Taking the Fun Way to the Home Row
My 1st-grade students are beginning to work on identifying and using the home row keys. During our first lesson this year, we gathered on the carpet to review finger placement and watched the tutorial from the Keyboarding Kickstart game. I modeled placing my fingers on the home row using our document camera, then sent students off to their computers and asked them to begin with the Home Row game.
The kids were off and buzzing, getting logged into their devices. Managing the home row is quite a task for those little fingers. They’re still developing the fine motor skills and dexterity to get those fingers matched up on the right keys. I stood back and watched as the room went from furrowed brows, tongues sticking out of the corners of mouths, and utter concentration, to expressions of sheer delight!
I watched them celebrate their success as their determination and perseverance mastered level after level. They started with using one hand at a time, then added the other hand. At this level, we don’t expect students to use proper finger placement to key letters, but having a visual model of the hand helped them “know” where their hands were without having to look. The kids were thrilled with all of the stars they’d earned, and couldn’t wait to move on.
After giving them time to stretch their comfort zone, I allowed them to switch and choose one of the other games from the second module of TypeTastic. Each kid was able to self-evaluate and differentiate. They moved to a game that matched their ability level and also met the objective for that day.
My 2nd-graders begin the year with some of the same games as the 1st-graders, but at this level we expect them to start mastering the home row and using the proper technique. I show the tutorial again to remind students of the technique they should use when typing, again focusing on a single hand to meet our goal of “using the right hand to key letters on the right side of the keyboard” and vice versa.
My older students use a program called EduTyping, but I use TypeTastic as an end-of-class reward. It’s a welcome break from typing line after line of copy. My 2nd– through 5th-graders particularly like puzzle-based games. They tend not to mind the typing aspect because they’re more focused on solving each puzzle.
For all of our primary learners, learning to type is more than a question of manual dexterity; it also helps them learn their alphabet. For the students I work with in particular, it helps with capital and lowercase matching. The devices we use have lowercase-only keyboards, so I definitely appreciate having a way to help students learn to match capital and lowercase partners.
October is Digital Citizenship Month, so we focused on that during the majority of our tech time last month, but we still have our “typing 10” during each class. Students look forward to playing games as they continue to build the typing skills that they’ll all need sooner rather than later.