Learning to Type

Over the years, the need for my students to be able to type has become increasingly important.

Being able to type with reasonable speed and accuracy helps students to better cope with the technological world they live in. Students are increasingly going to be held back in their school work, everyday life and future career if they don’t have adequate typing skills.

Of course, we still write with pencil and paper daily in our grade two class and have formal handwriting lesson,s but I find typing lessons and practice is often neglected in the primary curriculum.

Throughout the course of each year, I see a big improvement in students’ typing skills just from the regular practice they have with blogging, however we try to do typing practice where we can. This has become easier with the 20 netbooks and 10 classroom computers we now have in our class of 43 students. Typing practice is now a regular activity in 2KM and 2KJ.

Typing Test

Last week, I had the students take a typing test.

Thanks to @rebeccacarr87 for suggesting 10 Fast Fingers Speed Test which, despite the ads, was perfect for my grade two students. It contained high frequency words and no punctuation. It also gives a simple “words per minute” (wpm) score.

typing2

I wrote the students’ best wpm score on a class list and told them we’ll retest again with the goal of improving by the end of the year. The score range was 4 to 21 with an average score of 9.5 wpm. It will be interesting to see how they improve. I only wish I had thought to test them at the beginning of the year!

Teachers of older students might find this Typing Speed Test more useful as it contains more complex paragraphs including punctuation. This test gives a speed and accuracy score.

Typing1

Online Typing Activities

I have put together a collection of free, online typing games for my students into this Sqworl.

The link is http://sqworl.com/9r5u8p

Typing sqworl

Feel free to use it with your students too!

Lessons Vs Practice

I like to give my students a mix of formal tuition in typing as well as practice time.

How people get to the point of being able to touch type is something that interests me. I learnt “by doing” while my colleague, Kelly Jordan learnt through formal lessons, however we both got to the same place as proficient touch typists.

If you consider yourself a touch typist, I am interested to hear how you learnt to type. Did you learn by doing or did you learn through formal touch typing lessons?  Please complete this quick poll!


How do you approach typing lessons and practice with your students?


Do you know of any other good typing websites?

24 thoughts on “Learning to Type

  1. Hi Kath,

    Thank you so much for the Sqworl you created of free online typing activities. I had just this very day searched my Delicious bookmarks for typing games/tutors etc for 4 students I support in my role as a visiting teacher who works with students with physical impairment. Some of those you listed I did not have bookmarked. I agree, such an important skill for our digital natives and even more important for students who need alternative access to handwriting.
    Cheers
    Marilyn Raggett

    • @ Marilyn,

      I’m glad that this post was timely for you. It is funny how things like that happen!

      I too have had some students who need some alternatives to handwriting due to their various conditions. Being able to type may be even more important for them.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Kath

  2. @ Kathleen,

    Great post, people will enjoy those typing games you’ve included in the Sqworl. Our students were so engaged during the typing lessons and I think it’ll be great for their confidence to see improvements through their “typing test” results as the year progresses.

    As you mentioned in your post, I had formal lessons where I initially learnt to touch type. Just to give some more information about that, I did Keyboarding as an elective subject in Year 9 or 10. (I’m not sure if many high schools offered that subject?!) Each week we’d learn different typing skills (eg. the home row, how to just move your fingers above and below etc). We’d have to complete a test and calculate our accuracy and speed and report these results to our teacher. I loved those Keyboarding lessons and they really set me up to be a proficient typist!

    Kelly

    • @ Kelly,

      Thanks for your comment. I think the Sqworl will work well – it is easier for the kids (and teachers) to have all the sites in one place. And I can add to it over time if need be.

      It sounds like your keyboarding lessons were successful because they were ongoing and progressive. I remember having a small number of fairly sporadic keyboarding lessons at school which, needless to say, weren’t overly effective. It’s something we need to think about with our students I guess. If we’re not dedicating time every week to progressive typing tuition and practice it’s probably not going to be as effective as we’d like.

      I’m looking forward to retesting our kids later in the year!

      Kath

  3. Thanks for the great resources. As I gear up for the new year, these will be very helpful with my tech planning. It is funny, I am self taught and ever since I began learning, I would type in my head to put me asleep when I was stuck awake thinking of something else. I have never shared that with anyone and think it is rather odd, but I think that has helped me to learn as well.

    • @ Rorey,

      That is a funny story! Typing amazes me really. The fact that you have the muscle memory to turn your thoughts into words on a screen – our brains and bodies are fascinating!

      I’m glad the sites will be helpful,

      Kathleen

  4. Hi Kath

    Such a timely post for me as I wandered the computer lab today and watched my kids type in a comment to a blog. From my experience it’s very frustrating watching the students type, but I soon realise they are 8 yrs old and doing the best they can. I wonder how I can fit this practice in with limited resourcing at my school, to continue building their typing skills. You continue to amaze and inspire me with what you do in your classroom, I can only hope to achieve similar things in my classroom.

    As for my experience. I learnt by doing, doing a lot of assignments in uni and now a lot of typing at school. Touch typing is a very valuable skill to have in a school as everything seems to go quick flash and there is no time for slow typing.

    Thank you again for your great post. I always look forward to your insights!

    Jarryd Heywood – @Mr_Hey_J – Canberra!

    • @ Jarryd,

      Nice to hear from you. Yep, it is incredibly frustrating to see the way young students type which made me think I need to do something about it!

      Interesting to hear that you learnt by doing too. By the looks of the poll, we’re not alone!

      The formal tuition in our classroom is just teaching the students about where they position their fingers, how the position their bodies etc. And we use programs like Dance Mat Typing which teach the kids finger placement step-by-step as opposed to many of the other sites on the Sqworl which are simply practice. We’re trying to allocate an hour a week to typing lessons/practice now.

      Kath

  5. Hi Kathleen,
    I’ve missed reading your blog with life being busy as usual but this was a great post for me to come back to. I’ve been thinking about this lots recently as I try to encourage my kids to work more on the school computers. I think a lot of people often give up with kids in Year 1 or 2 because they’re so slow on the keyboard or from what I’ve seen teachers/parents try to take over and do it for them which misses the point of them learning to do it and get better. So, despite the sometimes snail pace, I’ve continued and they’ve definitely got better but what I lack in my programme is giving them time to actually practise the typing skills. Again, it’s a time thing but it’s also a must, so next term I endeavour to do better. Thanks for the typing test link, that will definitely be useful for the kids to measure their progress.

    In terms of my own learning. I found things quite hard at school and some time in secondary school my parents agreed to get me a computer to support my learning in the hope that I wouldn’t find it so hard. Bear in mind this was some time ago so it’s helping capacity was limited and there was no internet at first but it was very useful none the less. Anyway, the condition of getting it was that I learn to touch type. My mum gave me this huge folder of typed notes that was a self-teach programme that I had to laboriously wade through. It wasn’t all that fun but it certainly taught me to type very well so I’m grateful for it. I later started using Mavis Beacon teaches typing (I think that’s what it was called) which was a bit more interactive and fun.

    Thanks for the post and the numerous resources you provided with it.

    Sarah

    • @ Sarah,

      Nice to hear from you. Yep, I know how busy life can be!

      You’re right that seem people give up a bit with young students but as we both know, it is worth persevering!

      What an interesting story about learning to touch type.

      By the way. I am presenting at RSCON in Elluminate on the weekend about collaborating with global blogging buddies. I am mentioning the postcard project too. You can read about it here if you’re interested in coming along!

      Kath

  6. Thanks for putting together those resources. Its always a bit hard as time with the computer is precious but at the same time typing is so important! I used to use 2 Simple To Type, which is a great program (its not free), because the kids get scores and you can generally see where each student is. The BBC Dance Mat is a great one as well which I’ve used often. When I used to teach IT as a subject, I would begin each lesson with 5 minutes of typing practice. I’ve also found that if you write on their HW to “Practice typing” the kids will do it at home. They also respond really well to having a short competition on a Friday, or whatever day works well. When I learned how to type it was in 9th grade and my teacher had these wooden things that she put on top of our keyboards so we couldn’t look. They were actually pretty effective!

    • @ Heather,

      I have heard of 2 Simple to Type and it’s good to hear that it is a worthwhile program if people are looking to purchase something.

      I think your idea of doing 5 minutes of typing practice at the start of your IT lessons is fabulous. I am going to pass that idea onto the specialist IT teachers at my school. The competition sounds like fun!

      I might use your homework idea too!

      I wonder if there are still keyboarding lessons in high schools and if they use those things to cover up the keyboard! You’re right, it was probably pretty effective!

      Thanks for your comment,
      Kath

  7. hi kathleen. i learned to touch type in formal lessons at high school (back in the old days, when my term papers were typed on an old upright the librarian had – with footnotes!) but i didn’t get “good” at it until i just “did” it – through use. i type 100 wpm accurately, and enjoy having contests with my (high school) students. all of them are active online, but few of them are more than 2 finger typists. i encourage them to use fun, online ways to improve their typing, because they *are* going to need it! good on you for providing access to programmes for your students.
    cheers,
    kelly

    • @ Kelly,

      That’s interesting to note that even if you lessons, you still need a lot of practice to get good at it.

      Your comps with your students sound like fun and you’re right, they are going to need to know how to type!

      Thanks for your comment,
      Kathleen

  8. Hi Kathleen,
    I failed miserably at learning to type through formal lessons on electric typewriters (proving I am way too old) where the teacher insisted on putting covers over hands so we couldn’t cheat by looking.

    When I got access to a word-processor, I decided I needed to learn to type. So I used Mavis Beacon teaches typing when I was about 15 and now have a typing speed of about 75wpm. What I liked about that programme is started off with just a basic 1 hand then 1 row before becoming more complex. There were also easy games to play so perhaps I learned to type through gaming?

    Stephanie

    • @ Steph,

      Sarah Leakey commented above about the Mavis Beacon program so it must be a winner!

      Thanks for sharing your typing experiences. Always great to hear from you!

      Kath

  9. Hi Kathleen,
    Thanks for these great sites. While I’m not a big fan of formal typing lessons (despite having learnt to type with them on a manual typewriter), I like the idea of games helping the children’s speed along. I’m thinking I’ll get my students to use them for just 10 mins or so at the start of a session on the laptops. I’ve added the sqworl as a link on my class websit.
    Thanks also for introducing me to sqworl! I haven’t seen that before.
    Cheers,
    Cathy

    • @ Cathy,

      I feel the same way about formal typing lessons because I didn’t learn to type that way. However, for some people that seems to have worked well. It’s hard to please everyone but I like the idea of teaching the students basics of finger placement and posture while providing plenty of typing practice that is fun (ie. the online games).

      Sqworl is such a handy tool and it only took a few minutes to set that up! It’s a shame it has ads but you can pay $4/month to go ad-free (I wouldn’t bother of course – I like free!)

      I’m sure 10mins of typing at the start of lessons will work really well for your students!

      Thanks for your comment,

      Kath

    • @ Whitney, unfortunately, I don’t think we’re at school when your students are at school. We’re GMT+10. Thanks for the offer! 🙂

  10. Pingback: Touch Typing « Teach Tech Ed

  11. Hi Kath, Do you know whether keyboarding and touch-typing is ever offered as part of the curriculum? Have the powers that be ever considered having all primary school children educated in touch-typing, to help them out in school and later in life?

    • Hi Rosemary,

      Not that I am aware of but you may want to double check the new Australian Curriculum.

      Cheers,
      Kath

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