In 2002, I spent my grad research hours working on the topic of keyboarding instruction.  At the time, my elementary school was redesigning the technology curriculum.  One change was to move the introduction of keyboarding instruction to 3rd grade. 

Prior to 2002, our media specialist taught keyboarding basics to kindergarten students:  walking on a LARGE keyboard mat, locating home row, and simple word processing tasks.  Students in 1st and 2nd grades were exposed to keyboarding activities and used some online activities weekly.  By the time students completed 3rd grade, students’ typing skills were, generally, proficient enough to key-in short paragraphs, print and save documents.   This made 4th Grade projects a breeze when keyboarding was involved.  These students could work on a variety of projects without much keyboarding instruction. 

In the last 5 years I’ve witnessed a decline in the proficiency of typing skills at the 4th grade level.  I believe this is a valuable skill and should continue to be taught in the middle elementary years.   I wonder what the views are of others in education with regards to the age in which formal keyboarding should be taught.   Who should be the keyboarding instructor in a school district?  Classroom teacher?  Business teacher?  Librarian?

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Back in '86, when I began working at the computer teacher at a local school (think: Commodore 64's running programs stored on cassette tapes), I wrote a keyboarding program, and introduced the home row in 2nd grade and formal keyboarding in 3rd. Proficiency required was 5 wpm at the third grade level, increasing by 5 wpm each year. Oh, the moans from students, as didn't I know that voice recognition would be the future and keyboarding would be obsolete? I agrreed, but told them that until the time came when keyboarding would be obsolete, they would learn to be proficient typists and would later thank me, lol. Fast forward too many years and the routine is still the same. How can you backchannel with a class, or work on editing skills, or anything else that might involve a group and not teach keyboarding? Waiting for kids who hunt-and-peck frustrates everyone involved. I do individualize requirements, based upon fine motor skills, learning disabilities, etc., but I rarely compromise on the speed aspect. The result? By 8th grade most are keyboarding correctly at 50+ wpm, and find that they can whip out assignments more quickly than their peers who were not required to learn this skill.  I have noticed that trying to teach keyboarding before 2nd grade is frustrating to students. Most have neither the fine motor skills nor the reach (hand size) to do more than the home row, and even that can be problematic for many. So I do work on keyboard layout, and the functions of the various keys prior to that point, so that the keyboard and key locations are familiar when we start keyboarding. And yes, I do require typing without looking at one's hands. And many do come back, after graduation, to grudgingly admit I was right.
I appreciate your stance on this topic.  Support for formal keyboarding in the middle elementary grades produces proficiency as they move through school.  I have two daughters with a three-year age difference that experienced two different sets of keyboarding instruction.  Now that they are in Jr.Hi and HS, I am a witness to the frustration of the junior higher as she hunts and pecks! Thank you.

It is nice to see someone wanting to teach typing in the middle elementary grades. I have been working as a technology teacher at various levels for the last 11 years. I have done that last 10 years at the middle school and been teaching typing at the 6th grade. I get the same moans that Nancy talks about but I try to make it more of an add on curriculum to comptuer basics and network safety.  When I am confronted with the excuse of voice recognition I usually pull out my phone or turn on voice recognition on the computer and how them how accurate it is vs touch typing. We then discuss how long they have been working on mastering it. I also talk about how learning to type is a safety/health issue which usually interests most of the students. I find that most of my students have been exposed to typing but not with any sort of consistently and most of them prefer to hunt and peck or what I call the 3 finger shuffle. I also find that they can touch type as long as it is being graded but after we move on they move back to old habits. I also get my teachers complaining how kids can't type and why I am not teaching them. When I show them that I am and suggest they may want to add it to their lesson grade they say that they don't do have time to teach that, which is a frustration. I also get the same excuse when I talk with our elementary teachers that they don't have time to include typing.

What I find works best for instrustion at the middle school level is to intermix the reason for typing, with some instruction, and then let them practice though the use of free typing games. I find that the games are a great motivator and a great way for them to practice without really knowing it.

Exactly, John!  And once they spend time chatting on Facebook, most of my students tell me that keyboarding correctly makes a huge difference to them! Since we can't adjust the height of chairs or desks in our lab, anyone my height or shorter MUST double their chairs (stack 2 together) to prevent injury. We discuss ergonomics and repetitive stress injury, too...  in fact, they get two grades each class from me: one is the accuracy of their keyboarding, and the other is their technique/ behavior.  The amusing thing is that after we finish formal keyboarding, they want me to use a form of the technique grade in other projects, as well... and I do require correct keyboarding for all work done in the lab... even if they visit with another teacher. My well-worn mantra is a minimum of 5 minutes of practice daily can/will make all the difference! With all I have to cover in the lab, my teachers think I should teach, besides searching/ 'net safety (which I do, willingly) everything involved with research. Why do people think that print materials are obsolete? And why do they not think that writing a paper is a topic that is the domain of language arts? I just don't have time to take kids to the library to learn how to use print or CD reference materials. 

I am a computer teacher at a K-5 school and I begin teaching keyboard starting with the kindergarteners. In fact I work in keyboarding all through K and 1st so that by the end of 1st grade students can comfortably use the keyboard to write many short letters and add clipart. Grades 2 - 5 will practice typing as well, but it is only about  1/6 of the total variety of skills we will learn in those grades.

 

Typing for this generation means they will likely type differently depending what the device is, be it a cell phone, tablet or computer.

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