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Dear Otto: How do I Make Keyboarding Collaborative?

Posted by on February 9, 2016

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from a reader:

I am student teaching in a high school in Louisiana. I teach 5 hours of IBCA a day. The students use KCA, this coming week they will be learning P and Y. I’ve had my first evaluation. My supervisor would like to see some group activity, students asking each other questions, and students creating their own assessment rubrics. I am at a loss. I need to keep with the curriculum, and the students do not know how to type words yet. I cannot think of anything that will be good for my next evaluation. Got any ideas?

One of my favorite collaborative keyboarding exercises is a Keyboard Challenge. It tests students on their knowledge of all things keyboarding. This includes key placement, shortkeys, care of the keyboard, and anything else you want to include. Students divide into groups with a list of the types of questions you will ask. They select a spokesperson (the only one who can answer questions) and study them as a group, maybe assign certain group members to be experts on each category. When you play the game, you ask the first group one of the questions, give them 2 seconds to answer (only the spokesperson can answer). Why only 2 seconds? Because keyboarding is about speed, automatic finger movement. They shouldn’t have to think, just react. As a result, I accept visual answers, such as:

Q:    What finger do you use to type T

A:    Student raises the left pointer

Each right answer gets a point. The winner gets a prize that works for your group. Here’s an example of the list of questions:

 keyboarding challenge
Another good teamwork option for youngers is Brown Bear Typing done in teams. Move students into groups in the classroom, each with their own digital device. Open Brown Bear Typing (or any program that focuses on key placement, not keyboarding habits). Studnets will have 30 seconds to type as many keys as possible. At the end of the time, add the scores for all members in the group. The group with the highest cumulative score wins.
It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable students are for this game–even beginners are fine. It’s about encouraging enthusiasm for keyboarding.

To ask Otto a question, fill out the form below:


More on keyboarding:


KidzType–the Keyboard Practice Site You’ve Been Waiting For

Keyboarding and the Scientific Method

A Conversation about Keyboarding, Methods, Pedagogy, and More

Need a Keyboard Curriculum:



Middle School

Student workbooks

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

4 Responses to Dear Otto: How do I Make Keyboarding Collaborative?

  1. Dr. Bill Morgan

    Excellent advice: “It’s about encouraging enthusiasm for keyboarding.”

    • Jacqui

      It seems like such a solitary venture–and it is in many respects. But there are ways to get kids working together.

  2. Ashley Lafleur

    We have SEARCHED all over to find the answer to number 6, “What is the row below home row called?” to no avail. Can you help?

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