How I Use It
I use this to teach typing. In my opinion no typing program should just be put in front of a student and then just let them go for it. I intentionally teach preskills with a focus on technique and accuracy over speed. I currently use it with third, fourth, and fifth graders in a general ed setting. Some may dislike using it at lower grade levels because it lacks interesting animations, but then again there is very little to distract students as they sub-vocalize or are concentrating.
When I first tested it, I did not do this and just let students try it. Although the kids enjoyed it, it was not as successful as what I could have done, as I mentioned above. Students were racing through, then reaching a plateau and giving up. I realized I had taken myself out of the equation way too much, and changed my approach. If you are looking for a program to put kids on for twenty minutes, this is not the one. At least not yet.
For students who were motivated to type, the laid back approach worked...but for many, the internal motivation wasn't there. That was my fault as a teacher, not the program the itself. Teach the skills like you would anything else, give proper introductions to the keys, formative and summative assessments, etc.
This year I will be utilizing the advanced features outlined above, and look forward to it. Games are slated to be available on the paid version on September 1st, which depending on the diversity may add an interesting visual component that some believe Typing Club to be lacking. I am excited to keep parents in the loop with consistent reporting to them.
I am curious about what the future of Typing Club will bring, as it receives consistent and regular updates. If Typing Club can get the job done now, only good things will come.
Typing Club is a competent keyboarding web application for students old enough to learn to type. It is available for free, a reasonably priced paid version (around $2.66 per student per year) which has access to more features.
The free version allows for the 3 classes, 2 instructors, 30 days of data retention, as well as the ability to create, customize, or access a database of other user created lessons.
Some options only included in the paid version are no ads, attempt playback (watch a recording of exactly what the student did) advanced reporting, certificates, and parent reporting/weekly email.
To see the full difference between free and paid visit Typing Club's website: https://www.google.com/search?q=define+old+hat&oq=define+old+hat&aqs=chrome.0.69i57j69i60l3j69i61l2.1666j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
Earlier this year, the lessons didn't introduce which fingers to use with the new keys. There are now pictures, but it would be nice if I could integrate video of me explaining what the kids need to do, particularly for students with difficulty reading. Currently, I cannot even insert brief instructions.
The ability to customize or create lessons is important. I am not an expert on teaching typing or the proper sequence of introducing each key. The sequence here seems good. Sometimes I wonder if it is too easy at first, but that is fine line to walk. If it is too hard at first, it will be extremely frustrating and discouraging for ALL students.
The customization option includes the ability to alter or change the required level of accuracy and speed. This is nice for beginning learners because we typically want to emphasize technique and accuracy over speed.
The official Graphite review points out that there is no method of just letting students type and keep them from using the hunt and peck method. This is true, but that is a difficulty with most if not all touch typing software. The ability to have parents view their child's typing anytime they want and receive weekly emails would certainly aid in this. It is probably a good idea to intentionally teaching typing skills as you would any subject - you wouldn't teach literacy by having students listen to a book while following along, the same is true of typing. If you consider typing skills a subject, Typing Club provides you with customization options to teach typing the way you think it should be done.
The site seems to have a dedicated programmer(s) who update the site regularly and take feedback into consideration in future development.
I am confident that Typing Club, which is already good, will get better. If I could embed a Youtube video of me (or one already created) explaining a concept along with brief written instructions, that would be ideal.
Nevertheless, it is the best web based typing program I could find and the one that I decided to purchase for my classroom.