4K and 5K
Our 4K and 5K students will spend the majority of the school year learning how to use computer hardware and software. Students will engage in individual and group activities designed to teach the various mouse functions, opening and closing software programs, accessing menus, moving from one screen to another, and even using the Internet's wealth of free and low-cost educational games and seasonal activities.
1st and 2nd Grades
Students in our 1st and 2nd grade classes will focus heavily on developing keyboarding skills. First-graders will use SpongeBob Squarepants Teaches Typing, and second-graders will use Typing Instructor. Both programs teach keyboarding in an engaging and motivational format that rewards students for accomplishments and provides additional individualized keyboarding practice. Students use Speedskins to encourage touch typing and to discourage looking at their hands while they type.
First-graders will be graded for proper technique and steady improvement in rate and accuracy rather than for specific rate and accuracy achievements. Second grade students will be required to type eight to nine words per minute for an "S" in keyboarding during the third quarter. All grades have an accuracy goal of at least 90 percent. Grades are based on how well students meet their keyboarding goals, as well as on attitude, effort, and graded projects (MS Word and Internet/media literacy projects in 1st and 2nd grade). Specials classes at All Saints’ use the E, S+, S, S-, and U grading scale (see Parent Handbook for complete description). Students will engage in a variety of activities using software and the Internet to develop computer skills and literacy (including safety) while having lots of fun.
3rd Grade—6th Grade
Students in third through sixth grade use Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing for their keyboarding program. It is individualized, thus it can introduce letters at a pace appropriate for the particular student. The Mavis Beacon program continually assesses student needs and modifies subsequent lessons to address these needs. This program also uses more age-appropriate games to reinforce new skills, which students really seem to enjoy.
Grades are based on keyboarding (20%), projects (20%; related to Windows 7, Office 2010, media literacy, beginner programming, and the Internet), quizzes (20%), mechanical assessments (20%) and attitude and effort (20% each). Tests cover computer terminology, techniques (using operating systems, browsers, software), the history and safe use of the Internet, and media literacy. Keyboarding accuracy is expected to be at least 90% throughout the year, and the words-per-minute goals for an “S” for the third quarter are as follows.
|3rd Grade||11-13 wpm|
|4th Grade||12-14 wpm|
|5th Grade||16-17 wpm|
|6th Grade||19-21 wpm|
Since students have computer lab only once each week, home practice is essential in developing strong keyboarding skills. Students who practice at home regularly are the ones who consistently meet and exceed classroom goals. Encouraging children to use these skills whenever they are on their home computers also helps support growth in this area.
In addition to learning how to use resources on the Internet, students will learn to use Office 2010 programs (beginning with Word in third grade, adding Excel in fourth grade, and adding Powerpoint in sixth grade). Through graded projects using this and other software and the Windows 7 operating system, students will learn how to perform a wide variety of computer and software tasks, i.e., working with folders, saving files, setting margins, editing text, merging cells in a worksheet, creating graphs and charts, using simple formulas, working with graphics, using flash drives, and toggling between open programs.
Developing Good Keyboarding Skills
Keyboarding is a difficult skill, especially in the beginning. Students have a tendency to want to invent their own systems for pressing keys, but doing so only limits the level of speed and accuracy they will eventually be able to achieve. Once a bad habit is developed, it is very difficult to break. Common examples are using the thumb to press the keys on the bottom row above the space bar. Most children think it's more practical to use a thumb to press the "c" or the period rather than to lift the index finger up and use the middle finger (in the case of the "c") or the index finger and middle finger of the right hand and use the ring finger to press the period. Doing so, however, requires that a person rotate his hand, taking it off the space bar (where it should continually rest) and causing home-row fingers to leave their positions. Trying to get fingers back on the home row keys properly almost always requires looking. If a child stops to look, it negatively impacts his or her speed. If a child guesses and does so incorrectly, it negatively impacts his or her accuracy. In the lab, I stress going slowly and using only the correct finger for each key at all times. Fingers become stronger (think of all the periods we type in any given message, and we use one of our weakest fingers to do so) and automaticity develops by using this approach.
Many children do need additional home practice. It is important, especially for first and second graders, that this practice be surpervised at least until you ascertain your child's tendency to "improvise" instead of doing what he or she has learned in the lab.
In first grade, all the keys are new and fingers are small, so students need to look when they learn new keys. It is important to emphasize looking but not taking fingers off home-row keys except to press the upper and lower row keys. Then they should put their fingers back in their home-row key positions.
Students begin using SpeedSkins (available at speedskin.com) in the middle of first grade. This is a thin membrane that is molded to fit over the keyboard to cover up the letters on the keys. This not only ends "hunting and pecking" but also helps students because it has a raised bump on the "f" key and the"j" key to help students find their way back to home-row keys when they have moved their fingers (for example, to reach the "y" or "b"). These skins were a bit tight for some of our new keyboards and were causing the space bar to get stuck, so we had to discontinue their use beginning in third grade (not possible to erase a bad Mavis Beacon score when this happens). I still highly recommend them for home use where an occasional occurrence like this doesn't matter.
There are many good keyboarding programs available. We use Mavis Beacon in the lab for 3rd through 6th grade and SpongeBob Squarepants Teaches Typing and Typing Instructor in 1st grade and Typing Instructor in 2nd grade. These programs are leveled and have reinforcement games that provide a diversion from straight typing while reinforcing the letters the child has been working to master. There are also free keyboarding programs available on the Internet. They offer less frills and lessons customized to specific student needs but are still functional as a supplement to what we do in the lab.
Sitting up straight and in a comfortable position with relaxed hands and wrists always affects not only rate and accuracy but also the student's ability to practice for any length of time without hands and fingers hurting. Practice on a laptop keyboard is not recommended until the child masters the standard-sized QWERTY keyboard typically used with a PC.
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