Keyboarding: Learning How to Learn

Obedience has held a mighty throne when it comes to education--there's always lots of talk about student behavior and attention.  "If only they listened," "I don't know why they can't attend," or "He's never doing what he's supposed to do," we hear teachers lament as they work to teach all children well.

Often when you pick your students up from a specialist or therapist, the professional will remark, "She was a very good girl," "He worked hard," and "She followed all directions." It's not as often that you hear comments such as, "He mastered his five facts today," "She learned how the heart works, " and "He learned to infer, and he used the clues in the story to infer that character conflict began even before the character was born--born into conflict."

Research demonstrates that it's time we change our words when it comes to student work and achievement, moving from obedience descriptions to learning talk.  That shift will serve to move students' attitudes from those as passive bystanders in education to the active drivers of their own learning.

How do we make or continue to make this shift in our classrooms when we return to school in the fall?

One way I'll make this shift is through our goal for all students to learn to keyboard.  Keyboarding has been identified as a important 21st century skill. Most fourth graders are at a good age to master keyboarding (if they're unable to do this, there are other tools that can replace keyboarding for those students).  It's a discrete skill and a good choice for showing students how they can apply the science of cognition to successful learning.

I'll apply the learning list:

1.  We'll talk about keyboarding.
  • What is it? Other names for it?
  • Can you do it? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Why is it important?
  • How will you plan to use it in the future?
2. We'll assess and chart our current skill using a typing test.

3. We'll notice the learning gap: "I can type at ____ and my goal is to type at _____."  I will know that I've met my goal when I can pass the typing test at ______ words per minute. (success criteria). We'll aim for 30-45 wpm for each child, and 60 wpm for those who want a real challenge. 

4. Next, each child will make a plan using the keyboarding contract below:
5. As the teacher, I'll keep the learning conversation and feedback going.  I'll continue to bring this learning goal to their attention as a good example of how each individual is in charge of his/her own learning, and by applying optimal learning strategies and efforts, we can meet our goals.

6. At curriculum night, I'll enlist the parents support in this endeavor and introduce the parents to the science of learning--the steps that put children center stage in their learning efforts and lead to learning success.

Let me know if you've employed a similar strategy with students to achieve a specific skill?  If so, what was the outcome, and what advice do you have for me.  I'm looking forward to this empowering, important learning unit.  

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