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Using the technology to teach touch typing

Once upon a time touch typing was taught in many schools. These days despite the ubiquity of laptops we often see children using the much less effective hunt-and-peck method of using a keyboard.

Hunt-and-peck often involves two finger typing, is not rhythmic and does not encourage or develop a kinaesthetic approach.
Keyboarding is the foundation of so much work with technology and has other advantages too. Once children can touch type they unconsciously associate patterns on the keyboard with the spelling of certain words . As one girl said, ''Was' is a triangle and 'were' is three steps forward and one back.'

Kaz is endorsed by the British Dyslexia Association and uses proper words from the very beginning and not mindless strings of letters. It is quick and easy to follow with a little bird on screen to guide learners through the exercises. Children can get going without having to read through lots of written instructions.

Moat School is a small co-educational day school for children between the ages of 11 and 16. It specialises in working with dyslexic learners. Some of the children have low self-esteem when they first arrive at the school because they have not thrived in their previous schools. One of the things which is different about Moat School is that children all have their own laptop and take it from lesson to lesson so good keyboarding skills are crucial.

'We use Kaz at the beginning of year 7.' said Moat teacher Melanie Kling, 'to get the students going or to increase their speeds. They will use their laptop in every lesson and for homework too. Speed and accuracy are very important if they are to use their laptops successfully in examinations. Some of the children manage 70 wpm.'

Some children join the school later on and then they are given their own individual account to build their skills as fast as possible. Kaz has a very good logging system so staff can keep an eye on progress. Touch typing requires continual practice. Children can log on at home so learners can practice and keep their speeds up during the holidays.

Advantages of touch typing
• Children soon can type faster than they can write
• It develops a kinaesthetic approach to spelling
• Less mental fatigue than hunt-and-peck
• It uses muscle memory so there is less physical fatigue
• Looking at the screen and not the keys means the quality of writing is usually better

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