My 7th grade students are about 3/4 of the way through a 4-week cycle of keyboarding lessons. They start each lesson with a speed test and record their score on a spreadsheet and then do typing lessons (we use Mavis Beacon) for 30 minutes and then finish out the class with some typing games.
On Tuesday, one of my students came to class with a newly broken right arm so I quickly posted a question on Plurk asking for suggestions for keyboarding with a broken arm. One of the members of my PLN said there were lots of things online about one-handed keyboarding strategies. So, it was off to Google to do some searching. There is a lot out there but most of the links wanted to sell me software or adaptive keyboards or provided information on how to learn the QWERTY keyboard when you only have one-hand for typing.
I didn’t want this student to retrain her thinking to always typing with one-hand and then I remembered that there had been a discussion on the Elementary Tech Teachers Ning about Left Hand Keyboarding and I thought there might be some information on there that I could use since this student had broken her right arm.
Using some of the information on there and a few more searches, here’s what I’ve come up with so this student won’t be learning things she’ll have to unlearn and won’t be doing nothing for the next few classes until we’re done with the keyboarding lessons. Using the custom text option available on keybr.com along with a modified version of the Left-Hand Keyboard Words and a few words from the List of English words containing Q not followed by U from Wikipedia and a few combinations of the numbers typed with the left hand, my student was able to practice her keyboarding – at least with her left-hand. I gave her the option of reading or just playing some keyboarding games about half way through the class but she kept with it getting through all of the a & b words and some of the c words.
For the remaining classes, I’ll use the same list and have her continue through the alphabet or I may try to put some sentences or phrases together using the words to make it more interesting. I may also have her try to write something in Word using just the words you can type with your left hand. The only problem with that would be punctuation since those keys are on typed with the right hand. During the typing game portion of the class, I am going to encourage my student to play a game or two at FreetypingGame.net using lesson #14 – Emphasize Left Hand. I may also have the whole class play a game during the last class to test their knowledge of the keyboard without actually having to type.
Keybr.com and the Custom Text option could be useful in other situations, too. Even without a broken arm, a student may need practice with their left hand or their right hand. Use the Left-Hand Keyboard Words or Right-Hand Keyboard Words and practice away! Have your students finished your basic keyboarding curriculum or do you want them to practice with something other than the lessons in your keyboarding program? Have them find the lyrics to their favorite songs online and practice keyboarding with the lyrics. Use a site like Read Book Online or Read Print or the Classic Book Library and copy some text from a book or poem or short story into the Custom Text and have the students practice their keyboarding with that.
This week over on the Elementary Tech Teachers Ning there is a discussion about Frustrations in the Computer Lab. I didn’t start it but I definitely empathize with it. It’s very hard when you get asked the same questions over and over and over again and no one seems to be listening. That discussion thread got me to thinking how best I can try to head this tendency off at the pass:
I am going to start classes out with a presentation on what we are doing for the day away from their computers. I do find that once they are sitting at their own computer they are too easily distracted and don’t listen to instructions. I have been doing this with the younger grades but not the older ones. I am going to start it with the older ones too and see if that helps things.
I will remind classes daily that they should read their screen and ask their neighbors before asking me.
I will also remind them that if they do want to ask me a question that they must remain seated and just raise their hand and I will get to them. It seems that a lot of teachers use a red cup to indicate trouble and I may try something like this. If they have to keep their hand raised they can’t continue trying to work so they become more impatient. If they could put a cup up and then try to continue that might cut down on them calling out my name or getting out of their seats. I have not used this up to now for fear the red cups would become a distraction themselves.
I will stop talking and start over if they begin talking over me. Some of the classes are just chatty and I don’t mind if they talk while they are working but they need to listen while I’m talking.
I often remind the older grades that if this were a new video game they would just be trying it and I want them to use that same approach in computer class.
I have also had some frustrations this week due to problems with our Internet connection. More and more of what we do in class depends on the Internet so when it’s not available that can be a real problem. For the next few weeks, I am going to have alternate plans available for each day so that if there are issues I don’t have to try to figure out what to do at the last minute. Our provider did come out and look at what was happening this week but they said there was nothing they could do – of course at the time they were there it was up. Isn’t that always the way it happens?
Triumphs: I’ve been using some of the ideas that one of the teachers that I have met online has posted on her Kid Pix Projects pages and the kids have really enjoyed them – thanks Ann. Kindergarten was introduced to the pencil tool in Kid Pix and asked to draw a picture only using that tool. A few of them really wanted to use other things available in Kid Pix but did do the assignment. 1st Grade reviewed the pencil tool, Uh-oh Man and eraser and then created Self-Portraits only using the pencil tool. I did let them use the flood fill bucket at the end to color in the background but they had to have finished their portrait with only the pencil tool first.
2nd Grade started an ABC Chart of Initial Letter sounds using stamps that start with the initial letter sound. 3rd Grade also started an ABC Chart of Initial Letter sounds but they are using stickers instead of stamps. 3rd Grade really liked learning how to move things around and about flattening stickers and how to use the scissor tool to delete things. They have a hard time with the eraser and often end up erasing more than they want to so they think the scissor tool is wonderful.
The teachers are starting to ask me if I could integrate with certain things more. I’m happy with that. All of Middle School has to turn in a crossword puzzle as part of their Book Report next month so I’m working with the Middle School students on how to create crossword puzzles in Excel and I’m giving them some web sites they could use too. I’ve also started putting spelling lists into Spelling City and a few grades have played some of the games there with their spelling lists.
I just found out that Voices of the World is starting up again this year. I had just signed up to have 2nd Grade do the Online Autumn Project (Kindergarten was already signed up to do this one) so they won’t be doing Voices of the World but I will have 4th Grade do it. 4th is a small class this year so I can teach them how to record their own voices for this. I’m hoping that our Internet connection doesn’t give us problems again because I really would like to finish the book reviews on Voice Thread this coming week.
And how is your school year going so far? Share your frustrations, triumphs and plans!