As you probably know, the students in this classroom use mini laptops on a regular basis for research and writing. For those who would like extra practice to master keyboarding skills, I have a great practicing resource and some tips to share. A few years ago, I had a couple parents ask me to tutor their children in keyboarding. I looked around for a free program to use. Through the Multnomah County Library's website, I found a free online typing course called Goodtyping (you will need to create a username and password). It is an excellent step-by-step program that helps students begin mastering the keyboard. When I was tutoring students, I often covered their hands with a dish towel so they could not look at their fingers. As you will read below, technique is a top priority and speed is not important as children learn their way around this tool. I also came across a great article on the Education World website about teaching keyboarding. Here are a few highlights from the article Teaching Keyboarding: More than Just Typing: "In our elementary keyboarding classroom," Craig Nansen told Education World, "we have a sign that lists the top ten goals of keyboarding instruction: Technique Technique Technique Technique Technique Technique Technique Technique Accuracy Speed "Keyboarding is a motor skill," Nansen noted. "It is a matter of training fingers to respond correctly and quickly to press the correct key -- kind of like in athletics where you keep doing it over and over again until it becomes habit." "Years of research have been done on the correct way to teach these skills," Nansen added. "This research found the drills dealing with key combinations not only to develop these motor skills the quickest way but also to develop those skills so they won't be lost. There is a reason for those fff fjf jfj jjj drills." "My emphasis is on proper form not speed," agreed Laurie Patterson. "Let me explain what I mean when I say proper form. My students are expected to have their hands on home row keys, to use the proper finger for each letter, to have their wrists flat and their thumbs on the space bar. And they are expected to know where the keys are without looking. Often I cover the keys so they can't look. I monitor them, watch them closely, and model for them constantly. "I set a goal of three words per minute for third graders and around seven for fourth and fifth graders," said Patterson. "I lower it or raise it depending on the success of the individual student. "My emphasis is not on speed," added Patterson. "I don't want to frustrate students by raising the speed beyond what they can manage, forcing them to have to look at the keys in order to be successful." "If you put pressures on students at this age to attain speed and accuracy, I think you will be doing kids a big disservice," said Carla Cruzan. "Speed is not what is most important. Most important is correct technique. With correct keying, speed will come automatically with time and use. Accuracy will come automatically by letting up on the speed. Emphasize correct technique only at these ages." "The true measure of the typist or keyboardist is that he or she no longer thinks, 'I must press my fourth finger on my left hand without moving up or down,' but thinks 's' and the finger responds automatically," "Explain to students that the memory is in the muscles. Use an example such as riding a bicycle. Tell them that once their fingers learn the keyboard, the fingers will not forget, just as they will never forget how to ride a bike once they have learned. Tell students to be patient with themselves; they are training their finger muscles to remember the position of the keys. This is why it is important to sit up straight, keep their feet flat on the floor and their keyboards at the proper height and adjustment -- so the fingers always approach the keys the same way." "To avoid carpal tunnel syndrome," Cruzan said, "learners must keep their wrists straight -- no breaking at the wrist, either up or down. This is only possible if the keyboard is at an ergonomically correct height. A penny placed on the back of a hand while keying should remain there if the wrist is straight.