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Teaching with Typing Tournament – Best Practice

The teaching of efficient typing skills is a curriculum requirement

The Australian Curriculum

Within The Australian Curriculum, there is an implicit requirement that students develop efficient keyboarding skills. (ACELY1654, ACTDIK007, ACELA1433, ACTDIK001).

NSW Syllabus

The Technology outcomes of the NSW Syllabus are explicit regarding the teaching of keyboarding skills and lead to the statement in the document “demonstrate confidence, accuracy and speed in keyboard skills” (Overview of phonological and graphological processing skills K–6 referencing: ENe-2A, ENe-3A, ENe-11D, EN1-2A, EN1-3A, EN1-11D, EN2-2A, EN2-3A, EN2-9B, EN2-7B, EN3-2A, EN3-5B)

NAPLAN Online

ACARA, the author and custodian of the Australian Curriculum, NAPLAN and NAPLAN Online clearly expects students to have well-developed keyboarding skills to complete the type-written content of the NAPLAN Online.

Finding time in the crowded curriculum to teach typing

Teachers usually report a rapid increase in student’s typing speeds when using Typing Tournament. This means that other tasks such as writing can be completed more rapidly with the time invested in Typing Tournament being more than balanced by the savings in other areas.

How do schools implement Typing Tournament?

A little regularly is the best approach. With Typing Tournament, each student has their own account that tracks their progress word by word. This means that class sessions can be any length that suits your situation. Here are a few of the common strategies teachers use:

  • The first 10-1 5 minutes of ICT and specialist lessons
    • ICT lesson in the computer lab
    • Creative writing
    • Business studies
  • Regular in-class typing sessions
    • Use laptops one on one if there are sufficient
    • Start the day or return from morning tea or lunch to 10 minutes of typing
    • Regular typing lesson in weekly timetable
    • Use in small groups for rotations
  • A concentrated focus period
    • Perhaps 15 minutes a day for say 2 weeks with follow-up lessons at longer intervals
    • A focus on Typing Tournament for a term followed by a term off
  • Activity rotations in class
    • Language arts/English
    • ICT
  • Non class use
    • Lunch time voluntary activity in the library
    • After school care
  • Homework
    • Use Typing Tournament as a homework activity
    • Print and send home the Typing Tournament “Home Use” letters from the Teacher Management section
    • Use the The Typing Tournament reports to see when a student last used the system

A Whole School approach is best

The teaching of typing skills, like handwriting, is a longitudinal process and needs to be introduced early to every student with ongoing practice, exposure and increasing expectations year by year. Typing Tournament gives schools an adaptable, expandable tool that goes from the rudiments of typing right through to typing speeds exceeding 100 words per minute!

Start with one class and expand to the rest

Many schools are currently in the process of incorporating the teaching of typing into their teaching programmes. Often, schools start with one class and work from there or the ICT teachers uses it with a range of classes from the beginning. Typing Tournament has been built to help teachers achieve the relevant keyboarding curriculum outcomes across all years of schooling and to teach students the vital skill of 10 finger typing.

At what grade level can we start?

Typing Tournament can be implemented as whole school strategy or class by class and is commonly used from Year 2 through to Year 12. Enhancements currently under development will enable its use with even younger students. Ideally students should be well engaged in the process by Year 3.

How much time needs to be spent using Typing Tournament?

Regularity and repetition are key when learning a kinesthetic skill like typing and like all such skills the time taken to learn them varies greatly with the individual. Our current estimate is that students take approximately 20 hours of focused, regular use to achieve functional 10 finger typing. Younger students take longer. Investing extra time to achieve higher typing speeds is recommended.

First establish the use of the right fingers on the right keys

Most students come to Typing Tournament with well-established poor typing habits. For them to learn to type correctly it is important that they retrain their muscle memory and establish good typing habits.The Typing Tournament system senses many attributes of each typist and uses this information to manage each student’s progression, however it cannot determine whether the student is using the right fingers on the right keys. Ultimately only a vigilant teacher can ensure that students use the right fingers on the right keys. Resist the temptation to let the students type, unsupervised – particularly in the introdutory stages of the typing lessons. Time being vigilant early on will pay dividends as the students progress.

There are many inbuilt encouragements and instructions within Typing Tournament that guide students to use the right fingers on the right keys. They include:

  • The requirement to position the fingers on the home row to start drills and test
  • The animated hands that model the correct finger placement
  • The guided lessons at the start of each of the 16 typing Chapters

Although these inbuilt encouragements guide students toward the use of the correct fingers on the correct keys however, it is important that teachers complement the process through direct supervision and other strategies including:

  • Monitors – Designate a member of the class to act as a monitor to check on and encourage other members of the class to use the right fingers on the right keys. Rotate monitors throughout the lesson
  • Buddies – Pair each student with another and periodically have them observe the other and have them encourage them to use the right fingers on the right keys and to observe correct posture and keeping their eyes on the screen
  • Teacher aides and parents – Use them as monitors

Learning to type is like learning to play a musical instrument

You start young with simple music, learn your scales, use correct fingering and technique, and gradually progress to harder and harder pieces.

Classroom strategies to ensure correct finger placement

Slow down and take time to ensure that all students use correct posture and finger placement from the beginning.

  • Whiteboard projection – Finger placement: Project Chapter 1 (Mountains) to a whiteboard and model the correct practice to the class
  • Whiteboard projection – Correct Posture: Project the “Posture Info” from the Typing Tournament Main Menu to a whiteboard and discuss and model with the class
  • Direct supervision: Take the time to directly supervise the student’s initial use of Typing Tournament to ensure that they are using the right fingers on the right keys. Once correct practice has been established the supervision load will reduce
  • Adult helper: Organise a parent or teacher aide to help monitor students and encourage them to use the correct finger placement
  • Class monitor: Designate some class members to monitor another student’s use of the correct finger placement. Change roles from time to time.
  • Typing Buddies: Pair each student with another. Have one type whilst the other watches and encourages the typist to use the right fingers on the right keys. Change roles from time to time.
  • Discussion – use all 10 helpers: Talk with the class about the need to use all 10 fingers to get the job done. Use the illustration of digging a hole with 10 helpers with shovels. Q. What is the fastest way to get the job done? A. By getting all 10 helpers digging.
  • Discussion – musical instrument: To play a musical instrument it is important to use the correct fingers and technique. The same is true with typing. Play with the wrong fingers and you will not be able to progress very far but learn correctly and you will be able to make wonderful music. It’s slow to learn at first but the rewards come later. The same is true of learning to type.

Resetting student’s results

From time to time it may be necessary to reset the results (work done in Typing Tournament) for an individual student, group of students or a whole class. This need arises when students have been using the wrong fingers on the keys and they need to go back and redo the exercises to build correct muscle memory or some other person has typed in a student’s account. To reset a student’s results, sign as a teacher, navigate to the class and select the student, then click on “View Student History” and then under Point 2 select the Activities which you wish to reset. Choose “Delete Selected” from the side bar.

Focusing on the screen and not the keyboard

To touch type correctly students must focus their eyes on the screen and not the keyboard. The prerequisite to this skill is the establishment of automaticity in the key strokes being typed for each letter and the use of the right fingers on the right keys. Once these primary skills are established the teacher needs to encourage students to focus their eyes on the screen and not the keyboard.

  • Actively supervise and encourage students that are well advanced in the establishment of automaticity and are using the right fingers on the right keys to focus on the screen and not the keyboard.
  • Stealth Keyboard – Once students have demonstrated that they are able to type accurately and have passed the exit tests up to Chapter 4 on the map the teacher substitutes the standard keyboard for one with all or some of the identifying letters on the keyboard removed. The lack of letter symbols encourages students to keep their eyes on the screen and to rely on muscle memory to complete their typing. Keeping keyboards from old computers and then colouring over the letter symbols with black marking pen or small blank stickers are effective ways of masking the letters.
  • Tea towel – Whilst typing place a tea towel over the hands. This method was commonly used when teaching students to type on manual type writers.

Modelling

Have the class teacher or other teachers and parents from around the school community model good typing habits.

  • For teachers with good typing skills
    • Project the Teacher Edition of Typing Tournament to the class whiteboard, unlock the map and type in any section of Typing Tournament
    • Model typing on their own computer to the class
    • Use the Typing Tournament speed tests to find the fastest teacher typist in the school and then challenge the students to better their score
  • For teachers with poor typing skills
    • Be open about the problem and then start using Typing Tournament alongside the students and then share your progress with them. They will be proud of your achievements and you will learn to type at the same time!
    • Encourage the students to better their progress
    • Encourage students with well-developed typing skills to model to others

Storytelling and interviews

Many adults and older students have stories to tell about the frustration of not being able to type or the positive impact that good typing skills have made in their lives. Some can recount the difference that learning to touch type made once they acquired the skill.

  • Share your own typing story with the class
  • Invite others to share their typing story including:
  • The school principal
  • Other teachers
  • Parents or grandparents
  • Older brothers or sisters

Motivators

There is a host of motivational devices built into Typing Tournament. Intrinsic motivators include: instant feedback on words typed, speed tests, lessons, drills and games. Extrinsic motivators include: Printed certificates, games, reward movies, collection of tokens and badges and more. Many teachers use a mix of the following to further enhance student motivation:

  • Leaderboard
    • The powerful Class Leaderboard tracks every word typed and resets at the start of each week.
    • View for your school only thus allowing competition between classes
    • Filter by state and age group and see the ranking of your class overall
  • Typing Challenge
    • Typing Challenges are held quarterly where classes go head-to-head around Australia. Students become highly engaged
    • Trophies are awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd fastest classes by age group
    • Trophies are awarded for 1st, 2nd, 3rd most words typed by age group
    • Printable Achievement Certificates are generated
  • Certificates and reports 
    • Typing Tournament generates a wide range of reports and certificates that reward students for effort and affirm their achievements
    • Print and present them in class, for school assembly, send home to parents, for archiving in student’s folios
  • Speed tests
    • The Typing Tournament Speed Test can be taken at any time with the results instantly displayed on-screen upon conclusion and logged in the Reports section. Many teachers use the Speed Test to gain a quick feel for how the students are progressing and give them feedback relative to their own PB.
    • Start each lesson with a Speed Test to give the students instant feedback on their overall progress and to give a dynamic feel to the lesson
    • Conduct a weekly Speed Test to build an individual class leaderboard
    • Conduct a school or grade-wide competition to find the fastest typist
    • Invite members of staff or the parent body to complete speed tests to find the fastest typist in the school community
  • Build wall charts
    • Students love to see their progress plotted on wall charts and Typing Tournament provides a wealth of information that can be used to generate such charts. Charts could include:
    • Results from a weekly Speed Test
    • % accuracy achieved on a weekly Speed Test
    • Levels passed 1 – 16 on the map
    • Badges achieved

Typing Tips Posters

A series of pdf posters designed to jazz up your classroom and help you to focus on teaching the crucial concepts that underpin good typing technique.  The posters will assist you in raising student’s expectations of the typing speeds that can be achieved and give a sense of context to the acquisition of typing skills.