Dec 07 2017

4 Tips to Instill Basic Keyboarding Habits in Young Learners

Educators help students become better at typing with these best practices.

K–12 digital natives might seem like they were born with smartphones in their hands, but educators shouldn’t skimp on keyboarding lessons.

With more standardized tests being delivered digitally, elementary school technology teacher Bethany Nill writes on eSchool News that it is more important than ever that students know how to type.

“Today’s students are expected to have some typing proficiency as early as kindergarten,” writes Nill. “For example, our students must be able to, at minimum, type their first and last name in order to access their devices and accounts.”

From writing prompts to games, educators have a lot of ideas on how to instill good keyboarding habits.

1. Start Keyboarding Lessons Early with Games

Nill writes on eSchool News that teaching keyboarding skills to kindergarteners might be particularly difficult because many of them don’t even know their letters yet.

Using the game-based platform called TypeTastic, Nill said she starts with games that let students strengthen their mouse skills and then gradually introduces them to the keyboard.

“The games aren’t timed, which gives my little ones the time they need to locate keys and not feel rushed to ‘pound the keyboard,’” she writes.

2. Try Unplugged Typing Lessons

Since typing requires muscle memory and the regular use of hands and fingers, some educators suggest going unplugged for beginner lessons.

K–8 technology teacher Jacqui Murray writes on TeachHUB that doing finger exercises several times a month helps promote the dexterity needed for typing. Exercises focus on moving each finger one at a time, the same way that students would type.

3. Lead by Example with a Document Camera

To introduce students to the keyboard, Jamie Mancuso-Dulak, an instructional technology teacher at Grand Island Central School District in N.Y., suggests that teachers use a document camera pointed at their own keyboard.

On her school website, Mancuso-Dulak recommends that educators first discuss the layout of the keyboard row by row before beginning to press keys in unison. The document camera can also be used to show students the mouse.

4. Gamify Further with Keyboarding Competitions

Once students are familiar with the basics concepts of keyboarding, competitions and challenges are a great way to make the repetitive practice fun.

Mancuso-Dulak suggests that educators lay a piece of cloth over students’ hands so they can’t see the keyboard while typing. Murray finds that having students compete against themselves in grade-level keyboarding skills, such as speed, is a great way to gamify the process.

She also recommends splitting into groups to compete over knowledge of the skills and protocols or competing against another classroom to see who is fastest or most accurate.

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