How can I make typing more fun for my students?

November 20th, 2017 Mike Gecawich

Hey everybody it’s Mike Gecawich, Co-founder of Teaching.com and Creator and Co-founder of Typing.com as well as EduTyping.com. I’d, like to welcome you to another exciting week of — excuse me– #AskEduTyping, our weekly show where we take questions and field audience questions from across the globe, from our typing.com users as well as EduTyping users.

So last week… Each week we introduce a different tip. Last week we told you about the importance of having students warm up before the keyboard. This week’s tip is to take short 30-second typing breaks to improve efficiency and avoid fatigue. Basically, what this means is when students are sitting down to keyboard, just like when you’re working at your computer, it’s important to take breaks and because of the repetitive and some monotony involved with keyboarding it’s important to stop, say every 8 to 10 minutes and take a 30-second break.

So we’re gonna field our first question of the week and I’m joined by my colleague Robin, who’s going to read that now, so Robin if you would.

Yes, our first question comes from Karl from Mississippi, I have been teaching keyboarding for 24 years, primarily in the high school, but for the past 5 years in middle school and now in elementary. What are some words per minute benchmarks for each grade level to achieve. I know that at the elementary level, the words are lower in Lexile, so it’s easier to type compared to typing words: at a high school level. Does Typing.com take that into consideration?

Well, thank you Karl, that’s a lot in one question, but very well said and real important that we address a couple of pieces here. Number one, you used to teach at a higher level and then you went and then you progressed down into a middle school and now you’re, actually in elementary school, which is a trend and a pattern that’s happening all over the country on a regular basis because of the need to have students learn the keyboard at an early age so they don’t develop bad habits. So that’s a trend that’s going to continue… So those are great questions. So number one, you ask about, you mentioned that it’s easier for students

to type at an elementary level, because they’re not actually typing words. For example, a second grader who is just learning how to read for example doesn’t have full words to keyboard. He’s just doing lots of letters just to learn the keystrokes.

However, just to speak to that, it’s actually more difficult for an elementary student to type than it is for somebody say at the high school level and the reason why is their cognitive development skills are not nearly that of say, you know, a tenth grader or an eleventh grader. Their reading skills are much lower, so they’re actually just learning the alphabet and becoming familiar with that.

So you’ll find that it is actually more difficult and you used the word Lexile. Lexile for those of you out there in the user audience who may not be aware what it means, Lexile is a tool that measures the difficulty of reading levels

So, although a Lexiles will score really low meaning the difficulty level for say a second grader, reading that compared to like a twelfth grader, it’s actually more difficult and more challenging. So you asked about setting word per minute benchmarks on Typing.com.

That’s our free product and setting benchmarks basically allows you to say ‘Hey, you guys didn’t achieve the minimum of say, 10 words per minute, and the student would be required to our redo that lesson. We don’t have that feature in our free product, because it does require a lot of programming and a lot of expertise to study the data.

We’re constantly measuring what benchmarks are ideal for each grade and if you go to EduTyping.com and look at the curriculum from our homepage, you’ll actually see we’ve set up Scope & Sequences, which give teachers at all different grade levels recommended minimum benchmarks and setting accuracy levels as well. But that is only available in our classroom premium edition of EduTyping, just because of the work required. It’s part of our paid product, not our free product. So I hope that helps Karl. So we’re gonna take our second question of the week, Robin.

Willie from Ohio’s question, is, if you use custom lessons with song, lyrics etc. how do you ensure that students don’t just cut copy and paste?

Okay, great question. So, first of all, song lyrics is a great thing to do for custom lessons, because you could pick songs that students are interested in and for those of you unfamiliar with that feature in our product EduTyping, again the custom lessons feature is part of the paid, not the free product.

But, just so you know, custom lessons allows teachers to roll out whatever kind of content they want to students. So what was asked in the question was: how can I avoid students copy pasting song lyrics. If they know they’re doing a current song, you know they’re just gonna copy paste the lyrics into it. What’s beautiful about EduTyping is the copy and paste feature is completely disabled inside of all web browsers. So your students can try to copy paste.

However, they’re not gonna have any success in being able to do that, because it simply is not an option. But that was a great question, because you may be new to custom lessons and if it’s your first time, no need to worry about the copy paste feature.

Okay, we’re gonna take our last question of the week, so Robin if you would. Yes, last question, is from Judy from California. I would like to have some new ideas on how to make typing more fun for students, I teach, junior high, seventh and eighth grade level.

Okay, Judy from California. Geez, that’s the other side of the country for us. We are… our virtual office is actually over here, we are located in Rhode Island, so the temperature right now is somewhere around 20 degrees, 25 degrees. So I wish I was there. But to get your question– How can you make keyboarding more fun for students? And, let’s recognize something out there folks, keyboarding is a repetitive task that some students love because it’s kind of they just get into a rhythm, and other students say oh you know

‘What can you do to break up the monotony here? I’m doing the same thing every day!’ Luckily, there’s plenty of strategies and tips that I can share with you, but I’ll point you also to blog.edutyping.com, which is updated every week. And it’s authored by a variety of different experts who have taught keyboarding and work inside of our company.

So there’s lots of strategies and ideas that take you outside of the software itself to make keyboarding more engaging for students. But to just share a few ideas: you can have students team up and do what’s called team keyboarding. So you can put students in groups of 2 or 3. You get a timer and say set that timer at say a minute or 2 minutes and you can add some fun competitiveness inside the classroom by having students work at say keyboarding a paragraph together as a team.

So the first student begins by keyboarding for say, 30 seconds, you yell stop and the other student… you know, the students swap spots and the second member of the team, keys the rest of the paragraph, and then what you have them do is either print or on screen check for word per minute and accuracy and actually have them score how they did as a team and then you can compare the results against the rest of the class. So that’s a real fun technique.

Another idea is to play keyboarding trivia. So this is a real, simple lesson that you can develop in literally about 15 or 20 minutes and all you need is your keyboard. So you take a look at your keyboard and you author a few different types of questions, that kind of have students have to visualize what the keyboard looks like. So to conduct this lesson you have students turn their keyboards over. You wouldn’t use a chart like I have behind me, because that will give away the answers.

So if you have something like that posted inside the class, we ought to get rid of that as well, temporarily. And you can ask a simple question like I am located between the letter A and D keys, who am I? And the answer is the S key. You could come up with a whole different variety of questions that will allow the students to… and you can divide the class into 2 and they can play as a team or you can ask individually and give little rewards and things like that.

Another great idea, which was just asked in our previous question about custom lessons is to have students compose an author from song lyrics that, from their favorite songs. So they simply print out an appropriate song.

That’s obviously goes without saying, but it’s an important piece because you know what’s available out there on the internet, so be careful of the content to make sure that you screen it prior to. But you can have students use– there’s a feature inside of EduTyping or any word processing software to author and type according to what the song lyrics are to their favorite song.

And another idea is bring in a radio or play a popular song that teenagers, or elementary students, or whatever grade level you teach and just push the play button and then push pause, every say minute and have students keyboard to the rhythm of the song and they’re actually keyboarding the lyrics. So we have a ton of more ideas, again I’ll point you to blog.edutyping.com. There’s all kinds of strategies and techniques.

So that’s about all we have time for today, folks here at #AskEduTyping, but if we did not get your question, please remember that you can reach us via Twitter, through our website, Facebook, or Instagram to post your questions and we will do our best to get back to you if we’re not able to do here live. So I will see you next Thursday at 4:15 Eastern Time and for another live edition of Ask EduTyping. Take care, everybody!

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