The clanking sounds of an old IBM typewriter has faded into the archived memories stored within the walls at the Mineral County High School. Today there is a soft hush as you walk past the keyboarding class, where Diane Rodriquez teaches her seventh grade students.
With the students focusing straight at their computer screens, an updated approach is presented. To learn the familiar hand structure, the keyboard is positioned on the lower portion of the screen, as their typing is seen floating above. The students are adapting their hand and eye coordination while typing the uniquely created stories which grabs a young person’s interest.
“A year ago when I took over the business courses, I realized our students needed ways to stimulate their interest and abilities,” Rodriquez shared. “Desiree Demars from our technology department assisted me in finding programs designed to develop skills in a fun and challenging manner.”
When seeking materials for the students to practice their typing skills, Rodriquez decided to develop their own typing items which were age appropriate and fun. The students practice their speed and accuracy by typing out writings such as “The History of the Pickle,” or “The History of SpongeBob.” In working with thought-provoking subjects the students typing skills expand into learning how to access and move clip art. Students understand side notes and various other areas to enhance and individualize their reports, which are then put into a personalized binder that corresponds to their seat number.
Following a regimented program, the students moved into a competitive computer program called Nitro. Each student transitioned into a typing game of speed, concentration and accuracy. Student Michael Cauley shared that the game was an easy favorite, as it allowed each player to move their own cars in lanes as they typed faster without mistakes. If a mistake was made and not corrected, the car you were driving would slow down until it could possibly stop. There were racing stats with names, racing records listed and you could challenge other racers in the class. It was also fun to earn more nitro, buy other cars and earn racing items as you designed your race cars.
Rodriquez explained that Cauley’s abilities had well exceeded that of his age group. Typing over 74 wpm (words per minute) was an astonishing amount at a seventh grade level, but Cauley said he enjoyed the competition of the game. His hand agility and concentration levels kept his errors to a minimum, raising his racing techniques while he shared the gift with others. Another student asked him for some “nitro” so Cauley logged in and helped a teammate out.
To understand this seventh graders accomplishment, the median average typist logs in at 38-40 wpm, which equates to 190-200 character strokes. A word is equal to five character strokes and half the population lacks the proper finger dexterity to type much faster than 50 wpm. According to a five star staffing agency, the average 13 year old types 23 wpm which equals 115 strokes per minute, while Cauley is already logging in at 365 strokes per minute. This shows that this student has an exceptional ability, exceeding beyond any teacher’s expectation.
A student drawn poster on the wall showed a simplistic version of understanding computers. The hardware of the computer is the ground, while the operating system is the tracks, and the train of information moves as the train car does, while the people inside represent the programs.
This junior high, Keyboard 1 classroom of 22 stations, provides a special way of learning while the typing emphasis includes an enjoyable atmosphere.