Some schools offer computer access for students. What does this mean? Well, it depends on the school. “Computer access” could mean:
- All classrooms are outfitted with computers (desktops, laptops or ipads)
- There is a shared laptop cart that teachers may use on a sign-up basis
- There is a shared computer lab that teachers may use on a sign-up basis
- There is a computer lab and a technology teacher, and each class visits the lab x times per week
In numbers 2 and 3, please take note that this kind of “access” is dependent on the teacher’s interest in using technology for student learning. Also keep in mind that there are some schools that do not have computer access for students at all. It is important that you ask questions about what “computer access” means at your child’s school.
Finding some way for your child to access technology is important for quite a few reasons. Today I’m going to focus on one important reason: Learning to type can strengthen literacy skills for students. While typing can strengthen reading skills, I want to focus mostly on writing.
Writing is a complex subject area to teach because there are so many components to develop including: topic generation, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, grammar and capitalization to name a few. Writing with a pencil is one valuable way to foster these skills, while typing is another. I don’t believe that one outweighs the other or that one should take the place of the other. Balance is best. When we write, we generate letters, words and sentences independently. When we type we are selecting a particular button out of a field of options. This narrows our choices, which can be helpful for some students. When first learning to type, many students actually write more slowly (because they need are working on building motor coordination on the keyboard). This makes them stop and think about which key comes next. This can be helpful because:
- Students must make a conscious effort to include proper spacing (by hitting the space bar).
- Students must make a conscious effort to hit the caps lock button to get a capital letter.
- Students slow down with their spelling and can often notice spelling mistakes more clearly on a word processing document than in their own handwriting.
- Students must make choices about which type of punctuation to use in different situations – seeing the options on the keyboard can better help them choose the appropriate punctuation.
- I have found that when my students type, they are more likely to stop and re-read what they have written before writing more. When they write with a pencil, they often write quickly and through stream of consciousness.
- Students can edit their work using a variety of tools on their original document.
I always like putting these stickers on a keyboard when I am teaching a student to type.
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Have any tips for teaching students to type? Share them by leaving a comment!