Teaching Keyboarding in Grades 3-8
Teaching children computer skills is an essential in today's technological world. Use these tips to teach young students how to type and use a keyboard.
When implementing a 'keyboarding' instruction component, focus on these five objectives for your students:
1. Eyes on the Screen
This is advice that has changed over the years - it used to be 'eyes on the paper copy' - now it's 'eyes on the screen!' With modern typing software, students are typically no longer copying from paper. I tell the students that 'looking at the keyboard while you're typing is like looking at your pedals with you're riding your bike!' They will type faster in the beginning if they look at the keyboard, but it will hurt their speed in the long run.
2. Posture/Sitting up Straight
Proper posture will help keep their hands in the correct position on the keyboard, and will also help their concentration. It's important that students are sitting up straight with the keyboard directly in front of them. This decreases errors also. (While I was typing this, I was sitting cross-legged on my chair, and made several mistakes. I'm sitting up straight now, and things are going much better!)
3. Quiet and Concentrating
It isn't always easy, but if you keep your keyboarding instruction to a few minutes a day (not more than 10 minutes at a time) you should be able to enforce the 'no talking' rule pretty easily.
4. Fingers on the Home Row
Instruct the students to 'feel around' on the keyboard for the f and the j keys - they have the little bumps on them for a reason. Remind students that whatever key they type, their fingers should return to this home position. Ideally, if you are using software that allows for gradual increase in skills, focus on the home row first, and then continue to add other keys two or three at a time.
5. Using Time Wisely
Some students like to really take their time getting the program started, take lots of stretch breaks, ask to go to the bathroom - anything to get out of typing! Incorporating their time use as part of their grade will hold them accountable.
When grading students, it's a good idea to grade 1-3 students per day - but don't tell them who you are grading! This keeps the atmosphere more businesslike, with a student not being aware if 'today is their day!' I use a five-point scale, and take away a point from each section when I see the students break a rule. That way, they get feedback right away.
It's best to create a form that you can copy, with the grading scale right on it. Then you don't need to compute the grade each time. Remind the students that you will be grading them multiple times, and that they can always focus on improving a skill they have scored low on for next time.