Is Keyboarding a Dying Art

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Recently, while having a debate with my son who insists that now that iPods and cellphones are on the scene, the need for keyboarding is unnecessary, I read an article from a business teacher, no doubt, whose sentiments on this subject were closely aligned with his.

My questions then is, should business teachers still require students to learn to key by touch?  I say YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!  Maybe I’m of a dying breed of business teachers, but I think students should learn to key by touch so that they are able to increase their productivity while typing.  Sure, you start out slow, but with practice your speed increases.  I can’t say the same for what I call–”hunting and pecking.”  My son would say he differs with that because he no longer uses eight fingers and one thumb to type and his typing speed rivals mine, but I say to him–”You are as fast as you are because you learned where the keys were located before you adapted to your new style of typing.”

I agree that you don’t hang a child because he/she types “c” with the “f” finger; or “r” with the “d” finger, but hunting and pecking is just not the way.  The problem with keyboarding today is that students are being introduced to the keyboard at such a young age, they develop the hunt and peck method and then when they enter middle school or high school where keyboarding shows up in the curriculum, they are convinced that they already know how to type because they are satisfied with how they’ve been doing it up to this point.–A headache for a diehard business teacher like myself.

I’m convinced that touch typing should be introduced at the Kindergarten and/or first grade level.  Why, I taught my son to type on a typewriter when he was four years old–computers were not as prevalent then.  After 30+ years of teaching business on the secondary level, this year I taught at an elementary/middle school.  There my patience with teaching touch typing was put to the ultimate test.  To maintain my sanity, I went with something my sister told me years ago–”not all children want to learn to type; but don’t hinder the ones that do.”  So I required them all to learn the touch method, not getting upset when I noticed some doing their own thing, and worked diligently with those that did.  When it came time to work with my first graders; however, my heart melted.  Those babies took to touch typing like ducks to water.  Just look at my babies typing.  Now I know where to put my efforts.

First Graders Touch Typing
First Graders Touch Typing
Touch Typing--1st Grade
Touch Typing–1st Grade

What Does Blogging Look Like?

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My students are beginning to prepare to become bloggers. Their first assignment was to research blogging and prepare a one paragraph essay describing what they envision blogging will be like. Once the essays were presented, as a fun activity, they were given the task of using their essays in tagexdo to create a word cloud about blogging. Some of them were given permission to use some additional words from their research so that their pictures really took shape. Below is my example of that assignment. This assignment became the first post on the students’ new blogs.

BLACK VIOLIN

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Have you heard of the group “Black Violin”?  Well, neither had I until the Principal at my school saw the need to expose our children to some cultural diversity and took the entire school to the Orpheum in Memphis, TN to see a performance by this extraordinary group.  Two young men and their violins.  Here’s an excerpt from the internet about them from the site–http://www.last.frm/music/Black+Violin:

On May 21st 2005 Black Violin, two classically trained musicians took home the title ‘2005 Apollo Legends’ which catapulted them to international fame. These two gentlemen, Kev Marcus and Wil B along with their DJ TK have created the ultimate synergy between classical and Hip-Hop music, and with it an incredible opportunity to reach young children.

The performance was outstanding and they parted with a word to the children:  ”In order to rise to the top you have got to continue to work to be better than the best that you can be.  You have to put yourself out there and keep pushing to reach your goal.”  They told them that the reason they became a success is because someone took notice of them one day and was willing to take a chance on them.  They said hadn’t they put themselves out there time and time again, they probably would have gone unnoticed.

If this group comes to your area, take your kids on a field trip to see them.

DonorsChoose.org

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Have you heard of DonorsChoose.org. –an online charity connecting you to classrooms in need. Their aim:

1. You give to a classroom project.
2. We deliver the materials to the class.
3. Kids learn and show it in photos and thank-you notes.

I was introduced to this magnificent  organization by a co-worker who canvassed our faculty to write proposals for projects that we wanted to do with our students but could not financially afford them.  Grudgingly, I wrote my proposal thinking that nothing would come of it, but to my surprise, it was accepted, funded, and my students now have four (4) new Kodak cameras with SD cards and a card reader to use to post pictures to their blog.

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The process was really easy.  There are many projects out there that you can read through to see what they are looking for when completing your request.  One teacher at my school got funded for a document camera, another got a reading center with wireless headsets, and another got books for her classroom.  Check out the site and go for it.–DonorsChoose.com

YET ANOTHER FUN DAY–”MUFFINS WITH MOM!”

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Moms were asked to come and share a breakfast muffin with their student.  Mothers volunteered and read stories to their child’s class.  Each child had a tummy full of muffins and other breakfast treats and at least two stories read to them by a mommy.  This was an exciting day , celebrated by grades K-2.

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I’VE BEEN BOO-ED!

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A phantom walked the halls of JPFreeman and left Halloween treats and a note that read:  ”You’ve Been BOO-ed!”  The note gave instructions to post our “I’ve Been Boo-ed”  sign outside our door so that the phantom wouldn’t visit again and to boo two other co-workers.  This caught on and became such a delight for the teachers to walk into their room to find goodies and a note from the phantom.  It got so exciting that teachers who hadn’t had a visit yet were asking when were they going to get boo-ed.

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If you want to engage in this fun activity, go to ivebeenbooed.com.  If you’re too late for Halloween, there are instructions there for Christmas.  Happy Holidays!

FOOTBALL HOMECOMING — 2010 (JPFreeman vs Geeter)

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The Panthers were on the prowl and the Dragons felt their growl as the Panthers defeated the Dragons with a final score of 28 to 8.  Homecoming week at John P. Freeman began with College/University T-shirt/Tacky Day, then Spirit Day/Pep Rally, and finally Jersey/Twin Day.  The excitement of Homecoming Week was felt everywhere.  Posters and banners were hung in the hallways, pictures were taken, and everyone had fun.  The pep rally was hosted by celebrity personality, TK from FM107.1.  The game was played on the Freeman Field at 5:30 p.m.

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A DATE WITH DAD

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In an effort to build our students’ self-esteem and build on their success in school, John P. Freeman Optional School launched their first annual “A Date with Dad”. Research has proven that parental involvement helps children to achieve at higher levels, attain better school attendance, and are less likely to get involved with crime or suffer from mental and social problems.  Dads from K-3 were invited to eat lunch with their children, pictures were taken and dads were given valuable information on how they can help their children with skills that are taught at school.  Dads filled out surveys and discussed how they could become mentors and volunteers in the school.  The participation was tremendous and they all are looking forward to the upcoming event for dads.

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KINDERGARTNERS USING PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS

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It was so exciting to see kindergartners come together as a team without any adult assistance and put together a floor-size jigsaw puzzle.  At first glance I wondered if they would be able to figure this out.  When I do a jigsaw puzzle, I always start by putting together the frame of the puzzle.  I wondered would they know to do that.  As I watched, I was amazed as they put their heads together and one child loudly exclaimed, “I have an orange piece.”  Immediately they started matching corors of pieces and successfully finished the puzzle. Unlike my strategy, they didn’t have to start by doing the border of the puzzle first.  The thing that amazed me more than their attack of the problem, was to hear them talk about being a team and needing to work together and cooperate.  What a vocabulary for kindergartners!  Thinking back over my 60+ years, I wonder was my kindergarten class ever given a jigsaw puzzle to complete when we were that age.  Was our vocabulary that advanced?

Congratulations to Ms. Simleton’s KK-02 class.

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Yeah!  We did it!!!!

Yeah! We did it!!!!

Document Formatting

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As a former high school business teacher, being able to format letters (business and personal), reports (essays), tables, and memos was paramount.  Students who possessed formatting skills were able to transfer them to creating newsletters, invitations, flyers, etc.  So how important is it to teach formatting on the elementary level?

Last week I had three fifth graders that asked to come to the lab afterschool to complete an assignment for class.  One was doing a Powerpoint presentation and the others word processing documents.  When I offered to give them some pointers on proper formatting, they were excited and asked questions about things they wanted to do but were unsure.  I was happy to see that they accepted my suggestions and eagerly formatted their doucments as I suggested.

Am I being over zealous because I want my first and second graders to be able to type by touch and my third through fifth graders to be able to format simply documents and use Excel and Powerpoint effectively?  Of course I want my students to be able to use voicethread and do podcasting and blogging, use the internet for research, insert clipart and pictures, and produce tables and charts, but shouldn’t they know proper formatting?  Is this something that should be reserved for middle schoolers?  Am I expecting too much from elementary students?


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