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Writing and use of keyboards

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Started by Warren Grieve 08 Apr 2013 6:04pm () Replies (8)

My pupils are draft writing in Google docs, editing and then posting to blogs or publishing books that go home. The blogs are commented on by pupils (same class and overseas classes) and parents. I have received notice that I will need to move back to handwriting their stories as "the written process using pen and paper is an essential way to process information and therefore critical for the learning of every boy. When writing by hand, the movements involved leave an imprint in the part of the brain called the sensorimotor." I am looking into the research more fully myself. Anyone have good thoughts or links? Note we still use paper books for other aspects of writing/ paragraph writing and I just want to get a good balance.


  • Barrie Matthews (View all users posts) 06 Jun 2013 2:56pm ()

    You could try using the Chrome browser and Google Translate to do voice-to-text. Although I haven't been able to get it to work for paragraphs, students could speak one sentence at a time and cut-and-paste into a text file. This limitation could actually help their work flow in that they will probably think and plan their sentences better if they do them one a time with a break between. It could also be a good pairs activity.

    There's a demo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIuz36zF2pc

    If you are using a LEARNZ field trip (www.learnz.org.nz), this could be a good way for students who are slow writers to record their reflections on their learning.

    All that's needed is an Internet connected device with a microphone.

    Hope this helps.


  • Michael Davidson (View all users posts) 30 May 2013 2:06pm ()

    Hi, great discussion going on here. I would be interested to know how you find your children at typing compared to handwriting. I have some children (Mostly boys) who are very slow and messy handwriters and are even slower at typing. We use iPads and Laptops for typing, but I find the speed for their typing to be far too slow and then they don't achieve much. Does anyone have any ideas/apps to help children become more proficient at typing? Or is it the same approach as handwriting, practice and specific teaching / modelling ??

    Thanks, Michael :)

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2013 8:38am ()

    Hi everyone

    This is a very interesting discussion and one that comes up quite regularly with the primary teachers at my school. I did a quick Google Scholar search and came across these articles below that I found quite interesting. (There were others but I chose these two because they had PDFs openly available.)

    Personally, I do think handwriting is still important, particularly for the development of the brain, however I think there are other important skills to be learnt in writing on a computer (or other device). I think if writing stories etc, then why not use a computer with the option of easily editing and so on (I'm sure an NZ teacher blogged about this at some point in the last few years but I cannot remember who).

    The first article is probably most relevant to this discussion as it talks about the impact of handwriting on the development of the brain.

    "How handwriting boosts the brain" (from the Wall Street Journal) http://files.kidblog.org/9386/files/How-Handwriting-Trains-the-Brain.pdf

    "Poor Handwriting: A major cause of underachievement" by Linda Silverman, Ph.D. -- This article doesn't exactly take a different view on the importance of handwriting, but it discusses how it's probably time to move on from penmanship etc. An interesting article. The second half is perhaps a bit more relevant.http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/PDF_files/Articles%20Archive/vsl/v37.pdf



  • Sonja Barneveld (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2013 9:03pm ()

    I guess my response would be - what are we assessing here? I think there is merit in kids learning the physical act of writing. And I'm quite prepared to believe it activates different parts of the brain. But I don't follow the logic that validates it as essential to the writing process. I compose straight to screen all the time. And if we are using a piagetian definition of sensori motor then typing is a sensori motor skill as well. I chose a word in my head then use my hand to select the right keys to create the word. 

    I'm interested in the reference to "boy" in the sentence. I was going to add in here idea of how children - particularly girls play with handwriting style & then recalled my 14 year old son's very artistic signature. As in many debates like this I come back to surely it is a both/and that respects creative written expression benefits from access to multiple tools?

  • Dee Marshall (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2013 8:15pm ()

    Hi Sam

    My writing programme comprises of a variety of rotations, some of these being handwriting, online typing, spelling apps on the iPads, teacher guided writing sessions with follow up tasks etc. 

  • Sam Hamilton (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2013 8:11pm ()

    Some website i found about writing vs typing:




    Now this was just a quick search and not necessarily reliable.

    THis is a very interesting discussion however.  I have thought about both sides of it.  I agree with Dee re: those students who find it difficult to write because of their spelling/fine motor skills.  But i still think it's important for those students to practice spelling and fine motor skills through writing.  But this could be in smaller, focused lessons.  I like the idea about students talking out their stories.  There are a lot of apps out there that students can actually say their stories and the computer types it for them.  

    Another strategy for those who find it difficult to spell, you could get them to not fix their mistakes but use programs that speak back their typing, allowing students to hear their mistakes and then fix their own mistakes.

    I'll be interested to hear other peoples thoughts and ways of working on writing.  In my class we write by hand then publish on cimputers, but this is mainly because we only have 5 computers in class. Perhaps when we have more access to computers i will try more students drafing onto computers.  I guess it's for us so see how the students writing improves (ideas wise) and to see if students can structure quality pieces.

  • Dee Marshall (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2013 7:03pm ()

    Interesting discussion starter! I wonder if there has been consideration in the research to the exposure children have had to the process they take when producing work digitally? By that I mean if children learnt to process information as they were physically writing then wouldn't that just transpose over to how the do it on the keyboard? My class are more motivated to complete tasks using digital devices. Admittedly we are focussing on increasing our speed when typing at the moment, but they have produced a piece of writing successfully recently. I have found that those children that struggle to write because they can not move past not knowing how to spell a word or their fine motor skills prevent them from producing legible work prefer to think it in their heads, say it out loud, type it, then read it back. Have lots more to say here but will stop now lol.

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