By Teachers, For Teachers
Convincing students -- and teachers -- about the importance of keyboarding as it relates to technology in the classroom and otherwise can be daunting. Youngers find it painful (trying to find those 26 alphabet keys), and olders think their hunt-and-peck approach is just fine.
Explaining why keyboarding as it relates to technology in the classroom and otherwise is critical to all students’ long-range goals is often an exercise in futility if they haven't yet experienced it authentically, so I've resorted to showing students: Let them see for themselves why they want to become fast and accurate typists. To do this, I rely on a system they already know (or will be learning): the scientific method.
Let me stop here and point out that there are many versions of the scientific method. Use the one popular at your school. The upcoming steps easily adapt to the pedagogy your science teacher recommends.
I start with a general discussion of this well-accepted approach to decision making and problem-solving. If students have discussed it in class, I have them share their thoughts. We will use it to address the question:
I post each step on the Smartscreen or whiteboard and show students how our experiment will work.
Each student compares their results to classmates and to other grade levels. What was different? Or the same?
Every year I've done this, third graders have constructed the hypothesis and proved with their data that "Handwriting is faster than keyboarding." By fourth and fifth grade, while the hypothesis often is the same, the conclusion isn't because many of them are now familiar enough with key placement and typing skills, they type faster than they write. This is an epiphany and a motivator that learning to keyboard is worth the effort.
If you have time, students can test the same hypothesis, but this time without a prepared sheet. This time, have them type from the thoughts in their heads on a given topic, much as they might if they're writing a story or preparing a book report. Here's how that would work:
Discuss the differences. Was it easier to type or handwrite without notes? Did students who type 20 wpm and faster like typing better than slower typists? What problems did students encounter?
Another popular question: Is keyboarding on an iPad faster, the same, or slower than on a traditional keyboard? Before continuing, think what hypothesis you and fellow teachers would construct and then ask your students what they posit. Are the answers different? Now review Brady Cline’s experiment with his class here (http://www.bradycline.com/2013/in/ipad-typing/).
Overall, encouraging students to test their own hypothesis and challenge their beliefs went well beyond simply my goal of encouraging the development of typing skills. Students felt part of the process, active stakeholders in the results rather than the passive recipients of someone else's beliefs. They were much more likely to work harder at their own skills and encourage classmates to do the same.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.