Let’s all admin it: typing is no fun. It is not fun to copy text for minutes at a time, and can be quite frustrating if you make mistakes and have to repeat it all over again. So how do we get kids excited about keyboarding?
This post was inspired by a previous post where motivation was briefly touched upon. At Keyboarding Online, we have the experience of interacting with teachers daily, and they have taught us quite a bit about keyboard instruction. One thing we always love to hear is how you motivate your students. We share the things we have learn with other instructors whenever they have questions or at conferences when giving presentations. This list is just a few of the things we have heard from instructors.
Talking to Students
Some teachers will start the course off by talking with the students first rather than just jumping into the program. They will ask: “What if I told you that you could create things on the computer better and faster than you do now?” Helping the students understand the purpose behind the education may often motivate them, or at least spark some interest.
Another question would be to just ask the students “Why?” Why are they learning how to keyboard? Students that are engaged will often share personal examples of people they know who can type exceptionally well, like siblings or parents.
Kids thrive on competition. If you can somehow turn keyboarding into a competition, a lot of kids will practice and practice until they are the best.
Competition can be created in several ways. One instructor would have a test they created that the students would all type. At the end, he would gather up their scores and post a class “leaderboard” showing the top scores per class. Keyboarding Online implements a digital leaderboard, which could be printed showing the top scores for the past day, week, or month. One student I personally know of spent several hours a week trying to improve his speed so that he would be the top of the school’s leaderboards.
Most keyboarding instructors will realize that games do not always promote proper keyboarding techniques and will often discourage their use in keyboard instruction. Games however could be a reward for a class room period or week spent typing. Keyboarding Online has spent the past year working on the racing game that is integrated to the program. It can be locked for teachers who don’t want to use it, or set to unlock after a certain amount of time has spent using the program. We designed the game so that students would type coherent sentences or paragraphs rather than a mix of random words. Hopefully this would be beneficial to a student’s skills rather than detrimental like other games.
This is a fun activity for the day with students. Proper keyboarding posture is sitting up straight with your hands and wrists elevated off the desk. When students type, their hands shouldn’t move much if they are typing correctly. The Nickel Test involves putting a nickel on the back of the student’s hands and seeing if they can type an entire timing without the nickels falling off. If they do it successfully, they get to keep the nickels. This can also be done with flat candies, like Starburst, and it will be enjoyed just as much.
Personal Typing Covers
One teacher told us about his method of motivating students by providing them with their own personal keyboard covers. The teacher talked to WalMart before the school year and got them to donate dozens of pairs of men’s boxer shorts. He then proceeded to cut the thigh area out of the front of the shorts and distributed them to the kids. The kids would then use the boxer shorts as keyboard covers (hands go in the waist area, and the thigh area rested over the keyboard where they would do the typing). Kids loved them and used them daily.
One teacher told us that he set up a karate belt system inside the Keyboarding Online program with the Grading Profiles. White belt was the easiest, black belt was the hardest, and there were several other levels. As students progressed, he would award them their new “belt” or level in the program. The program would become more difficult, and the students enjoyed showing off how they did and were always motivated to reach the next level.
At the start of each course, two teachers would compete in front of the students. One would be hooked up to one projector and the other to a different one. The two teachers would type the same passage, essentially racing against each other with the kids cheering them on. One teacher was a very fast typist, maybe 80-90 WPM, but with only fair accuracy. The other teacher was a bit slower, maybe 50-60 WPM, but had excellent accuracy. The students got to see that typing fast is not beneficial if you cannot type accurately.
Along those same lines, another teacher would do something similar but race weekly with a few students to see if they could beat him.
The take away here is that students love to show off their progress, or talk about the progress of others. Competition allows students to show off skills as well, and can be quite fun when the entire class gets involved. Hopefully you can take some of these ideas and make them your own. We at Keyboarding Online always want to hear your ideas and are constantly looking for ways to keep kids motivated in the programs.