Typing classes in school. This seems to be a topic I am hearing more and more people talk about in school and in our community. I just had a conversation last night about it with some of my friends who were reminiscing about their school experience. Everyone agreed that the most valuable class they took was typing, which was often an elective. It is a skill that they still use today and is a great time saver. Everyone also agreed that it is unfortunate that it is not taught in school today and something that mostly everyone was teaching their own kids at home. I always laugh at my students and my own kids at how amazed they are when they watch me type on the computer. They are truly in awe at the speed I type, that I don't need to look at the letters and my fingers, and that it is all right on the screen! Well, I've had a lot of years of practice!
It seems like with all of the new standards and state testing requirements, typing is something that has fallen to the wayside. While most of us took it in high school, today it seems like it is a skill required at a much younger age. Most of today's students employ the "hunt and peck method" to type. In an effort to "publish" our spooky Halloween stories that we had written, I attempted to have my 5th grade resource room students type them on the computer. I allotted 3 days of classtime to do this and only 1 of 4 students was able to finish it! The students were excited to type on the computer but it was an extremely SLOW process. The student who did finish was a great typer who had learned it from her mom and played typing games on the computer at home. She even tried to help the other students by typing their stories. We also had one student save his story but when we went back the next day, it was missing. We were told that "it must not have saved correctly" and he needed to start again. I ended up abandoning the typing of the stories because I just couldn't devote any more time to the project, needing to move on to other assignments and writing pieces.
Unfortunately, I think that this is the reason why typing is often abandoned in school. Especially in the age of iPads, texting and smartphones which require the "hunt and peck" method of typing. Students have become very fluent and quick in 2 finger, or thumb, typing but it unfortunately doesn't translate to the keyboard. There are many times that my daughter wants to study her vocabulary or spelling words online but needs to type them in first. She tries to do it herself but gets frustrated since it takes so long and feels that it is taking study time away just trying to type it all in. At first, I thought that her typing the information was helping her learn. Maybe it did for spelling but for vocabulary, she was concentrating so much on typing the right letters that she was not retaining the information. I end up typing it in for her to save time and frustration. Fortunately, I was relieved to hear that my daughter's Creative Writing teacher has been taking some classtime to have the students practice their typing skills using online typing games. With the computer PARCC testing on the horizon for New Jersey, I think our students will definitely need to know how to type so they can quickly get their thoughts out on the screen and not waste all of their time just trying to find the letters on the keyboard, and possibly not connecting or organizing their thoughts.
I will be very interested to see how student's abillity to type will effect their performance on the PARCC test. There are so many things to teach our students to prepare for state testing and I hope this does not impact their ability to succeed. I am glad to hear that there are parents working at home with their children as well as teachers in school providing the basics to preparing their students and make the transition to the computer that much easier.