Guest Post by Andrew from MatchNext
Our 5th graders are learning how to type. I described the software, TypingClub, in my last post.
We’ve had to figure out how to do it right. Here’re all the questions we’ve been trying to answer, and ‘hacks’ we’ve been testing out.
Question 1: Should kids work silently and independently, or...can they talk to each other?
Our answer: silently and independently
First, we started off silently and independently, but it got a little stale.
So we started letting them work in pairs where a student would ‘coach’ the kid that was typing. This was okay for a while, but was really hard to execute. Unless you had a really experienced person in the room really managing and focusing on the conversations, it wasn’t all that productive (also, the whenever a kid was ‘coach,’ they weren’t getting any or their own practice done). You don’t become a better runner by telling someone else how to run.
So we settled back on ‘silent and independent.’ But I think we solved the problem of it getting stale with the ‘tests.’ More on these later.
Question 2: how do you prevent kids from becoming ‘people who have to look at their hands when they type’?
Our answer: strategically cut-up tops of copy paper boxes to cover their hands. Here’s what those look like:
iii. Get at least 95%, and type at a certain speed in order to pass (the speed varies depending on the level).
d. If they pass, they need to mark their progress on a chart. Here’s what that looks like.
The good parts about doing it this way:
It’s simple. Very simple. There’s nothing to plan, you just need to be in the room and make sure students are working.
The chart makes it easy to check a kid’s progress. At any time, I can pull a kid aside and have them do a level they said they passed.
Students are 100% accountable for their own progress. We’ve got some kids that nail the practice and are pretty much done with the program, other kids that aren’t getting the practice they should be getting. If a kid isn’t getting it done, it shows.
You can’t watch every kid the way you’d want. You’re still ‘managing,’and putting a lot of trust in them to do it right. If they’re doing it wrong and forming bad habits, though, you need to figure out a way to iron these out. But at least it doesn’t go unchecked for very long.
I found this cool program called ‘Nitro Type.’ It’s a racing game. Kids type sentences. The faster they type, the faster they can get a car to move. It’s fun, they love it.
We let students that pass level 90 on TypingClub play Nitro Type. We’ve got a couple kids that are there, and everyone else gets jealous when they’re on Nitro Type. Kids beg to play it during breaks and at home, too.
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