Keyboarding Skills and the Common Core

If you’re a K-6er trying to incorporate the grade-specific Common Core State Standards (CCSS), you’ve probably noticed an interesting skillset nestled within anchor standard W.CCR.6: keyboarding!

That’s right!

While I spoke about W.CCR.6 as an anchor standard in this post, I didn’t delve into the grade-specific standards contained within it, and therefore I didn’t really get into keyboarding.

But if you teach grades 3-6, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Take a look:

  • Grade 3: With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
  • Grade 4: With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.
  • Grade 5: With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
  • Grade 6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.

So what exactly do these standards mean? To get the discussion started, I’ll use some questions that Matt asked in response to my W.CCR.6 post.

What is considered “a page” and “a single sitting”?

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, one principle in developing the CCSS was to leave the standards vague enough to allow for flexibility at local levels. Because of this, you see very few mandated texts in the CCSS, and you also see very little direction in how instruction should look in a CCSS-aligned classroom.

So in trying to define what the authors consider a page or a single sitting, I’m seeing a classic case of intentional ambiguity here. To me, it seems wise for individual states or school districts to define a page and a single sitting. And, if you want my two cents, I’d recommend using a word count to define a page, and I’d set an amount of minutes for a single sitting.

What kind of keyboarding is this?

Are we talking about keying in a previously composed document, or are we saying that these single-sitting sessions are to include the entire composition process (e.g., pre-writing, organizing, editing)?

Though I’m very open to being challenged here, my gut says the keyboarding is meant to be done in a single sitting, whereas the other skills mentioned (use of technology, publishing, interacting, and collaborating) could occur over multiple days or even weeks.

Though I appreciate that the CCSS authors have simplified reading and writing down to 10 standards apiece, the fact is that, in many cases, they have only done this by condensing multiple skills into a single standard, as is the case here.

Why does keyboarding disappear from W.CCR.6 after 6th grade?

Ambitiously, the David Coleman and company seem to be expecting that, once students are promoted to seventh grade, they have successfully mastered keyboarding to an extent that it no longer needs to be taught. Honestly, I think this is awesome, but, having never taught keyboarding, I don’t know if it’s attainable or not.

I do know that my two-year old has been successfully accessing Angry Birds and flinging birds the wrong way for the past six months. I don’t know if this means she’s capable of mastering the keyboard by the time she’s 11.

My gut says that, if she starts working on it in third grade like the standards suggest, she can probably pwn it by the time she’s a seventh grader.

Thoughts?

What implications does this have for high school business departments?

It seems to me that, when we start getting students who have experienced an adequate K-8 implementation of the CCSS, we’ll see high school business courses either ceasing to exist or, much more preferably, going much, much deeper into computer-based business skills.

What are other folks discovering as they seek to grapple with and implement these keyboarding standards? Use the comments section to get a rockin’ convo going.

Like the non-freaked out approach?
Subscribe to updates and get my free ebook.
We hate spam just as much as you

, , , , ,

22 Responses to Keyboarding Skills and the Common Core

  1. Mary Clark October 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Our elementary school used to teach keyboarding. Students had to earn a certificate for typing 30 wpm to move onto the “more fun” stuff, according to my daughter. We stopped teaching it years ago. I now work with middle schoolers who have to be told to use both hands on the keyboard, or who use one finger of each hand, circling said hand slowly over the keys while hunting for the letter they need. In 2014, we’re going to do all our CCSS assessments online! It will be interesting to see what sort of essays these students can hammer out during a timed assessment. I’ve added lots of keyboarding games to my library website, but they still aren’t as fun as the Google Earth flight simulator they’re all using this month.

    • davestuartjr October 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      Hi Mary,

      Yes–interesting is right! I’m intrigued that your elementary schools went FROM keyboarding instruction to…. something else? It seems that they were perhaps ahead of their time!

      I agree with you–the computer-based assessments will put students to the test. Perhaps a lack of keyboarding proficiency is partially to blame for the low 2011 NAEP writing scores that coincided with the first time the test was offered via computer? My students have been grappling with this question, among others, posed by Esther Cepeda’s great article: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IolQxHTw_UBOv0c9OT56Bl3x0iXBMm7Cy8EZtaIKXUA/edit

      Thanks for the comment, Mary!

    • Carol Herberholz June 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

      Would you share your keyboarding games with me.

    • Michael Clark October 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Mary – Michael Clark, education reporter with Cincinnati Enquirer and I’m doing a story on how elementary teachers are reacting to this Common Core change re: keyboarding skills being taught to grades 3-6. Can you please email asap at mclark@enquirer.com?
      And any other elementary teachers wanting to toss me some comments please feel free.
      Especially teachers in Ohio and Kentucky. Thanks so much.

  2. Celeste October 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Dear Dave,

    I really enjoyed your article on the Common Core, it’s exciting to see how this is changing the way we teach and am so glad that the Common Core is being implemented in schools across the US.

    My company has just developed some new CCSS courses, and I would love to have you check them out. Click here: http://www.teacherstep.com/

    We have developed courses by Teachers for Teachers; and they are fantastic as they teach how to apply the new Common Core State Standards in the classroom and awards 3 graduate credits per course.
    Hope to hear back from you soon, my email address is below.

    And thank you so much – your articles are inspiring!
    Warmest Regards,
    -The TeacherStep Team
    celeste@teacherstep.com

    • davestuartjr October 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Dear Celeste,
      Thanks for bringing my attention to the resources and classes at http://www.teacherstep.com. I would love to check them out and I will email you to discuss this further.

  3. georginafarmer February 1, 2013 at 12:02 am #

    Dear Dave,

    Great news. No way should the learning of keyboarding be spread over years. You should learn what finger hits what key fast and, then, this new learning should be put into practice immediately and intensely until your brain “gets it”.

    Let me explain: keyboarding is a muscle-memory skill, like riding a bicycle. The first time you use the keyboard, the brain co-ordinates all the perceptive, cognitive and physical brain cells needed to do this activity. When you repeat this activity over and over, the brain cells involved reach out and connect with each other forming a neural pathway which, eventually, becomes part of your brain.

    It’s the continual and constant “doing” of keyboarding that builds the muscle memory required for students to keyboard automatically without thinking about it. You can’t be half-hearted, you need to throw yourself into it and give it all you’ve got. It’s only for a short space of time and the reward at the end is amazing. Once you attain “automaticity”, you can’t forget this skill, even if you try, you’ve got it for life! How good is that?

    The Nail It Now keyboarding method splits the keyboard in two, it’s easier to learn one side at a time. Then, a fun sentence for each home row (eg Animals in the Snow Dig for Food like Grass) and five up and down linkages (eg Food Raw Vegetables and Food Teddy Biscuits) . . . and you have learned the left side of the keyboard in around 35 minutes.

    You practice on any computer with Microsoft Word (or any other word processing program) and you type words, not random letters, words with regularly-repeated letters, bee, beech, beef, been, beep, fantastic for keyboarding practice. When you are comfortable with the left side, you learn the right.

    You can revise the keyboard aloud or in your head in a waiting room, walking the dog, preparing dinner, it all builds muscle memory. A teacher recently reported “It went nicely; the kids have been walking around saying “animals in the snow dig for food” like a chant. It is very sweet”. Then, you graduate to “doing” your daily “real” computer work, emails, instant messages, the lot. More muscle memory building! Pretty soon, you “get” it and never forget it.

    This way the keyboarding Common Core standards would be a “breeze” for elementary students and their productivity would be doubled. I would love you to check it out and let me know what you think. The left side is free for everyone to give it a good “go” http://www.nailitnow.com.au/typingtutor/previewchildren/freedemo.html

    Thanks, Dave

    Cheers,
    Georgie (short for Georgina
    Nail It Now
    georgie@nailitnow.com.au

    • davestuartjr February 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Georgie, thanks so much for such a high quality response. Your comment simply makes this post 100 times more awesome. Thanks so much — I’ll be re-tweeting this post soon to draw attention to your addition!

    • MauBak November 20, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

      Are you taking developmental abilities into consideration? We start key recognition in 1st grade and build on it until 3rd grade when they start on an actual keyboarding program. Most tech teachers only see kids once a week and have to reiterate the skills over and over. Kids generally don;t practice “keyboarding” at home…they play games. I incorporate some keyboarding games into my lesson so it feels good to the kids because trust me, if it isn’t fun…they don’t want to do it. I agree with the author’s description of ambiguity in what constitues a “page” and a “single sitting”. By that limited definition, you could increase the font size to 100 and type 10 words on a page. There needs to be a prescripted definition of what a “page” is…font size, spacing and even font face.

      • davestuartjr November 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

        Maubak, thanks for sharing! I’m intrigued by the key recognition work you’re doing — what does that look like?

  4. georginafarmer February 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Thanks Dave, I appreciate it, I am trying to get the word out and not finding it easy, I keep hitting bureaucratic “brick walls”. All I ask is that the Nail It Now keyboarding method is tried in the classroom. The whole left side is free and it would only take 35 minutes. Teachers who do try it love it.

    It costs nothing to listen and it costs nothing to try a product. If education bureaucrats see all sales people as marketing pests, they will miss out on something wonderful.

    How wonderful it would be if every student could touch type by the start of Grade 4. It’s not going to happen with traditional software methods.

    Currently, young children spend a couple of years in the early grades playing keyboarding software “familiarization” games with two fingers. Then, all of a sudden, in Grades 3 or 4, they are expected to drop this bad habit like a hot potato and learn to keyboard correctly. Easier said than done. By this time, two-finger keyboarding is so firmly entrenched, the students think it is the only way to use the keyboard.

    So, how to nip entrenched two-finger keyboarding in the bud? Well, there’s a simple and easy solution, cover the keys. This will stop two-finger typing dead in its tracks. The kids won’t like it but, if they look at the keys, they learn NOTHING! Schools would be amazed at how many students in all grades come to a full stop if the keys are covered.

    Students hate the bulky, unwieldy plastic covers and so do I, they should be comfortable keyboarding. Instead, I recommend placing removable, adhesive dots on the 30 main keys and coloring the “bump” keys F and J to help students place their fingers correctly. You can buy sheets of these dots at any newsagency.

    The dots are in place, now the older students are ready, if not particularly willing, to learn “proper” keyboarding. The method used needs to immediately grab their interest. The Nail It Now colorful PowerPoint slides for Grades 3-6 get down to business straightaway, the keyboard is split into two easy sides, a fun sentence is assigned to the Home row and five up and down association words for each side.

    The students learn the whole keyboard and correct finger use in two lessons. All the teacher has to do is project each slide, in turn, onto a wall. The students open Microsoft Word (or any other word processing program) and start keyboarding words, not random letters, straightaway.

    Then, practice, practice, practice to get those brain cells reaching out and connecting, first, the Nail It Now confidence-building exercises and, then, “real” computer work, instant messaging, etc. Recently, a customer called Joe ”did” the left side and exercises but, busy at work, stopped. To his amazement, he found his left fingers were automatically finding the keys. He’d “got it” and didn’t know it. Needless to say, he made the time to learn the right side!

    Dave, I love information about stuff. I hope you do too because I have written heaps. The Nail It Now PowerPoint slides for Grades 3-6 are at this link http://www.nailitnow.com.au/typingtutorlicence/highergradeelementary/how.html

    Cheers
    Georgie (short for Georgina
    Nail It Now
    georgie@nailitnow.com.au

  5. School October 12, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Our school is using TypngAgent this year. It is a web-based program. We have not evaluated it’s effectiveness yet, but the students seem to enjoy it. You can hear a pin-drop in the room as the students are concentrating on their assigned tasks. They are motivated to learn.

  6. M October 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    I find that the schools somehow expect kids to learn how to type without really teaching them. My daughter’s 5th grade teacher announced that the kids would need to type assignments this year. I asked when they would be taught how to type – the response was “we don’t teach them”. I have talked with other parents who have the same problem. The schools provide sporadic time in a computer lab to use a typing program, but it isn’t enough to make the kids proficient.

    • davestuartjr October 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

      M, this is nuts — Common Core seems to make it pretty clear that schools need to get on this, but I think in many schools it’s kind a systemic gap — there aren’t keyboarding classes in some schools, or simply throwing the kids at a program every now and then (like what you’re mentioning) is considered a solution. I learned keyboarding during a semester of strictly enforced “no look” keyboarding instruction.

      It sucked, but I thank God for that class 19 years later as I type this comment at a proficient rate! I’d be writing my principal and then working my way up the ladder on this one until it gets addressed. No one in their right mind can argue typing isn’t important.

    • Michael Clark October 30, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

      Please contact me for a story I’m doing this week.
      Michael Clark, education reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. I’d like to get some elementary school parents reaction to the growing requirement for keyboarding skills at younger grades. Thanks so much.
      mclark@enquirer.com

  7. Sarah O'Leary October 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    While I kind of surprise myself to say “yay” to a new standard and “yay” to more tech time in the elementary classroom this is one change I can really get behind.
    I have struggled and argued for 5 years in I&RS, 504 and IEP meetings for dedicated class time to go to keyboard instruction for my 2 boys who have extreme writing challenges. We’ve been told repeatedly (and as recently as 2 weeks ago), “Are you kidding? We don’t do that. Wait ’til high school. They will have to learn that at home, etc.”
    Now I feel I have a new tack to take. There is a mandate for this instruction. If common sense was not enough to convince them that being able to produce meaningful (and legible) writing is an imperative perhaps Common Core will.

    • davestuartjr September 29, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Sarah, I hope this tack worked! Keyboarding isn’t going to go away as a critical life skill for all kids to master!

  8. redkayak October 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    Currently I am teaching middle school technology. Most sixth grade students come in with poor keyboarding skills. Many students make uppercase letters by hitting the CapsLock key, typing the letter, and hitting CapsLock again. They hit the space bar with their forefinger. I have one student who uses the technique of leaning on her left arm and typing with her right forefinger. I mentioned this to her parents at open house and her mother told me I won’t break her of that habit and she knows many pharmacists who use two finger typing every day. After twelve weeks of prompting her she will at least use the forefinger on both hands.

    They don’t have time to spend on keyboarding in the lower grades. They get computer time one class a week. In between they are at home using the computer with their own techniques. Our superintendent told me at one time that they should have keyboarding under control by second grade! We have a long way to go.

    • Michael Clark October 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      May I use your comments for a story I’m doing on the coming implementation of keyboarding standards for elementary students?
      If so, what is your name and school you teach at please?
      Many thanks.
      Michael Clark
      education reporter
      Cincinnati Enquirer

      • Carrie Shaw January 27, 2014 at 11:58 am #

        Michael, If you are looking for comments about a proven keyboarding program I would be happy to send you information.
        I have been selling a very unique educator developed typing program called Keyboard Classroom for over 16 years now.
        Along with educators at the Ben Bronz Academy in West Hartford, Connecticut, we’ve studied children in various learning environments for over two decades, watching and developing methods to improve their learning process. We’ve paid specific attention to children with attention problems, special education needs, and learning disabilities and concluded that young people with and without these learning issues, can succeed more effectively through the use of computers for drill and practice. And when they learn to touch type, they are able to channel their focus on what they’re learning. Their fingers actually become an unwitting extension of their brains!
        The Common Core may be giving our teachers the Standards- but teachers/parents need to choose the Curriculum!
        Students NEED to learn how to proficiently type starting in 3rd grade! Learn about our reputable and proven program called Keyboard Classroom.

  9. J. Pratt May 13, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    It is so heartwarming to know I’m not the only one that feels that keyboarding is important! Parents along with administrators feel that it isn’t. I scringe when I see students using two fingers and any finger to hit the spacebar, backspace key, tab key, etc. I’ve been fighting this for a very long time and it has caused me to be shifted all over the place to different schools. However, I still stand firm that is what is exactly needed in our elementary schools. So I’m glad that CCSS has started to incorporate this. The only thing is subjects like keyboarding, music, art, spanish, physical education is not needed to pass on to the other grade so the students really don’t take the class seriously!!

    Ms. J
    US Virgin Island

  10. Carrie Shaw September 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    I have been teaching keyboarding skills to students for the past 15 years. The only typing program that taught my kids how to type successfully within 4-6 months was Keyboard Classroom (www.keyboardclassroom.com). This skill is NOT to be fooled around with!

Leave a Reply