We have very limited keyboarding offerings in my district. While keyboarding is touched upon in K-5 classes - it is a sporadic effort at best. In our 6th grade curriculum, keyboarding is addressed for a few weeks, but without the prolonged consistency needed to build true proficiency. As a former business education teacher, I am dismayed by the lack of emphasis on what I believe is an essential skill. Maybe I'm crazy. Does anyone else feel this way?

New Jersey

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Hi Skip,
Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, keyboarding is a nonglitzy aspect of technology that is easy to ignore.
At my school, there is NO keyboarding until they get up to the middle school (7th grade) and then, it is just part of a quarter course.
Which, you know, is just way too late and way too little.
We are working to get some software to begin with younger grades, but will admin be willing to give up some time for that? (shaking my head "no")
This is such an essential skill for so many different reasons.
In my district, keyboarding is done in third grade. I think even that's too late. My own daughter was taught keyboarding (at home, by me and Jumpstart) in first grade. And, as I've said before, she learned the keys and hand placement but became a real expert through IMing friends. It is, however, a very necessary skill. It drives me crazy when my fifth graders are slowed down simply because they don't know the keyboard. I'm glad to say this is happening less and less and the kids become more computer savvy.
Hi Lisa,
Studies have been conducted that indicate that most children are not ready to learn keyboarding until the end of 3rd grades; although girls do have better fine motor movement earlier and so may be ready sooner. That said, younger student can still be introduced to the basics to set the foundation for improved speed and accuracy when they are physically ready.
Thank you for your reply. You are right, 7th grade is way too late. By that time, students have already developed bad habits. I have found that without instructions some students are able to master a proficient keyboarding technique, but not usually the ones who need it most! The average and below average students flounders and never become truely fluent.
I tried discussing this in my school district years ago. There was a disagreement on what the appropriate age would be and a feeling that teachers were already responsible for such a huge teaching load already that it wasn't workable to add keyboarding as well. Since that time, teachers have been loaded with much more responsibility, not the least of which includes high stakes standardized testing preparation. Many school have cut recess and the arts. It would be nice, but I don't see keyboarding has much of a chance in elementary schools. At least not where I teach.
Hi Richard,
Thank you for your reply. My district has also chosen to ignore keyboarding as an essential skill. Some of the computer teachers go through the motions, but believing that you can teach keyboarding in two weeks is ridiculous. When I taught business ed. on a high school level, it took me an entire marking perod with high school students to get through all the keys. Unfortunately, because NJ has no special certification for being a computer teacher, some may have very limited keyboarding experience and so don't really value it or know how to teach it. They see it as boring and tedious. It does not produce the glitzy, attention getting projects that so many have come to expect from technology education. It is like exercise - takes time to see results. Education has become very impatient!
This paper is nearly 20 years old, but is an extremely comprehensive literature review by educational computing pioneer Steve Shuller. It tackles the real research done on elementary keyboarding, weeding out industry recommendations. It's still very relevant.

The key piece of information here is that it's very dependent on how much contact the students have with computers the rest of their day. If computers are not fulling integrated into the curriculum, then keyboarding instruction is a waste of time because there is not enough use to reinforce the skill.

The other recommendation is that teaching keyboarding replaces cursive instruction
Hi Sylvia,
My immediate response is to cringe at the thought of totally replacing cursive, but I'd have to give it a lot more open minded thought. I agree with you about integration and contact; however, in the olden days when I took keyboarding in high school, we actually had very little additional contact with the keyboard, but still managed to maintain the skill. Thank you for the paper link. I will definitely check it out.
My students (grades 5-8) are encouraged to learn fingerings, but we don't do the drill and practice once they know where the fingers go--or at least close to. I've seen my kids FLY at the hunt and peck, while my traditional-schooling side cringes. However, we all have our own shortcuts with typing and writing. Very few people print or write in cursive solely; they usually do a combination of what suits them best. So why can't our kids do this with typing.

My students all work with 1:1 laptops, and when I see them stalling with speed due to incorrect fingerings, they get some individual practice time. Most don't need it, as they get speed practice all the time. If they can type accurately and quickly, why do the drill and kill? So many don't need it at all, and they're STILL forced into the drill and kill in their tech classes in traditional schools. It can be unfair, inappropriate, and disrespectful of the students' educational needs.
Hi Ginger,
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I respect and agree with some of what you said in your post. You are right about people intuitively developing their own methodology - and if it works for them - who are we to question or put it down as being incorrect.

That said - as a former business education teacher - I still believe that keyboarding courses offered more then just proper fingering, technique, and repetitious drills. We taught kids about document format - formal business and personal letters, term paper format, memos, etc. Obviously, some of this instruction needs to be revamped; however, we are finding that kids and many adults have no idea about how to format a letter, a paper, a memo, a formal (not personal) email, etc.

I too have seen students fly using their own hunt and peck method - but I also see them hesitate and break the momentum while they locate a key. I do not have the same goals for a keyboarding student that I did 20 years ago in a typing class. That would be ridiculous. However, I do believe that the goal of fluency is still relevant. When I taught typing 20 years ago, some of the students were going onto careers as secretaries where they were just transcribing someone else’s writing. Today, most people are composing. If you can compose at 20 WPM then you need to fluently type at 20 WPM. If you are able of compose at 70 WPM, then you need to type at 70 WPM. Keyboarding should be a mindless extension - not a chore. Sometimes there are just no shortcuts.
We are focusing on keyboarding and basic productivity tools in grades 3- 5. The goals for all 5th graders to be typing at about 35 WPM. We do not have a separate technology class and all technology is taught and used within the curriculum. We chose these grades because we are focusing on grades 6-8 as the place where technology should be transparent so we can focus on critical thinking, digital literacy and global connections.



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