How I Use It
I read in some articles that third grade, developmentally, is the best grade to start formally teaching students how to type using all their fingers, due to hand size and fine motor skill level at that age range. I teach technology and typing is an essential skill for students to develop that will help them create digital written content at a faster pace. I use DanceMat Typing with my 2nd grade students as an introduction to typing. My students love the certificates of completion, which serve as a big motivator. They also enjoy the cartoon characters and musical "shows" that play when you complete each stage (lesson). The interface and design are very child friendly. The visuals and audio actually teach the students how to place and move their fingers. It doesn't track mistakes or wpm (words per minute) like other typing programs do. These features make it a great tool for introducing typing skills to young students in a way that isn't intimidating. Seeing mistakes and slow typing speeds could be very discouraging when you are first starting out. The best part is that it is totally free! My students did encounter a glitch where sometimes the lesson/screen would totally freeze. One of my students, however, found a workaround and was able to unfreeze the screen by double-clicking on the lesson portion of the screen. Sometimes students finished a level, but were not able to save/print their certificate. Also, students would sometimes skip ahead so that it would seem that they were faster and/or better than their classmates.
DanceMat Typing is a great, free tool for introducing typing skills to 2nd graders. It would be great if students could create accounts that a teacher account could monitor. I would just like to make sure that students are moving through the lessons sequentially, without skipping any. The accounts would also help students to know which lesson they last completed. I ended up having to make a checklist to track the lesson that each student was on. They would often come and ask me for this information because they didn't remember. Accounts would also allow students to print a certificate at a later time/date, without having to do the lesson all over again during their next visit to the lab. Having the ability to set up classes and monitor them would allow me to see students progress. If I could simply see which lessons students have the most difficulty with, I could make recommendations for which they should practice. I agree with Graphite's review that students could benefit from having a choice or more than one learning activity to practice a particular lesson. I do have students who lost interest and may have had continued motivation if there was more than one option for each lesson. Overall, however, I would recommend this tool to other educators and families. Students can access it for free from home which allows them to continue practicing a vital skill that will help them create digitally throughout their educational lives and in their careers beyond school.