Typing & Keyboarding Apps 2/28/13

There is concern in classrooms that students don’t have the keyboarding skills they need to take tests on computers. Whether it’s an essay question in a Language Arts class delivered via Blackboard or moodle or if it’s the upcoming PARCC tests, we want students to be able to do their best. It’s sad to think that students’ intelligence will be recorded by how fast, and accurate, they can type.

While reading an article Vicki Windman wrote for Tech & Learning this week, she mentioned that “Keyboarding should begin in first grade and be mastered by fourth grade. It is part of the Common Core Standards.”


With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

She listed several keyboard apps, and you can learn more about the keyboard apps she recommends by reading her full article: http://www.techlearning.com/default.aspx?tabid=67&entryid=5471

I noticed that none of her apps were free so I ventured out on my own. I tried searching for ‘keyboarding’ and then for ‘typing’ and found two worth mentioning. Clever Keyboard was free when I discovered it Tuesday but now costs $.99 and is from Absolutist.com and Tap typing is free, at a limited level. (a full curriculum can be purchased for $3.99) Sorry folks, this week the apps cost and are for iOS only.

“Clever Keyboard” is for preschoolers or kindergarteners who are also learning their letters. You can take one of the eight levels to learn or one of the four levels to practice.  Children are rewarded with virtual stickers they can select after completing a level. Each level must be accomplished with a degree of accuracy to earn a sticker and can be replayed as much as you want. My attraction to this app is that it fits several types of learners. For the visual learners each letter appears on a colorful flashcard and is accompanied by an object that begins with that letter. The keys light up green or red and the flashcards appear on the keyboard for correct choices. For the aural learners a voice speaks the letter and two mascots provide feedback for correct or incorrect selections. The kinetic learners are engaged by selecting keys on the keyboard.

There are two sets of flashcards to choose from and the default setting uses more common objects the majority of students will recognize. The second set of flashcards uses less familiar objects like a chamomile flower or an ear (grain) and may be used to challenge students.

In the practice mode flashcards appear on the screen for a limited time. Students must tap the correct key while the card is on screen. If missed, the letter remains in the cycle of the remaining letters and keeps appearing until it is correctly picked on the keyboard. Each practice level goes through the complete alphabet while learning levels only go through a few letters. Flashcards are rotated, or appear on screen for a limited time as well as without the letters, depending on the level. When the object appears on the card, without the letter, the letter is still spoken. Sounds and music can be controlled, or muted to challenge students further.

Go get Clever Keyboard: ABC Learning Game https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/clever-keyboard-abc-learning/id576724288?mt=8


This app allows users to create a profile, so multiple students can use the curriculum. Note: profiles are not protected and can be used by anyone who uses the device. For free you get two pages of practice pages and can only practice them once.

Purchase the full curriculum and get: 

Beginner Course

Central Letters lesson = 15 pages of typing drills.

Outer Letters lesson = 14 pages of typing drills.

All letters lesson = 23 pages of typing drills (The first 15 are pure practice matching the correct fingers to the correct keys. The last 8 pages consist of the 500 most common words in the English language.)

Shift Key lesson = 10 pages of typing drills.

There is also an Intermediate and Advanced Course that is part of the $3.99 curriculum.

Intermediate: Words, Punctuation?!, Numb3rs, Simple Sentences.

Advanced: Advanced Words, Symbols, Left Hand, Right Hand, The Quick Brown Fox.

Additional lessons can be purchased for $.99 and appear in the Extra Credit section of the app.

Letters highlight in red or green for incorrect or correct keystrokes. What is hard to realize at first is that once an incorrect keystroke has been made you must continue on. There’s no correcting the mistake. The lesson does not let you advance to the next character until you are back on the right track, so if you try to correct your mistake it may take you a couple keystrokes until you can advance in the lesson.

After a lesson is complete you can review your results which include accuracy, speed and a highlighted version of the keyboard indicating touches on the keyboard. There is a speed test that consists of nine randomly selected sentences that represent average typing difficulty. The score is recorded and compared against their global leaderboard. Don’t worry, this app works without wi-fi but when connected your results will be compared. Your own statistics are recorded on the device as well as each time you attempt the speed typing test. Those with Bluetooth keyboards will be happy to know that the app is compatible with your keyboard.

Go get TapTpying: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/taptyping-typing-trainer-suite/id364237969?mt=8

I thought that the days of keyboarding were gone due to touch devices. The split keyboard, swipe typing and text prediction are making it so much easier to type. But as noted at the beginning of this article, it’s part of the CCSS. After trying out the sample lessons on TapTyping I realize that I rely heavily on the auto correct built into the iPad’s keyboard and that my typing speed isn’t what I thought it was.  Keyboarding  programs, and web sites, are still out there for computers. Some are even free, so if you rather have students practice on physical keyboards you still can. Keep in mind, that when testing time comes, there’s a limited number of computers so testing coordinators will be looking to use those iPad carts as well.

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