Ask EduTyping Episode 1

October 23rd, 2017 Mike Gecawich

View the transcript below—

Good afternoon everybody, my name is Mike Gecawich, and I’m live here on Facebook with Ask EduTyping, which is our new weekly show that will bring teachers around the country and the globe at large different solutions and advice on teaching typing. I’m the Co-Founder of EduTyping as well as Teaching.com.

I’ll be streaming to you live every week at 4:15 EST on Thursdays, so I invite you to ask your questions and if we don’t get to your questions on today’s show please feel free to reach us at #AskEduTyping through either Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

We’ll start each week with a tip of the week. This week I picked a very basic tip, which basically is kind of a standard practice across the globe for keyboarding classrooms. Whether you teach elementary, middle school, or high school and regardless of how much time you can dedicate to keyboarding each day. What I recommend is that your students practice at least a minimum of 10 minutes per day.

Tip of the week: Students should practice keyboarding at least 10 minutes per day

Now you may be saying, I only get to bring my students into the library once a week because I teach 3rd grade. Well, the beautiful thing about web-based keyboarding software like Typing.com and EduTyping.com is that you can have your students work from home or anywhere that has internet access.

So again, practice 10 minutes a day, 7 days a week. That’s 70 minutes of additional keyboarding practice, and your students are sure to become whizzes at keyboarding. In both their accuracy as well as their speed.

We’re going to get started. I have one of my colleagues here, Robin, who will be reading this week’s first question, which I will answer in a moment. Robin–

Our keyboarding students come to us as 6th graders who have developed some very poor habits when it comes to their technique; they have had Chromebooks with little to no keyboard training since 2nd grade and instilling the need to use proper technique is a daily battle with many of them. What are your suggestions?

– Lori Luedtke, Nebraska, Grade 6

Okay, well that’s a great question Lori from Nebraska! I love your state, I was just in Omaha last year at a conference, actually presenting the product EduTyping at a Tech Conference.

But nonetheless, what you’ve asked basically is a very common question. You have 2nd graders, 3rd graders, and 4th graders who have no exposure to keyboarding yet they’re being asked to type different papers and assignments. Probably about 50% of today’s elementary schools require students to submit their assignments via printed paper vs. handwriting.

So as we know, bad habits are very hard to break, but what I recommend is that you provide some kind of incentive as far as your technique grade for your classroom. Technique obviously is the foundation, it’s like learning to ride a bike without a seat or pedals. You see, it’s going to be difficult to do.

What I recommend is providing different incentives for your students to really focus on their technique to break those habits. It will take some time, so in the beginning of the course or the school year, this is the best time to implement what I’m going to suggest—which is providing a weekly keyboarding technique certificate to either one student or you can pass it out to several students. That way students can get to see their name in lights, which they all love.

Secondly, you can provide other incentives and rewards for students who perform well and start to demonstrate to you that they’ve started to break those bad habits. Such as lollipops and candy, students love that, and you can just walk around as a facilitator. and just put these on their desk and say “Hey nice job, your feet are flat on the floor, you’re sitting up straight, and your hands are on the home row keys.”

And the last recommendation that I would make is that you weight percentage-wise a much higher percentage on technique. Especially in the beginning of the course. Many keyboarding teachers will count the technique grade as maybe 10-20% because you’re saying, a lot of your students are coming in with seriously bad habits. Bump that up to 30, 40, or even 50% of their grade so that they will see that hey, my grade really depends on these bad habits.

Whereas if you only counted it as, say 5-10%, their mental state of mind is that hey, I don’t need to worry about how I’m sitting or how I’m positioning my fingers, I just have to try and plow through this assignment.

So those are my recommendations, Lori. Good luck and let us know how things you go. Hopefully those suggestions will help.

I’m gonna move on to our second question of the week, so Robin if you don’t mind reading that—

At what age are kids developmentally ready for typing?

– Amy Robb, Winnipeg School Division

Fantastic question and we get this question all the time, Amy. By-the-way, I’m flying up to Sydney for a visit to a business that I’m working with, and it’s my first time to Sydney, Canada and from what I understand it’s one of the most beautiful islands in the world. So I’m really excited to be attending that meeting there. Hopefully, I’ll get some downtime to visit.

But to your question— so there’s really no magic answer as far as what is the ideal grade to begin teaching keyboarding. However, obviously, we know that there is a big difference between motor dexterity skills in a 1st or 2nd grader vs. a 5th or 6th grader.

However, studies have shown that just like when we introduce multiple languages at a very young age, students are like sponges. So my recommendation is to start them as early as possible, even if it’s a small chunk of time each week.

So kindergarten is ideal because as they’re learning the alphabet on paper and with you writing on the chalkboard, they’ll also be reinforced by seeing those letters on the keyboard.

That’s one piece of advice. The other thing is that studies have shown that students actually cognitively develop at a faster speed when they are presented with multiple areas of learning styles.

So not just writing the letters, but now they’re typing the letters. And students today are so used to touching devices that it’s gonna feel pretty natural to them. So really you can gauge what I’m recommending based on what you feel is best for your classroom, but ideally, grades 2 and 3 are the latest ages you should start, but if you can begin earlier, that’s perfectly fine as well.

Grades 2 and 3 are the LATEST ages you should start, the earlier the better.

We’re going to move to our final question of the week. Robin, if you could read that for us—

The students can get bored with the program. I already use Nitrotype and other games to keep them engaged. Any other suggestions? Also I have a lot of students who get behind. (I have the lessons set up to go in order.) Is there a way to just give more lessons to certain kids, while just having the slower students keep working on the foundation units?

– Dawn Baranski, MI, Grade 6-8

Ok, well, first of all, we have a person here from Michigan today. Her name is Lisa and I forgot the town she’s from, but we’ll be visiting Michigan as well in the late spring at a technology conference. So your question is basically two parts—how do you get students more excited and interested in keyboarding, and then also for students who get behind, how do you segregate them from students who are moving quickly.

To answer part one of your question, to get students more engaged, there are a lot of different techniques you can use in a classroom without actually having to use the software every day because that can become monotonous and redundant.

A couple of suggestions are to add some competitive, fun games into the classroom, where students are either working independently or as teams. A couple of suggestions:

Number one: you can play Keyboarding Trivia.

What that basically means is that you can have students turn their keyboards over and then challenge them. You can either divide them up into two teams, or you can four groups of five, or however many students you have. Write the group names on the board, and then ask them different questions.

For example, you can say, name the left home row keys. Who can name the right home row keys? So that will infuse some competitive fun into the lesson, but it will also reinforce the keyboard.

My second recommendation is a book I wrote several years back called Games Keyboarding Teachers Play, and in that book we had teachers submit different lessons that they used.

One that pops to mind for me is called Musical Keyboarding, and basically, you play that like musical chairs. What you do is you pick a song that is appropriate for your classroom, have students sit together. One stands, one sits, a song begins to play, they key the lyrics. You have a timer that goes say, after 30 seconds, the students switch places and student B takes up where student A left off in the song and then after a certain period of time, you can have them to do that for on and off a minute each for about 5-10 minutes.

Then have them print the assignment or have them visually check on the screen. You would measure their speed as well as if they made any mistakes for accuracy and come up with a grading system and let the students know who the most accurate and fast typer was.

So there’s a whole bunch of different things you can do.

Finally, there’s a game called Basketball Keyboarding, which basically you have students type a passage. And again they can work in teams, or you can have them do this individually. And if they say finish a 3-sentence paragraph with no mistakes that’s like getting a 3-point shot.

If they make one mistake, that’s like getting a 2-point shot on the basketball court. And if they make more than say, 3-4 errors you can kind of determine this based on what grade you teach, they would get one point. And you would play how many rounds.

So these are just some ideas, but if you get creative you can certainly go past the software and implement some of these techniques into your classroom every week.

And your last question was- I have some students who fall behind in the classroom while others move along quickly.

In EduTyping and Typing.com, if you’re using either of those programs, you can set up to separate classes for the same class.

What I mean by that, is let’s say it’s a Period 2 keyboarding class, so you could have Period 2A and Period 2B. Move those students who are kind of brisking along nicely into the first class, which would be Class A. And then in Class B you could have your students who are lagging behind a little bit.

And then what you do is to customize the curriculum accordingly, based on their skill set. This will be completely hidden from the students, they will have no idea that they’re in separate groups, but yet it will allow you to either add some additional reinforcement or practice library/news event articles for the students that are moving ahead more quickly.

And for those who are lagging behind a little bit, you can kind of not give them those additional assignments. Basically, they will not know the difference other than— I need to complete the lessons that were assigned to me, while the other students who were moving on a little more rapidly are able to stay at their same pace.

So that is all that we have time for this week, but I thank you for tuning in to our first Ask EduTyping show. Again, if we didn’t get to your questions you can submit them at any time all week through #AskEduTyping. Through either Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And please be sure to visit our blog at Edutyping.com, there’s a little blog button. Or it’s blog.edutyping.com and you will find a lot of activities. We have two wonderful teaching guides on How to Teach Elementary Keyboarding and How to Teach Secondary Keyboarding.

We update that blog on a regular basis. We are passionate about what we do here at EduTyping and Teaching.com. As a former educator myself it is my goal each week to give you the best advice possible.

But just remember, the best advice ever given is that you don’t have to take the advice that somebody gave to you. 🙂

We’ll see you next week folks and thanks for tuning in. Take care.

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