Proper technique forms the foundation for successful touch keyboarding.
The importance of demonstrating and continuously encouraging proper technique
with the students cannot be over-emphasized. Technique should be observed
and closely monitored whenever students are operating a keyboard, whether they
are keying a story or practising keyboarding drills. It is extremely important
to encourage and develop good keyboarding habits right from the start.
The following is a complete and comprehensive technique checklist. Look for
the following elements in the technique of students.
The following is an abbreviated technique checklist, developed by Schrader
(1987). It may be used by the teacher or by the students to evaluate their own
or a partner's technique.
Computer No. ________________________________________________________
Develop a bulletin board display illustrating proper care and handling of
the equipment (hardware) and/or software students will be using.
Develop a display illustrating the basic parts of the equipment.
Show a film or a video illustrating proper technique while keyboarding.
High school students could model and develop the video.
Demonstrate proper and improper technique while keyboarding. Technique is
extremely important in the development of keyboarding skill and must be
continuously encouraged. Keyboarding should not be taught sitting down but
rather by moving around the room motivating and praising students. Written
evaluations of students' techniques are important, but verbal encouragement and
reinforcement of good technique on a daily basis will be beneficial to
Videotape students so they can evaluate their own technique.
Make use of brightly coloured wall charts and/or overheads when teaching
When introducing a new key, have students find it on their keyboards.
Encourage them to look down at their hands only during the introductory phase of
each new key. Vocalize the strokes while the students key, using rhythm and a
suitable pace. For example, call out "J space J" or "J U J" as the students key.
For a change of pace, have students be the "callers" as they key. For the
purposes of key location, allow your students to look down at their hands during
the keying of one or two introductory lines accompanying each new key. Once the
new key has been located, extensive drill work is required with "eyes on copy"
to promote key security.
Identify and use appropriately a variety of resources including textbooks,
examples of other copy material (such as handwritten drafts, overhead,
chalkboard) guest speakers and demonstrators, video/film and software. The
resources should be evaluated for their appropriateness and to ensure they are
free of sexism, racism, etc. Check the school library for print and audiovisual
resources which support keyboarding.
The overhead or the board can be used effectively to ensure students are
keeping their eyes on their copy while keyboarding. Putting the alphabet on the
board or on flash cards, writing a list of "backwards" words (keyed from right
to left, such as "deer" and "reed"), and keying the names of class members keep
students interested and challenged.
Use simple "art typing" designs to add interest and to assist the student
with manipulation of the keyboard. Art typing is the creation of a diagram or
graphic on the screen using a variety of keys such as x, /, *, etc.
Have students work in pairs if the number of keyboards is limited. One
student could complete a simple checklist of each partner's technique, then
roles could be reversed.
In the early grades, it may be helpful to physically divide the keyboard in
"half" for the students to help them discern which half of the keyboard to use
with their left hand and which half to use with their right hand. Insert a
narrow piece of tin foil or a piece of brightly coloured yarn between the keys
separating the left side of the keyboard from the right. Explain that the index
or the "pointer" finger of the left hand should be used for keys on the left
side of the keyboard while the index or "pointer" finger of the right hand is
for keys on the right side of the keyboard. The thumb of the right hand is the
preferred choice for the space bar. Mastering the use of the correct hand to key
the alphabetic and numeric keys will go a long way to enhance the development of
the skill of touch keyboarding.
During the readiness phase of keyboarding (before touch keyboarding is
introduced), encourage students to use the index finger of the left hand for
keys on the left side of the keyboard. Alpha-numeric keys to be keyed with the
left hand include the following: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, q, w, e, r, t, a, s, d, f, g, z,
x, c, v, and b. Alpha-numeric keys to be keyed with the index finger of the
right hand include: 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, y, u, i, o, p, h, j, k, l, semi-colon (;),
colon (:), apostrophe ('), quotation marks ("), n, and m. The right hand will
also be used for the period, comma, question mark, and diagonal (/) keys.
Time the students for one minute while they copy a passage in longhand. At
the end of the keyboarding program, their keyboarding speed should be at least
equal to their handwriting speed. This will emphasize the usefulness of
keyboarding to the young learner.
Use a colouring activity to help your students with key location. Use the
keyboarding chart showing both the left and the right hand at the bottom of the
keyboard. Each finger has the name of a colour on it. Have your students colour
the finger nail of each of the fingers with the appropriately coloured crayon.
For example, the finger nail of the baby finger will be red, the ring finger
will be blue, and so on.
Now ask your students to outline the home row keys (a, s, d, f, j, k, l, and
;) in black. The next step is to colour the home row key the same colour as the
finger that is used to strike the key. For example, the "a" key will be red; the
"s" key will be blue, and so on. The space bar is struck with the thumb; the
suggested colour is black. As more keys are added to the list of learned keys,
they can be coloured the appropriate colour as well. The growing number of
coloured keys will give your students a sense of accomplishment in addition to
helping with key security.
This can be taken a step further by the purchase of coloured sticky dots from
a stationery store. Allow the students to put a red sticky dot on their baby
fingers, a blue one on each ring finger, etc.
Sample keyboards have been included for your use, and are found on the
Activities originally developed by Manitoba Education are included, with
their permission, following the keyboard charts. These charts and others serve
as templates/masters for classroom activities.