Posted on : 14-07-2011 | By : rmmadden | In : Uncategorized
As someone who believes in a constructivist account of learning, I want kids to experience typing as authentically as possible which means avoiding the repetitive, dull exercises I was subjected to my senior year in high school. This is not to say that there aren’t some wonderful typing tutors online. In fact, many of them are fun and based around real words instead of nonsensical strings of letters and I’ve linked to several on this site. While I’m not a huge fan of isolating skills like that, the beauty of isolated exercises is they don’t overwhelm kids the way having to type two or more pages of hand-written text can. But at the end of the day, with technologies like Swype and greatly improved Speech to Text algorithms, I have to wonder how much longer keyboarding as we think of it will be around.
With all of this in mind, I’ve come up with the following list of ways to incorporate typing in ways that are more authentic than repetitive exercises for my elementary studetns. My goal with these activities is to make students familiar with the keyboard layout to the point where there is less hunting and more pecking while not overwhelming them with walls of text that take up the whole class period.
1. Type progressively longer responses (one word up to two or three sentences) to questions on a classroom blog.
2. Type responses into open-ended survey questions in a Google Form I’ve created for the class.
3. Type captions to accompany pictures in a slideshow on a project they’re working on in their regular classroom.
4. Type dialogue for a comic strip
5. Create a Google doc so kids can collaborate with another class as pen pals.
6. Hold a class “caption contest” for a funny picture
7. Have kids bring short sentences to class to type and then play with the font/color/size settings
8. Type spelling words to create a Wordle (might be interesting to have them make their most difficult word the biggest for extra practice)
9. Create a greeting card
10. Create and type an invitation to a school event.
I’d like for the first 5-10 minutes of each 45 minute session to be dedicated to typing. Some of the above ideas would fit that bill quite well. Others can be woven into other class projects. The real point, though, is that while none of these are your typical typing exercises they still work to make the kids familiar with the keyboard layout without overwhelming them (not to mention that many of them are working other computer and digital citizenship skills as well).
Please feel free to steal any of the above ideas and DEFINITELY feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below.