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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.


  • 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?

  • 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. 


  • 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)

  • Nathaniel Louwrens (View all users posts) 29 Sep 2014 8:49am ()

    hahaha - I'm not sure about my rationale either!!! Cool

    Was just a random thought I had! I'm surprised that no one really pulled my up on the fact that you don't need to handwrite to form a big SOS in the sand using sticks/rocks etc. You only need to know what the letters look like and be able to form them in some way.

  • 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

  • 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. 

  • 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 2:21pm ()

    i am with you Shane. Hooray!

  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2014 2:18pm ()

    So true! It's more important to teach the best form of communication!

    All I'm hearing here is tool tool tool - all based on personal belief rather than real future-focussed reasons. Um...and not sure about Nathaniel's rationale about being marooned on a desert island. 

    Until we have equity and can easily access digital devices, there is a place for learning to print the letters - but not mindless drills. 

    Can I have some real research please into use of fine motor skills maybe? Or effect on reading?

    I return to one of Jill's earlier statements. Is it more about our reluctance to accept change?

  • Annemarie Hyde (View all users posts) 28 Sep 2014 2:06pm ()

    I agree that there is a place if there is a purpose. I only heard to aid other classroom skills though, not bigger purpose. 

    In my youth, we were asked for handwritten applications. If the job requires that skill all well and good. I would question whether I wanted to work for someone not using the tools we have access to now.

    I'm also hearing "they." Where is the place of choice of tools and meeting needs of individual learners in your classes?

    As a "Twitter" fiend, I question that handwriting alone creates the need for pithy epithets!

    I'm being nit picky I know but I'm enjoying reading all these posts which I've left for my Sunday reading!

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