May 23, 2012

Summer Keyboarding Class–Here are the Details

Keyboarding is one of my most-requested topics. I get lots of questions about when to start, how to do it, what makes it fun, and more. If you’re struggling with teaching keyboarding to students, check these posts out and then keep reading:

  1. How Fast Should Kids Type
  2. 18 Online Keyboard Sites for Kids
  3. Ten Best Keyboarding Hints You’ll Ever See
  4. What are Your Favorite Summer School Keyboard Activities
  5. #55: Keyboarding in the Classroom
  6. 6 Kindergarten Keyboard Basics
  7. How to Teach Keyboarding in Lower School
  8. 20 Best Keyboarding Websites
  9. Weekend Website #47: Online Keyboarding
  10. Weekend Website #21: Test Your Typing Speed
  11. #57: Yes, You Should Assign Keyboarding Homework

Every summer, I teach a keyboarding class to 3rd-6th graders. It’s fifty minutes a day, five days a week, for three weeks. To keep myself organized and make the class as student-centered as possible for a rote sort of subject, I created a Keyboarding Wiki. There, I collected what we did each day, keyboard websites, finger exercises, teaching strategies and more. This enabled those precocious souls who didn’t get enough keyboarding during the class to get more at home, though that was never required.

I start with a benchmark speed quiz to see where students were and end with one to see where they finish up. Here’s what we accomplished last summer in six weeks:

  • students increased their speed by 10%. This is better than it sounds because the first benchmark test was with uncovered keys, the final with covered
  • students knew the placement of all letter keys, as well as spacebar, enter, backspace, tab, escape, shift, ctrl and Alt
  • students developed resources to carry them through the school year when we didn’t have daily practice
  • students enjoyed keyboarding–a major victory considering the amount of memorization required

Here’s what we do:

  • Each class starts with keyboarding–Type to Learn or DanceMat Typing. I like DanceMat because it introduces keys by rows, which works with my class structure. Students also like it because of the crazy stuff the action characters do
  • Each class includes finger exercises with a discussion of the importance of each finger. This addresses the common aversion to using all fingers. We do it in a circle at the front of the class–get those kids moving! To my surprise, the students love this part of the class. By Week #2, they are leading the exercises.
  • Each class includes practice on a blank keyboard (see July 12th, toward the bottom of my wiki for an example) to promote confidence in letter key placement, also done in a circle at the front of class. The first week, we work on homerow, then the QWERTY row, then the lower row
  • After practice with our fake keyboards, students engage in some sort of knowledge check–filling out keys on the keyboard, completing a chart of which finger went to which key, speed quiz. I have lots of options and vary them daily.
  • Each class ends with keyboard practice on whichever row we are concentrating on that week. Students have the keyboard covered for this
  • Fridays, I make different. You’ll see some ideas on the wiki. After a week of keyboarding, I want them to see how it is used in environs different from straight typing (like creating a Tagxedo)
  • If there is extra time, students go to any website from the Big List of Great Kids Websites, or Google Earth
  • At the end of the three weeks, we do a Team Challenge (see Week 3, Day 5 on What We Did Today). The class breaks up into groups and answers questions from a list of keyboarding issues (see the link for my list. You can create your own covering concepts you discussed). I gave each group five seconds to answer–that’s it. That included conferring time. This meant they had to know the answers. This was great fun–one that I would like to do more often.

On the wiki, you’ll find a few resources:

Questions? Leave me a comment and I’ll answer.

Structured Learning has a Keyboarding book coming out in mid-summer. Click the image below to be notified when it is ready:


K-5 keyboarding–available mid-summer

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and three ebooks on technology in education. 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 six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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