How I Tried to Make Keyboarding Fun-or at Least Bearable!
Generally, teaching in the computer lab is a pretty good position. The students are motivated and eager to see the lesson that is planned for them. Learning to create a power point presentation, designing a graph in Excel, or completing a webquest are all lessons that will get a gratifying reaction from most students. But mention keyboarding......instant change. So, I decided that I would try to find a way to turn the whole situation around. I'll spare you the false starts and total failures and share with you an approach that seemed to get more of the reaction we would all prefer to see in our students for any lesson. My classes included Kindergarten through 8th grade. I decided that I would begin some form of keyboarding right from the start. After some initial lessons on the actual keyboard and mouse, I introduced them to Kid Keys. They all seemed to get a kick out of it. It's a very colorful and charming program with a number of components. For the next level, I had a Type to Learn Program and later added a second one. In addition to the software I had a monthly lesson with the older students that involved them typing a selection I handed out to them. They typed in Microsoft Word and it was timed. They were able to pull up the word count as well as the number of mistakes. I showed them how to compute their words per minute and they recorded their progress. During these lessons they typed the selection three times as I timed them. The second time they typed they had to shut off the monitor. This was to give them a chance to see how they performed using more of a touch approach. They would groan but give it a try. Of course their speed increased and surprisingly as time passed, their accuracy did not suffer as expected. The third trial they chose how they wanted to type-with or without the monitor. Most chose to keep the monitor off. Now, here is what I think really helped make the whole thing work. They practiced their keyboarding every class period, BUT, for only 10 minutes. To show my classes I meant business, once everyone was in the program and typing, I set a timer for ten minutes. Once the timer went off we went on to a lesson that they would normally look forward to. But what changed for me was the absence of groans and faces when I mentioned keyboarding. I also added a number of fun online keyboarding games and sometimes would assign these as alternatives to the program. Variety did seem to help. One day after school, I was working in the lab. A young woman came in to visit-a past student now attending high school. She had come back to tell me how well she did in her high school computer class. She thanked me for the keyboarding lessons, explaining that she was so much faster than many in her class. She told me she appreciated how I had made it fun. I thought, mission accomplished!
If you're looking for some fun lab activities, here's one my classes always enjoyed.