Many middle school students have mastered touchscreen technology on various electronic devices. Whether playing games using the latest mobile phone apps or tapping email messages on tablets, learning keyboarding techniques may seem like a useless skill. However, school districts including Derry Cooperative in New Hampshire require keyboard proficiency using home row methodology. The district takes the lead from National Educational Technology Standards expecting students to master accurately typing 20 words per minute by the end of eighth grade.
Middle schools usually choose a typing program for students to use. Select software based on school funding, computer hardware and network capability. Manufacturers offer a plethora of typing choices including free online software or school-priced standalone and network versions. EduTyping is just one Web-based keyboarding program which aligns with national keyboarding standards. Teachers can customize individual student assessments, assign online homework and monitor students' progress. Even though a pupil finishes a typing level does not necessarily mean she is using the correct fingers for the task. Use keyboard covers so that students memorize keys as well as correct finger positioning.
Host a week-long keyboarding camp concentrating on improving typing skills. Create camp tops using plain white T-shirts and markers. Provide creative ideas such as drawing the home row or 10-key pad on camp shirts. Divide students into groups. Run relay typing races. Instruct each student to type for a minute. Sound a buzzer at the end of each minute, telling the next person to go. Once all students have finished, check which group typed speedily and accurately. Practice team-building. Assign pairs of students. Instruct pairs to combine efforts typing a paragraph using the right hand from one student and the left hand from the other.
Present a unit explaining how previous generations learned to type. According to Smithsonian, Christopher Sholes invented the QWERTY keyboard based on the most common sequence of letters that a typist might use. Combine the history of the typewriter and the QWERTY keyboard. Obtain typewriter typing tests or make up your own using sentences containing every letter of the alphabet called pangrams. Cover the computer screen so that students cannot see what they are typing. Give timed tests, print out and grade.
Introduce note-taking using proper keyboarding techniques including correct posture, keyboard memorization and typing from home row. Play a popular tune or the school song. Instruct students to type the song as they remember it. Identify which students type the fastest or with the greatest accuracy. Tell students to close their eyes. Randomly call out words, sentences or phrases. Try flashing a card containing a letter, word or sentence. Instruct students to key in the corresponding letters.
Anne Reynolds is a writer who has worked for the U.S. government, the public school system and as a public library specialist. She began writing in 1990 and has contributed articles to various online publications.