believe that while this is the case, traditional instructional methodologies are not the only, or best, means of building fluency.

Additionally, as the parent of two preschool age children (I never thought I'd 'understand teaching and learning of students this young), I have to agree with your principal about this being a great way for students to recognize letters. At first blush, I thought they'd be confused and have been proven otherwise by my children that they can recognize the letters on the computer keyboard and correlate them to both upper and lowercase text on screen. They also can type their names, navigate windows, scroll and use the touch-pad (all very well).

I remember sitting in my high school teaching class as a student and believing 100% that my typing teacher had no life if she could tell the difference between one space and two. Alas, I've grown.

On a somewhat related note, I believe that a business teacher you are in a unique position to lead your colleagues in introducing, using and embracing web technologies:

PowerPoint in the English classroom? Great!
Math teachers don't know how to use Excel? Teach 'em.

It's your time to shine as a teacher-leader modeling 21st century skills and best practices. Love live the business (and typing) teacher.

Best regards,

National Board Certified Teacher in Business Education
Thank you Ellen. Your response is very helpful and welcome. I thought all business teachers had been banished - at least they are in New Jersey. I am impressed and heartened by your children's reaction. I initially did think it was a nutty idea, but your description gives me something to think about. I don't want to be "stuck" in that old fashioned business ed. mode; however, I do think that for a long time - technology education has just blown over these skills. It drives me crazy when people talk about keyboarding skills being a waste of time. I see so many kids and adults who are frustrated with technology and one of the most common factors is lack of keyboarding skills. Yes, there are students who can compensate. These kids probably also taught themselves how to read, draw, etc. - but the majority cannot and there is another minority of slower learners who would cannot adjust at all and end up hating technology.
All bus ed teachers banished?!?!
Because of NCLB, many schools in New Jersey have gotten rid of programs such as Business Ed, Home Ec. and traditional Industrial Arts. I know these programs still exist in other parts of the country but because of the public school cutbacks, many of the NJ teacher colleges no longer offer these degree programs.
It doesn't make any sense to teach keyboarding to kindergarteners.

Keyboarding is for writing words. I don't know what the vocabulary level is of these kindergarteners, but I would bet that it isn't large enough to require keyboard interaction.

I have done a great deal of work with keyboarding. I run the Keyboarding Research (http://www.keyboardingresearch.org) website. i wrote the book Keyboarding Made Simple http://tinyurl.com/2738j6

Some educators believe that keyboarding is an indicator of an advanced technology program. We should not teach keyboarding unless there is a reason. I believe that it should be taught in third grade (second grade earliest). Kindergarteners need to spend time learning how to write with pencils and draw with crayons and play outside.

I agree with the other person who said that keyboarding is only useful if it is commonly used in the classroom or at home. Teaching keyboarding every Friday for 30 minutes doesn't make any sense either. Not enough is accomplished. It would be best if keyboarding was introduced in the classroom and then students used it in their classroom writing and at home.

What do you think?
I think you are absolutely on the money.



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