How to introduce assistive technology if they don’t know how to assist themselves?
I just had an interesting conversation with a colleague about introducing formal typing skills at the kindergarten level. Something I have definitely thought about, but haven’t pursued. She was talking about the challenge of teaching older primary students who need assistive technology, but who do not know how to use it to its fullest abilities. For example, they are able to use the touch screen functions for selection, but have difficulty using the iPad or computer to type out their work instead of writing it by hand. For students with printing difficulties, this is a helpful skill to have. Although there are many benefits to using a speech-to-text program, many new roadblocks are encountered if the student is not able to use the keyboard beyond the one finger point.
What is my role as a kindergarten teacher with regards to computer skills?
Currently, my students are taught mouse skills, so that they are able to successfully play games on the computer. iPads are new to my program this year, and I am navigating through ways to best use this technology with my young learners. We completed a fun book-making project that involved them taking pictures of shapes around the school, and the SKs use apps that I have selected. The physical keyboard and the touch-screen keyboard have not even been introduced!
There are professionals who are adamant that keyboarding is not taught in Kindergarten (see, “Just say ‘no’ to keyboarding in kindergarten” by Rae Pica), but there are a multitude of games, apps and programs that are geared for just that purpose. Do I introduce typing to students who are still mastering printing, or leave it for later years?
How do I help my students?
The Ontario curriculum does not offer formal typing skills until Grade 9, and I strongly feel that this is too late. Students are expected to produce typed products in elementary school, and old habits can be hard to break. I would be curious to learn about the ways educators around the province are tackling this hurdle.
Although I do not think I will be pursuing this topic for my action plan, I am definitely going to be reflecting more upon how I can provide the building blocks for students of all abilities to use technology to success in all of it’s forms. Perhaps games that encourage the students to locate keys on the keyboard, or typing their names makes the most sense for students this age. An informal introduction without talking about the ‘home row.’
The biggest point that resonated with me in the article by Rae Pica was the importance of formally developing fine-motor skills. So I think it’s time for me venture over to Pinterest, and grab some ice cube trays, tweezers and pom poms!
Jessica, the reason there is a multitude of games, apps and programs that are geared for keyboarding for kindergartners is because the companies that make them don’t care about what’s developmentally appropriate; they only care about making a buck. (Pardon my cynicism, but I’ve been around long enough to acquire it!)
I applaud your chice to grab some ice cube trays, tweezers and pom poms! (No surprise there, huh?)
Rae, it’s a shame, but I definitely agree with you! It is so hard for parents and even educators to sort through what is research-based and what is created to fuel consumerism. Thanks for stopping by – I loved your article!
An every debated topic of when to introduce typing. I have done some research and it seems that Grade 3/4 seems to be when it is developmentally appropriate to introduce touch typing. Prior to this age they do not have the hand span to properly reach the various keys and positioning.
This year we are using “Typing Club” (http://www.typingclub.com/) to introduce some formal skills to our Jr. Division (Grade 4-6) as they are introduced to 1-to-1 laptops in Grade 5. The kids seem to be enjoying the step-by-step program and it is determinately much quicker getting tasks typed than in previous years.
That you for introducing your research and passing along that link! I will certainly share this with my colleagues.
Wow, having a son in SK and being trained in Primary/Junior, I respect so greatly what you do with your young learners! Such a great conversation!
As someone who teaches in the SR grades these days, I have to agree with you wholeheartedly that Gr. 9 is TOO LATE!! I have students who hen peck the keyboard and I just feel badly for them since it takes so long for them to do anything in the digital realm.
I use dictation on a Mac and I think it’s incredible how far it has come. I know it’s not perfect but if you have Ipads, it’s getting there…
I love that @marcielewis has jumped in here with her own research to offer a comment. It’s so great when stars from C21s original crew are still holding strong and contributing to C21s newest group. It’s so great to have a wealth of experience and research to learn from in our PLN!!
Thank you for your comment, Derek! I am eager to use dictation with the iPad and I am anticipating it will become part of my action plan. I love all of the ideas from the Cohort 21 network – it’s fascinating to see what great educators are thinking about and doing in their classrooms!
You bring up some incredible questions here! And while Kindie is not my area of expertise, I think your wonderings make me ask: do we really know as teachers what is developmentally appropriate pedagogy?
I’m going to share this post with a former Cohort 21 member Laura Johnson who is a Kindergarden teacher at The Mabin School. She is brilliant and has lots of incredible knowledge about technology and the young, developing brain. Hopefully she can share some her thoughts / experience on the subject.
Thanks, Celeste! I think we strive to follow developmentally appropriate pedagogy, but can be difficult to sift through to find research-based practice!