OK, I know I am repeating myself, but I seriously need detailed anecdotal evidence/descriptions of successful elementary keyboarding programs - if such a thing even exists. An administrator today told me that he wants to start keyboarding in kindergarten by teaching them to recognize letters in the alphabet and relating it to letters on a keyboard. I was trained as a business ed teacher so this is a bit of a stretch for me to envision. It kind of goes against everything I learned about keyboarding being a psycho motor skill requiring consistent, repetitious practice. OK - I'm trying to be open minded - it's not 1985 - I'm not teaching keyboarding on IBM Selectric's, I'm not in charge, etc. etc. This is a subject that I have ranted about for years. I think there was a decade or two in the land of technology education where many chose to completely forget about boring old keyboarding. It seems to be making a comeback but I don't think this wasn't on my band wagon agenda. I'm not sure what I have or had in mine - any suggestions?? Positive and negative stories welcome - it's always nice and less costly to learn from others mistakes! :)
Deb

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I know nothing about keyboarding other than my own opinions. Do it fast and the sooner the better. If "homerow key typing" (or whatever it's called) isn't entrenched by 4th or 5th grade--hunt and peck will take over. We actually had the best typists in the early days of computer labs--teachers didn't know what to do with kids so they had them practice keyboarding. NCLB has really affected kids ability to type correctly--since teachers in our district don't have time to take the kids to the lab we are seeing fewer and fewer good typists. (they are fast but can't type from copy) I teach in an elementary gifted program K-6 and see the same kids year after year. Finished whining.
Hi Nancy,
I think that was a well stated and accurate observation. I know that many people don't consider keyboarding important but the problem isn't just typing from copy. The biggest problem is a matter of fluency. How can you be a fluent writer when you are hunting and pecking?? Thank you for your reply. Deb
Agree---big problem with gifted kids. Their minds are so jumbled as it is!
Hi, Nancy. Just showing people how this nested dialog works. You're the best.

Steve
there's some research that says that keyboarding does nothing (except waste time and bore kids) unless the kids actually have a LOT of real access to computers (practically a 1:1 situation). I think i posted it here a while back but can't find it now...

I think it's a case of use it or lose it. it's not like you can "expose" 5 year olds to the violin and expect them to maintain it if they only touch a violin once a month for 45 minutes...

and Nancy - do kids really need to type from copy? Not a real world skill or a school skill... what is it good for?
If they are not cutting and pasting from the internet they may need to be able to type information from books or handwritten notes. I agree they have to have access to computers--my students blog, create wikis, write stories, do research, do online book discussions, (using Moodle), do webpages, The kids that can type well are much better communicators in writing than the hunt and peckers. The kids that can't type give up--we never see in print what they have to say. Keyboarding is a skill--like handwriting. Kids that do it well produce more in writing. Yes, I know they can do podcasts, videos, etc but eventually an intelligent person needs to be able to express themselves in writing.
nancy, I'm glad you agree that having access to computers is the "key" to keyboarding being worth doing. :-)

and I agree that keyboarding is a skill like handwriting. However, there is also a lot of fuss made over kids' handwriting that prevents writing. I worry that if keyboarding becomes a similar hurdle, it might backfire. I'm sure you've seen the studies and articles about how telling kids that they aren't writing "correctly" is often misinterpreted by our ever-literal kiddies that they are bad at writing. the teacher is talking about mechanics and the student is hearing a personal defect.

Deb, I think the question is a two parter - 1. is keyboarding good for 5 year olds learning letters and 2. you have a feeling that this is wrong, or at least too young, and need help to either convince your admin of that, or convince yourself that it's OK, and if so, how the heck do you teach it to kids that age.

I'm going to come down on the side that you should go with your instincts on this one, that EVEN if you believe that keyboarding is a good thing, this is too young - physically and for age appropriate educationally too. EVEN if you could train 5 year olds to find the letters on the keyboard, what does that give them? Do they really need speed and automaticity, which is the usual goal?

Or, to be completely subversive, you could just agree, and then use an age-appropriate tool like Kid Pix where they can draw and label their pictures (finding letters) and call it age-appropriate keyboarding.
Sylvia, I do agree that 5 is too young-- we start our kids in second grade in our Center. I know what you mean about roadblocks to writing. I teach gifted kids and many gifted boys hate to write--they hate the handwriting part and they hate the "can't get the thoughts out fast enough" part, they hate the editing and the rewrite. The ability to type well is a gift you give them and they give themselves to break through some of their barriers. Yes, it is boring and mind numbing but it is a skill that pays you back! Kids today resist a lot of repetitive tasks--math facts comes to mind, but there some things you have to do.....
Hi Nancy,
My son was one of these students. He was doing so poorly in middle school English because he hated to write. I spent a summer teaching him how to type and it turned the whole thing around for him. For many students, keyboarding is much easier then handwriting. Keyboarding output is not judged the same way that handwriting is judged. Handwriting is much more personal. It's much easier to over constructive, non-personal criticism with keyboarding and with a little practice, almost everyone can improve. With handwriting - sometimes it just is what it is!
My students hate to edit, at least when their ideas are typed in a word processor they can move content around. Perish the thought they'd have to erase something, or move a word or idea!! There is an interesting thing about gifted boys (anecdotal based on 25 years of teaching them) writing is an issue with gifted boys and ADD boys and underachieving boys and asperger's boys and boys with writing disabilities. Sometimes it's hard to get to the root of the problem but I agree with you--knowing how to type improves their writing output most of the time.
Sylvia,
I'm been thinking about this for the past 20 years. I have read many articles and listened to different points of view. I still come back to my initial thought that 5 is too young. I really see no long term advantage to having primary students use a computer for anything other then curricular reinforcement. If you have a program that helps to clarify a concept - that's great; but I would much rather see 5 and 6 year old students learn to read, understand math concepts, learn to follow directions, be social, be artistically and musically creative. This will prepare them to integrate technology into their learning on their own rather then us racking our brains trying to figure out how to justify our jobs by providing proof.
I agree Nancy. At the end of the day, employers want literate, fluent employees. Some people can compensate and do successfully create their own method; however, I don't feel that this applies to the masses. It applies to students who could probably teach themselves how to write with a stick! Thanks for your reply. Deb

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