Monday, July 16, 2012

Crew Review: Keyboarding for the Christian School

A couple years ago Sassy and MiniMe were able to learn the basics of typing, and were doing well with it. However, because we don't typically do much of our school on the computer, they haven't really kept up their typing skills. So when we had the chance to review Keyboarding for the Christian School, I thought it would be a good "refersher course".

We received the elementary version, ebook Keyboarding for the Christian School. The book is designed to be printed out and the student then types their lessons in a Word Processing program. The early lessons remind me of my high school typing class, except I remember our teacher calling out the letters we were to type instead of us copying them out of a book. But it's the same basic approach, starting with ASDF, adding JKL; and so on.

We dove right in, starting with lesson one. I printed it out and set MiniMe up at the table with the laptop and the first lesson. She really struggled with the idea of looking at the paper, while typing on the screen. I don't think she was wanting to look at her fingers, so much as, she wanted to be able to watch the screen to check her own work as she went. Over time, she learned to look back and forth, and would check her own work (she's a perfectionist LOL). This seemed to be "proving" the theory behind this approach. The website explains "Usually you are typing something from a rough draft.  If the lessons are only available on the computer monitor; your student will not get the needed skill of transferring information from paper to the computer." This sounded good to me up front, and MiniMe's challenges seemed to back it up. But the more I think about it, I'm not so sure that is true. I can't think of the last time I typed something while looking at a paper hard copy. I write "rough drafts" of my blog posts, directly into blogger, and then just go back and edit, I don't hand write a first draft. Even if I were to print off a rough draft to edit, I wouldn't be straight typing it back into the computer, I'd just be going back in and making the edits. . . there ARE still specific careers that include lots of data entry from hard copy to electronic, but I'm not sure this is true across the board.

Meanwhile, when MiniMe finished her lesson, it was Sassy's turn. She seemed to struggle much less with typing off a paper hard copy, and has moved through the lessons without any real problems.

The book we reviewed, the elementary edition, is listed as being useful for grades K-5. I'm not sure how this differs from the middle school book, as I mentioned, it reminded me alot of the typing class I took in high school, so I would say this book would work fine for older ages as well. I don't think my children would have done well with this book much younger than they are now (age 9, 3rd/4th grade level, roughly). Certainly, I don't think this approach would work well for a child still learning their letters or just starting to learn to read. I would argue that it's not necessary to teach typing to a child that young, but if a person felt the need, there are programs that combine letter recognition/reading with the typing that I think would be a better option for at least Kindergarten & 1st grade.

So, in the end, I think this is an option for teaching typing. If you prefer to keep your children off the internet, and avoid lots of "video game" type elements, this is great for that. I think it will teach typing, just fine, much the way many of us learned "way back when". I disagree with the premise that it's "necessary" to teach from paper, rather than using a program that teaches directly on the screen. I think in most cases once a person is a proficient typer they will be able to switch back and for as needed, and I feel that for many of us, most of our typing is "creative writing" done directly on the computer.

It could be argued that you could probably teach using this basic approach without a textbook, simply by creating your own drills and teaching the basic fingering, however, since the ebook is only $12.95, I'd say it's easier to not have to think it all through on my own :) 

In addition to the elementary level ebook, there is also a book for grades 6 and up, and print versions of each book. To see what other crew members thought of both ebooks, you can read their posts here.

Oh dear, I almost forgot the most important part! The vendor has generously provided a coupon code for my readers! Use the coupon code: SUMMER2012 between now and 8/29/12 and receive 20% off!


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the above mentioned product in exchange for writing an honest review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are those of myself or my children, as stated.

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