Log in

Teaching kids typing skills??

Started by Tash Jacobs 16 Sep 2014 9:11am () Replies (47)

A collegue and I were chatting recently about the debate over need to teach our students handwriting in this new fast changing digital world.  We ended up pondering and debating over the question..

Should we be teaching our students to touch type from an early age?

Since this discussion I have watched several older students typing away somewhat inefficiently with their two finger styles (which are now so embedded as to be hard to change).  

We would be really interested to know what others are thinking and doing around this topic.


  • Tash Jacobs (View all users posts) 19 Sep 2014 2:05pm ()

    So many thought provoking notions throughout this discussion...Thank you for the link to the New York Times Janet.  This resonated well with me because, although I am digitally competent and love my devices, I prefer to take notes with pen and paper.  How interesting to read about all the ways our brain makes different pathways and the possible impacts in the longterm.

    Jill I think your final comment says it in a nutshell...

    'Assess what students are gaining and or losing through the activities with which we fill their day.'

    Teaching as Inquiry is such a wonderful place to GROW from.

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 19 Sep 2014 2:20pm ()

     Throwing a spanner in the mix... 

    "...students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard."

    Are these studies focused on knowledge and memory?  We know that knowledge is atainable easily in the 21st, and its the process of learning and how we learn that is the most important aspect in education.  It will be intersting to see the creativity aspect of the brain and see if this side is 'alight'.  

  • Warren Grieve (View all users posts) 19 Sep 2014 5:48pm ()

    I get pupils in my Year 5 to learn touch-typing and handwrite as well. I figure both are important. We draft some stories by hand but certainly on the computer I get a lot more editing of work than when we do it by hand. I never draft by hand these days... my poetry I write straight into my phone!

    Comments on some of the handwriting is better research: The note taking research had a few holes in it. Mind-mapping notes on a computer would be probably a way to better engage the mind in a lecture than copying adfinitum (it would also be closer to what people were oing by handwriting)d. Whynot just watch a video of the lecture.

  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 19 Sep 2014 6:45pm ()

    Totally agree Warren

    If you want to find evidence pro or con, you just have to interpret the data.  

    Using twitter, watching video, while screencasting to other classrooms in parts of the world would be far better than writing it down with pen and paper.  

  • Abbie (View all users posts) 21 Sep 2014 12:14pm ()

    Read this post and suddenly thought about the various replies I have read and written...

    1. What year group(s) do you teach? 
    2. How is this impacting your view of handwriting v digital? 
    3. What other research exists regarding handwriting versus digital notes?
    4. What importance does the purpose of the lesson have when determining the method?
    5.  Given the choice, which option would our students opt for? 
    6. How much of our responses are impacted by the digital tools we have readily available, and those that our community and students have access to?

    Hieroglyphics were also mentioned earlier in this discussion thread. If we get to the point of no handwriting (or handwriting as an art form, does this not return our existing 'letters' to the status of more developed hieroglyphics...things that are 'drawn' rather than 'written'?

    p.s. My present context is semi-rural, junior students where a number of farmers still have to pay $150 plus for 5 or so gigs of  wireless. This definately affects my viewpoint. I have also taught in an intermediate school in town. 


  • Hamish McLean (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2014 2:36pm ()

    100% with you in they Mrs H. 

    I applied for a job three years ago,  submitted via eCV (electronic Curriculum Vitea) the school responded saying they require a physical copy.  I suggested they print it out,  but they still wanted one sent.  I said I was no longer interested in the job.  

    We really need to ensure we facilitate education to best suite students future needs.  I agree that it's hard to imagine the future,  but we can see patterns and trends that help indicate what will be irrelevant. 

  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2014 2:53pm ()

    Thanks Hamish and thanks everyone for my Sunday reading. I'm no closer to knowing whether it is okay to ditch handwriting completely but I rather think we are not all ready for that. As an individual learner, however:

    • I love that my OCD side can produce a neat piece of writing.
    • I write (create text) more than ever in my life before.
    • i write for authentic audiences around the globe.
    • My writing is purposeful and the need to write is owned by me.
    • I can collaborate on text in real time with people who are geographically distant.
    • My desk has less paper on it for me to file (not really) and I can locate items more easily.
    • My individual learning needs are being met with self chosen tools.
    • I can access material to read from my house on any topic.

    Please don't make me do typing drills! Yuck! Please understand that I need to own my learning and that it's not about how you think I should do it! Happy hols everyone. 

  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2014 6:13pm ()

    After my day reading around this I've written - typed that is - a blog post: http://likeahoginmud.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-great-debate-to-type-or-to-hand.html

  • Shanna (View all users posts) 29 Sep 2014 1:16pm ()

    Hmm...I have to admit handwrting is my nemesis! 

    I teach Littles...Year 1-2 and everyday we have a 15 minute phonics session where I focus deeply on printing letters and numbers correctly.....but on a whiteboard. I feel this session adequately provides for printing and supports the core reasons I believe printing should be taught.

    So no...I have no evidence of this session other than my planning (and my learners writing abilities)...but should I teach and practice printing to provide evidence? My inner passionate teacher says no....

    I struggle to find time in a super busy day already, where we are trying to focus on developing independent learning skills and management, to squeeze in that 10 minutes to provide some printing on paper evidence.

    Shanna (frustrated printer Smile)

  • Thomas Bigge (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2015 2:31pm ()

    Hey, I thought I would throw in my 2 cents here. We are a primary school that has just made the transition to 1 to 1 Chromebooks in our Year 6 class. After much consultation with our community, it was clear that parents were concerned that students would suffer if handwriting was no longer taught. They also made it clear that they thought touch typing would be beneficial for students. In light of this, we have decided to teach both. We alternate between teaching handwriting and touch typing. 

    As a teacher I think this is quite effective. Students express that they enjoy the calming nature of handwriting and some prefer to write that way too. With the touch typing, it is good to do it in class. Students need constant reminding that it is technique not speed to begin with, technique comes first, speed later. They generally want to type fast and this alway compromises their technique. It also provides us with the opportunity to talk about posture and how we should sit when using a Chromebook. 

    We use typingclub.com - there are freemium and premium options. 


  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 17 Feb 2016 7:39am ()

    Freakonomics Radio recently created an episode entitled, Who needs handwriting? [the audio and a transcript is available from the link]

    The introduction states:

    The digital age is making pen and paper seem obsolete. But what are we giving up if we give up on handwriting?

    There are several perspectives given throughout the interviews about whether we need to continue with handwriting in schools. Some people like handwriting and couldn't live without it. Some people very rarely write.

    One interesting perspective was that if students can't write/read cursive script then they won't be able to read the founding documents (of USA). I wonder if people here share that perspective?

Join this group to contribute to discussions.