I was hoping not to make this a place to lament and vent, but I am feeling the need today. I am already settling into the PARCC Blues which I am quite sure is a diagnosis that needs treatment.
We were all on chromebooks today working on writing and I was noticing just how many students were hunting and pecking the computer keys. For the last 15 minutes of class, I asked the kids to sign in to Typing Pal and do some practicing. We start PARCC testing right after our break next week and it is all on line this year. I will admit that I had a short moment of panic – had I prepared my kids to do their best? Not if their typing skills today were any indication!
So, we log in to Typing Pal and I have 5 kids tell me that they have graduated. Cool! So I give them the Kirk test, learned in 7th grade typing class back on the 80’s. I hold a piece of paper over their hands as they try to type what is on the screen – AND THEY CAN’T DO IT!!! They didn’t learn how to type with Typing Pal, they just learned how to hunt and peck really, really fast.
So, here’s the dilemma of the day. Does is really matter? Does it matter that they hunt and peck and use just one hand or just two fingers? Would it really make a difference on their PARCC testing if they could type 80 words a minute? And if it would make a difference, did I really prepare them well? Isn’t there a better way to teach typing?
I ended class by teaching them all to type the word ‘the’. We did it correctly 5 times looking at the keyboard and then I had them close their eyes and type it as many times as they could. It’s about muscle memory.
So where does the onus lie in teaching typing (or handwriting or cursive or the correct way to hold a pencil)? When I get them in 5th grade, I would like to think that they have learned the correct way to type. And if they haven’t, does it really matter if they have adapted to a way that works for them? And what if they way is still painfully slow? It is just one more way that the divide widens between the ‘has the computer at home’ and the ‘hasn’t a computer at home’.
I need to stop. The PARCC Blues have me in their grip and I am winding down that path of despair.