As a nerdy teacher, I love it when my students explore coding, discover the joys of collaborative writing via Google docs, or immerse themselves in online research. But before they can do any of those technology-enriched learning activities, they need to master an essential 21st-century skill: typing.
That’s right, typing. Gone are the days when typing was a standalone class where middle or high schoolers sat in front of massive machines that they had never used before, struggling to master the home row and worrying that the teacher would smack them with a ruler or put a cardboard box over their hands if they peeked at the keys.
I vaguely remember having a typing/computer class in middle school, but I'm sure I spent most of my time in that class dying of dysentery. In high school, there was a keyboarding class that was just repetition of some program that would time me on how fast I could type these insane sentences that had all of the important words with the important letters I was supposed to master typing without looking at my keyboard. The boxes over the keyboard and your hands so you couldn't see the keys was an extra special touch that made me really hate typing. It wasn't until I needed to type for myself in college that I learned to type well.
With the proliferation of Chromebooks in classrooms around the country, typing has become a language that kids need to know if they want to unlock the power of connected learning—not to mention the fact that, in some states, kids as young as 2nd grade need to be able to type for assessments.
Clearly, we can’t wait until middle school to introduce our students to the joys of the home row. On the other hand, many kindergarteners and 1st -graders simply aren’t big enough to type “properly” on a full-sized keyboard. Here are a few tips for setting young learners on the road to typing.
Make it Fun
We learn to type by repetition, but it doesn’t have to be drudgery. Many of today’s kindergarteners are already comfortable playing games on tablets or laptops, and teachers can easily find typing games that feel more like recess than homework.
Start with One Finger
Kindergarteners don’t need to go from zero to 60 words per minute. Free games like the ones you can find at TypeTastic teach them letter-recognition skills that lay the foundation for typing—and they can play them on a tablet with a single finger.
Do a Little Every Day
Helping students move from recognizing letters to finding the home keys to eventually touch-typing takes plenty of practice over time. If your students enjoy typing games, you can use them as a reward for work well done, or as a fun warm-up to get those competitive juices going at the beginning of the class.
No matter how you incorporate typing into your daily lessons, you’ll be preparing your students for a world where the keyboard is king.
This is a sponsored post, but that doesn't mean I don't believe that students need to start exploring typing at a young age so they can be comfortable exploring the digital world as they go through life.