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Teaching typing

Not actually a battle between handwriting and typing
This post was inspired by a Twitter discussion this week between, amongst others, @oliverquinlan, @APrimaryNQT, @tomhenzley and @KnikiDavies on the merits of handwriting and word processing.

Despite the humble word processor being one of the ICT tools that has been in use in schools the longest, it can often be one of the most poorly used opportunities; and at the heart of this lies pupils’ lack of speed when typing.

Over the course of last year, I made a concerted effort to rectify this with the Y5s I had the pleasure of teaching every Thursday. I introduced them to a few websites that would enable them to improve their keyboard skills, then at the start of our weekly ICT lesson in the suite they would practise. This had the added advantage of enabling me to solve the inevitable technical glitches that we would encounter at log on.

As the year went on, I gradually added more web sites to give them variety. Some of these (like the BBC Dance mat typing) were designed to teach children to touch type, but most of them were just focusing on improving speed of letter finding.

I’m sure there are many people who feel that children should be taught to touch type and I’m not disagreeing with that, but I firmly believe that children will find the way that works best for them. Some of the children would try the touch typing, not get on with it and revert to the keyboard skill sites. Others would be desperate to try to master the ‘proper’ way of doing it. Some changed their approach over the course of the year – but all of them wanted to do the typing practice; all year. They never got bored of it.

The links were stored on a page of our Learning Platform that didn’t require logging in to: this meant that they could access them even if they had forgotten their password, and also that they could practise in their own time too.

I didn’t really notice the children’s typing speed improve over the course of the year, but towards the end of the summer term, when we were working on a collaborative project, I was suddenly amazed at the speed of all the children. Also, in their review of the year, many of them mentioned how pleased they were that they could type quickly.

From a battle point of view, I’m sure there are champions for both sides of the handwriting/typing skills debate. Personally, I believe they are both life skills we should be developing (at least for the time being!); but more importantly, I feel we should be encouraging children to make a choice as to which they prefer, and which is best in any given situation.

Sites encouraging touch typing
Dance Mat Typing
Big Keyboard Game
Chameleon Games

Sites to improve keyboard familiarisation:
Super Hyper Spider
Falling Letters
Monkey Climber
Beat the Goalie
Typing of the Ghosts
Air Typer
Magic Library
Parachuting Sheep

  1. August 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm
  2. August 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Thanks, John!

  3. September 1, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks for these, I will direct the children towards them! Nice idea about a little practice each week. I usually let them have a little choosing time if they finish early – I may insist on 5 mins typing games before they head for Cool Maths games!

  4. September 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Glad you found it helpful, Nikki. Thanks for letting me know.

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