Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2020

Keyboarding Without Tears

Elementary typing curriculum has interesting content, lacks feedback

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts

Skills
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
K–5
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Pros: Cross-curricular content is informative and often interesting, teacher guides are thorough.

Cons: Includes very little feedback for students and very few customization options for teachers.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a less conventional keyboarding program that you can stretch across a whole school year, this might be a good fit.

Keyboarding Without Tear's teacher dashboard includes district-, class-, and student-level reports, teacher's guides for each grade level, and quite detailed looks into each of the lesson exercises. The teacher guides include strategies and school-to-home connections, and there are also enrichment activities and digital citizenship lessons available. The curriculum is tied to ELA Common Core Standards. There are a few class-level settings and individual student settings, and you can add additional spot assessments throughout the school year. Past this, there are very few customization options, and teachers are only allowed to add 10 teacher-created exercises. And, for those, you have to state exactly what date the students will work on them. The curriculum fits rigidly into a "five days a week, 36 weeks a year" schedule, suggesting students work on it for five to 10 minutes per day (or 30 minutes per week). However, you could have your students work at a different pace.

When you set up students, you choose their grade level rather than their skill level. On any grade level, though, you can choose to skip the six-week foundational lessons, and it's easy to switch a student to another grade level's material if the default isn't a great fit.

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Keyboarding Without Tears is a 36-week program designed for grades K-5. It's both more and less regimented than other typing programs, with a rigid schedule laid out, but with very little student feedback. It includes cross-curricular material, so students do learn interesting and relevant things as they're learning to type. The difficulty level varies as students work through their grade level, with simple basics sandwiched between more difficult typing exercises, making it feel not properly sequenced. Early grades work on letter and word recognition and formation in addition to becoming familiar with the keyboard. All grade levels have a six-week foundational skill sequence available to them that can be skipped for classes or students who are already quite familiar with the keyboard, but each grade level jumps to using all keys fairly quickly.

Compared with other typing programs, Keyboarding Without Tears spends less time on the basics and more time on haphazard practice. The curriculum doesn't go through skills as systematically as others do, diving into whole words and paragraphs alongside the basics for most of the school year. There's less drilling, fewer tests and games, and more organic typing. Along with that, though, there's little to no feedback for students as they work through the curriculum, making it difficult for them to gauge progress and improvement.

The content included in Keyboarding Without Tears is often interesting, teaching students about topics in science, math, history, and more. It also includes question-and-answer activities, areas where students type what they hear, formatting skills, long-form paragraphs and definitions, and other less conventional typing exercises. On the flip side, there's less drilling and a less systematic approach to learning to type. Students also don't get any feedback while they're typing, other than a red line and small sound to indicate they hit the wrong key. They don't get any kind of speed or accuracy score after they type their exercises either. This makes it much harder for students to see how to improve or if they're even improving. Trouble keys/areas of the keyboard aren't shown, and all of this makes it harder for students to feel invested in their own learning. This might be good for students who get anxious when they're timed or when they're scored too often, but it may make other students feel a bit lost, unable to figure out how well they're doing.

The curriculum's difficulty seems to go up and down as students proceed through it, interspersing basic exercises such as typing syllables with typing whole paragraphs containing long words. In other areas, it has students typing math equations on a level much lower than they would be working on in their grade. Some of the lessons for older students feel like they would be better suited to younger ages, so students may feel condescended to some of the time. Though teachers can choose for students to skip the six weeks of foundational lessons, there aren't options to allow students to jump around or skip lessons on their own.

In short, the content is uneven, though it's often interesting. Difficulty feels a bit randomized, and students get little to no feedback as they type. There also aren't many customization options for teachers to adapt the material to their particular needs.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

A gentle, attractive interface provides a backdrop for uneven but often interesting cross-curricular content. Students may feel a bit adrift with the lack of feedback, however.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

A less systematic approach to keyboarding lessons than the usual fare, this still rigidly-scheduled program gives students practice typing but with less drilling and feedback.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Teachers have guides to follow and enrichment materials to include, but their dashboard includes little in the way of customization or assessment options.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Melissa Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Liberty
Springfield, United States
Keyboarding Skills with Rigor!
We really love this program at our school. We are noticing the students are typing faster. They are able to do a lot of different skills with their mouse that beforehand was tough for this age. The students are learning great phonics skills while growing as typers. I do highly recommend this program if you are looking for a typing program.
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