May 12, 2011

How Fast Should Kids Type

I get this question a lot from readers and purchasers of my technology curriculum: How fast should kids type? What about Kindergartners? When are their

brains mature enough to understand speed and accuracy?

When I reviewed the literature on this subject, it is all over the place. Some say third grade, some leave it until sixth. I say–make this decision based on your own set of students. Me, I’ve come to conclusions that fit for my particular K-8 students. Their demographics include:

  • private school
  • parents support emphasis on keyboarding
  • most have computers at home; actually, most have their own computer at home
  • students are willing to practice keyboarding in class and submit homework that is oriented to keyboarding

Based on this set of students, here’s what I require:

Kindergarten

An introduction. We use Type to Learn Jr. in class. We also use Brown Bear Typing as a challenge for students, an activity that moves them into another of their choice. I focus on:

  • posture
  • hand position (hands on the keyboard)

They tolerate TTL Jr. and love Brown Bear. Often, even when they’ve achieved a score that allows them to move on, they continue. When it’s free choice time, they often select this program.

I also use a variety of games to support learning the most common keys on the keyboard–enter, spacebar, backspace, delete, etc.

First Grade

More of the kindergarten introduction, but my focus becomes:

  • posture, including general elements of
  • elbows at side
  • feet in front
  • hands on home row and their own side of keyboard

And, we move on to Type to Learn midway through the year. This I tell them is the ‘big kids’ program, one they’ll use throughout Lower and Middle School. They love that.

Second Grade

I still don’t time them, but I focus more on traits that will allow for speedy, accurate typing:

  • good posture
  • elbows at their side to force hands into the correct position
  • use thumb for space bar
  • hands on home row
  • pointers on f and j
  • use the finger closest to the key while keeping pointers on f and j

Third Grade-Fifth Grade

We now start on keyboard quizzes for speed and accuracy. We use all of the good traits they’ve acquired in K-2. I give them a five-minute typing test once a trimester. They’re graded on speed and accuracy (though I allow one minute at the end to correct spelling errors using a right-click on the red squiggly lines). As students are typing, I anecdotally notice who is using all fingers. Those that aren’t lose points.

Grading is as follows:

20% improvement: 10/10

10% improvement: 9/10

0-10% improvement: 8/10

No improvement: 7/10

Slowed down: 6/10

I post a list of keyboard speedsters in each class on the bulletin board. I also post the winning class (fastest) for all to see. Students who reach the grade level standard for speed and accuracy get a free dress pass (we are a uniform school). This is quite exciting for them:

Grade level standards are:

K-2 None

3rd Grade: 15 wpm

4th Grade: 25 wpm

5th Grade: 30 wpm

What do you use for Lower School keyboarding? I’d love to hear from you.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

 

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