Students use keyboards at an early age and should learn and reinforce appropriate keyboarding techniques during the elementary grade years, before poor habits have formed that are difficult to reteach. Students who have become somewhat proficient with their own keyboarding habits are often reluctant to learn new keyboarding techniques, even when those techniques will ultimately increase typing speed and accuracy. Waiting until high school to introduce keyboarding skills is inadequate and simply too late for today's students.
The foremost goal of keyboarding instruction should be technique and accuracy, with technique being first priority. As these skills are mastered, speed will develop simultaneously.
There is ongoing debate over the proper grade level at which students should begin keyboarding. A writing team that met in Spring 2005 placed the introduction of letters in the Second Grade year. Part of the rationale for this decision is the overall readiness of the students coupled with the heavier testing demand of the third grade year. If one is uncomfortable with the introduction of these skills early in the second grade year, consider postponing the skills introduction until the last grading period.
Other schools structures may lend themselves to more deliberate and focused emphasis at a single grade level later in elementary school such as fourth or fifth grade. It is helpful to remember that later acquisition of keyboard skills will result in a greater need for unlearning bad habits and missed opportunities to efficiently use text entry based publishing applications.
The lesson plans included in this resource kit are intended to serve as examples of how one might address keyboarding related indicators as outlined in the Academic Content Standards for Technology. They do not represent a complete curriculum for keyboarding instruction.
A “Tips and Resources” section has been included to model what others have learned through experience, as well as guiding the user toward additional resources.
Most keyboarding curricula agree that a series of short (15-25 minutes) daily lessons over a period of 6-8 weeks is the most effective manner of introducing and practicing keyboarding skills. This practice is most important while the skills are being introduced and practiced and becomes less so as the students gain greater levels of proficiency.
As the students become more proficient, it is important that students have multiple - possibly weekly - opportunities to exercise their keyboarding skills either through practice or application, and that during those exercises the teacher observes and reinforces proper posture and technique.
Though the students may demonstrate excellent keyboarding technique during practice exercises, they may not naturally transfer these skills to word processing and other composition exercises. Consider the use of a few light composition exercises coupled with stringent technique guidance to facilitate the transfer of skills.
Sample 2nd Grade Lessons
A frequently asked question when establishing a keyboarding program is what software is recommended for use with students. Unfortunately, in many cases, software has become synonymous with keyboarding instructor. It is important to understanding that software is to keyboarding what worksheets are to math instruction. Keyboarding software provides guided practice - important practice - to students. Active instruction and supervision are necessary to the development of good keyboarding habits.
One of the more comprehensive lists of keyboarding criteria is available from the Utah State Office of Education Website, http://www.usoe.k12.ut.us/ate/keyboarding/Software/criteria.htm. This is an extensive list and you will find some that some of the criteria are more significant to your instructional setting than others. Keep in mind that software that doesn't meet the instructional needs of your teaching team will ultimately not be used to its fullest capacity. This is a great list of considerations for choosing software that will meet your students' needs.
The Writer ( http://www.writerlearning.com ) - Self-contained keyboarding units, priced at approximately $6,000 for a set of 30, including software, cloth cases, batteries and a mobile storage cart. Some of the strengths of these units are their usability, finger path guides on the keys, homerow reinforcment and sequencing. This unit also doubles nicely for word processing. The greatest disadvantage is the cost, however, districts faced with limited or no computer lab space might find these units a reasonable alternative to ease demands place on existing computers for keyboarding and word processing tasks. The one-way IR interface to transfer text is simple and requires no extra software.
MavisBeacon Teaches Typing ( http://www.mavisbeacon.com )
All the Right Type ( http://ingenuityworks.com )
UltraKey 5.0 ( http://bytesoflearning.com )
User input is encouraged to better complete this list.
Dance Mat Typing - Excellent typing practice
How To Be Comfortable at Your Workstation from Cergos, Computer Ergonomics for Elementary School Students, printable ergonomics poster
Keyboarding Chart - 11x17 Printable Keyboard
Technique Checklist A helpful list of considerations to note when observing student keyboarding
Sample Checklist - This checklist may provide some elements that will be useful in developing a checklist that is better tailored to your setting.
Keyboarding - Shelbyville Central Schools A handy collection of keyboarding resources from across the Web
Keyboarding Resources - Find keyboarding resources from the Texas Technology Applications Center for Educator Development
Utah State Office of Education, K-12 Keyboarding excellent resources, including software evaluation criteria (site is growing outdated)
Ohio Academic Content Standards for Technology - A little light reading for more information
Keyboarding Related Indicators - Indicators from the Ohio Academic Content Standards for Technology directly addressing keyboarding skills
For additional support on keyboarding instruction, contact Chad Lemon at the ESC office or at tesc_lemon (at) tccsa (dot) net.
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