Typing on a computer is a skill that many of us take for granted. For people who use the skill every day, whether it’s sending emails, typing a report or writing a story for the local newspaper, hitting the proper keys has become second nature.
District 13 officials recognize that it’s not just important for students to know how to type, but how to type correctly. That means setting their fingers on the a, s, d, f, j, k, l, and ; keys to start, using their thumbs to make spaces and maintaining good posture while at the computer.
A new program in the district this year, EasyTech Keyboarding, teaches children the important skill that school officials say is crucial for their future success. Students can work independently, in school or at home, to better their keyboarding skills. They learn which fingers to use to hit specific keys.
“It’s so they’re efficient as possible,” said Nancy Sferrazza, a sixth-grade teacher at the Willow Road School, “and they’re not doing that hunt and peck that they’re so used to.”
Once a week, Sferrazza, like other fifth- and sixth-grade teachers throughout the district, brings her students to the school’s computer lab so they can work on their keyboarding. “Sit up straight, feet flat on the floor,” she instructed them at the beginning of one class, reminding them to turn off the number, scroll and caps locks.
The students put on their headphones and pick up where they left off the previous week. Sferrazza said the program is good because it allows the children to work at their own pace. “They can go as fast or as slowly as they need to complete the assignment,” she said.
Many students come in familiar with a keyboard because they text on their phones, but don’t know proper technique because that is primarily done with their thumbs. With texting, children also don’t pay much attention to punctuation and capitalization, skills they learn through the keyboarding program.
Superintendent Dr. Adrienne Robb-Fund said that adding the program was important with the implementation of the new Common Core Learning Standards this year, which focuses on 21st century skills. “Keyboarding in 2012 is a basic skill for our students,” she said. “There’s barely a job that doesn’t require keyboarding skills.”
Additionally, she said it is important that students enter the high school district knowing proper keyboarding technique. There, she said, students will be doing many research papers that will need to be typed.
Sixth-grader Ryan Badello said he has already noticed an improvement in his skills after a few months of keyboarding instruction. He knows how to find the bars on the “f” and “j” keys to anchor his fingers. “It’s helping me type a lot faster for when I’m doing things on the computer like essays and projects,” he said.
Ryan, who added that he can now type 98 words per minute according to the program, said he plays a lot of online games at home that requires typing messages to other players.
Daniela Giliberti, a sixth-grader, said typing used to confuse her when she didn’t know the proper technique, and her hands would be all over the place. “The neatest way to type is to just put your hands in the correct spots,” he said.
Sferrazza said her students will put their new skills to good use later in the year when they do reports on the Seven Wonders of the World and Greek gods and goddesses, as well as persuasive writing assignments. Knowing proper techniques, she said, can actually save them time.
She said the program, which is interactive, motivates the children. “I feel like it is teaching them better typing,” she said. “They also like to challenge themselves to see how they can improve. They want to do well.”