Learning to Type: Update

In July 2011, I blogged about the typing lessons and practice that I implemented in my Grade Two classroom. Find that post here.

On 21st July, 2011, all of my students participated in a typing test using 10fastfingers. They had to test themselves three times and then I recorded their best words-per-minute score.

Each week for the rest of the year, we completed about 30 minutes of typing practice using activities that I collated on this Sqworl.

Some of the students also used the typing games during spare time at home and school.

I tested the students using 10fastfingers again in September and at the end of the school year in December.

The results were very pleasing for five months progress, but what was most pleasing was the obvious improvement that the student bloggers showed.

9 of my 22 students earnt their own blog from June onwards and their typing progress was more rapid than the non-bloggers. I have annecdotally recorded evidence of my students who do more blogging as making more progress with typing in the past, but it is good to have some (small) data.

In 2012, I’d like to test my Grade Four students from the start of the year and monitor their process. It would be ideal to compare them with a non-blogging class too if that was possible.

I truly believe that the ability 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.

In 2012 I hope to help my students to learn to type so that they can focus more on their more important tasks – communicating, collaborating, creating, curating and so on.

How do you structure typing practice and lessons in your classroom?

Have you seen a correlation between blogging and typing improvement?

Do you have any other suggestions for typing games or tests?

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?

Overcoming Obstacles

A few days ago I was honoured to be invited on the The Virtual Staffroom podcast. Chris Betcher interviewed Linda Yollis
and me about our classroom blogging and collaboration. Click here to find the podcast or look up “The Virtual Staffroom” in iTunes.

Virtual Staffroom

One of the topics that arose on the podcast was around getting more teachers involved in classroom blogging. In my last post, I highlighted some of the benefits my students and I have gained from having a class blog. If the advantages are clear, why aren’t more teachers using blogs?

Linda Yollis and I are both passionate about encouraging others to get involved in blogging. Often the problem doesn’t lie with starting the blog but maintaining it. I would love to know the percentage of blogs that become dormant within months of starting.

There are many issues that teachers have voiced as obstacles to starting or maintaining a blog, or using technologies in their classroom. I’d like to address a few “obstacles” here with an alternative viewpoint. Please comment with any other obstacles or solutions you’ve come across.

“I already do so much, I don’t have time for something extra.”

There is no denying that blogging (or integrating technologies) takes time. It is a different way of working for many teachers who have been using the same approach for years. If you want to make blogging a part of your classroom, you need to prioritise it. That may mean sacrificing things that were priorities in the past. For Linda, that was making attractive bulletin board displays or creating “paper based” projects for students.

While you will experience a steep learning curve at the beginning, it is worth sticking with it. When you get the hang of blogging or technology integration it is not an add on, it is a seamless way of working more effectively.

“I don’t have enough computers in my classroom.”

I have five (far from new) computers in my classroom and Linda has only two computers in her classroom. It is clear that we didn’t need a 1:1 laptop program or a computer lab to make blogging work for us.

You need to be creative and find out what works for you and your class. Perhaps you could use a projector or IWB to do whole class/small group work, or partner students up and have times when they can rotate their use of the computer.

Use what you’ve got to the best of your ability and you’re off to a great start!

“I want to blog with my class but my young students can’t type.”

The way I like to think of this is, are students going to get any better at typing by not blogging? I have found blogging is a great way to authentically teach keyboarding skills and is an avenue for regular practice.

Last year I was amazed at the progress many students made with their typing through incidental lessons, drill games and regular practice.

Some students are going to take longer than others to develop their keyboarding skills but even if they produce a one sentence comment, that’s a good start. Alternatively, I sometimes get the “better typists” help other students type their thoughts if we’re short on time.

“I’m concerned about internet safety. I don’t want to compromise my students’ safety.”

Internet safety is undoubtedly an important issue. There are many ways to teach about internet safety and in my own experience, blogging has been the ideal avenue to teach my young students about this topic and appropriate online behaviours. Click here to read about how I set up rules and guidelines for my class blog. These guidelines ensure safety is a priority.

Through blogging, all my students know not to publish their surnames or reveal other personal information about themselves including passwords. They know that what they publish on the internet is forever and cannot be taken back. My students are also becoming aware of correct netiquette.

Internet safety has to be taught and I have found it is best to approach the topic when students are young. It is important that we give our students experience using online technologies in a supervised environment. Technology is not going away. Internet safety will always be an issue. We need to address it.


In summary, it is clear that if you really want to  do something you will do it. Apparent obstacles will turn into opportunities for creativity and problem solving.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Can you think of any other obstacles that prevent teachers from blogging and using technologies in their classroom?

What other solutions can you come up with?

Typing Practice

With the evolution of Web 2.0 technologies, traditional typing practice is something that has been left at the wayside a little. While most people now learn how to type but just “doing it” (typing for authentic purposes), there are some fun games on the net that you may like to use with your students to encourage them to practise their typing.

DANCEMAT TYPING

My Grade Two students enjoy this site by the BBC where you can make your way through all 12 stages to be the “top typist” while learning correct finger placements.

dancemat-typing

TYPE FOR GOLD

A simple “Olympic style” game where you need to type the letters correctly to win a running race. The faster you type the words, the faster your character runs. There is no instruction on finger placement.

type-for-gold

TYPERACER

Typeracer seems to be for the more advanced typist as it requires you to use punctuation and calculates your wpm. Sign in or continue as a guest and either practise your typing alone, race against friends or compete against other online users in a “car” typing race. The faster you type, the faster your car goes. The site provides no typing instructions for learners.

typeracer