Teaching keyboarding is more than just typing. It is an important component of literacy for all students. By teaching keyboarding in elementary school and reinforcing these skills through real life use, educators can provide the necessary foundation students need for their future. Students who are proficient in keyboard skills are better prepared for academic success in college and success in the workplace. It is not just about typing assignments, reports or spreadsheets it is about using the computer to efficiently and effectively communicate. Think: email, chat, blogs, texting, web collaboration, filling out forms, virtual meetings and more.
Today more than ever before students need strong keyboarding skills to communicate in a digital world. Keyboarding has become a fundamental component of literacy in the 21st century, whether it is to collaborate with peers, publish projects to the web, or simply chat with friends. QwertyTown, an award-winning keyboarding web app is the first keyboarding application to tap into one of the biggest reasons keyboarding is an essential skill for young people: communicating online.
Many keyboarding programs are about skills and drills, but QwertyTown takes it further, by having students communicate with classmates, teachers and friends in a teacher controlled environment. Students become fluent with the keyboard while learning how to interact in a digital environment. The program is a fun, engaging, modern keyboard program that teaches keyboarding as an aspect of digital literacy. Plus QwertyTown also
- Addresses Common Core Literacy Standards/ PARCC
- Promotes digital literacy
- Customizable for learners with different abilities
- Entirely web based
- Plus 10 More reasons at the end of this article!
Meet the Creators: QwertyTown was created in 2011 by two elementary
educators, Dave Grammerstorf (elementary teacher) and Paul Garofano (Technology Educator) under their company Second Nature Learning located in NY. The catalyst for Second Nature Learning and their first application, QwertyTown came from a teacher’s plea
We’ve been using all these keyboarding programs, but my students are so bored with them and still cannot communicate their thoughts on the computer, what else can we do?
They created the company and their first application QwertyTown when they realized the tools they wanted didn’t exist in any program on the market. Be sure to check out their video at the end of this post for more information.
The QwertyTown Difference:
What makes QwertyTown different from other keyboarding applications is QwertyTown’s ability to motivate and engage students for the long term. There are many keyboarding apps with good ‘keyboarding’ games that are fun for the short term, but they do not keep the student engaged or motivated long term. QwertyTown engages students long term by tapping into the real reason why they want to learn to type: communication. Students want to be able to communicate with classmates, teachers, friends and family. Fluency in keyboarding is essential to communication and their preparedness in academia, work and life. QwertyTown’s Chatterbox features (Qmail, chat, & multi chat) address the need for keyboarding instruction in the context of communication for all academic and professional purposes.
Getting Started with QwertyTown When a student first logs in to QwertyTown they create their own Avatar. This gives the program a social gaming feel that kids love and are accustomed to. As a student progresses in their skills they earn coins to purchase items to customize and personalize their Avatar.
QwertyTown’s curriculum QwertyTown follows the standard Qwerty fingering. There are 6 levels of learning a keyboard. In each level students learn some specific keys as per rows. Each of the 6 lessons are scaffolded and follow the Modeling, Guided Practice and Independent Stages giving students the ability to learn, practice and do on their own.
Keyboarding fluency is measured in two ways: Speed and Accuracy. Speed is calculated by Words Per Minute (WPM) and Accuracy is the % correct. At the end of each lesson, QwertyTown assesses how quickly and accurately students can type with the keys they’ve learned. Students may earn Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medals, as their learning progresses.
By default, students must achieve at least 20 WPM at 92% Accuracy to earn a Bronze Medal on a lesson. 30 WPM and 95% earn Silver, while 40 WPM and 95% Accuracy earns a Gold Medal. Teachers can customize the Performance Benchmarks necessary to earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals. This allows for differentiation on a class or individual level.
Performance-Based Reward System and Social Interaction
While developing their keyboard skills, students unlock the features that enable them to collaborate with friends and progress further. When students earn medals, they are awarded QwertyCoins. QwertyCoins can be used to purchase new items to customize their avatars from the Avatar store. The pursuit for QwertyCoins drive students to replay lessons multiple times in order to earn a Silver or Gold medal.
There are six levels and each level has roughly ten lessons. When students complete level one, they unlock the ability to add Friends to their Friends List. This allows them to check out one another’s avatars. It is their first step to gaining social interaction. After completing Level 3, students unlock the ability to send Qmail messages to friends and later down the road students unlock real-time chatting and finally, students unlock the ability to group chat. All of these social interactions take place in a secured and teacher monitored environment.
Common Core State Standards and PARCC/Smarter Balance Testing
The creators Grammerstorf and Garofano are teachers in the trenches who live and breathe all mandates including the Common Core State Standards and PARCC/Smarter Balance testing. They recognized early on, as did the educators who wrote The Common Core Literacy Standards, that keyboarding is a fundamental skill in new literacy. They have authored all of QwertyTown’s lessons and activities to address all The Common Core Literacy Standards regarding keyboarding and digital literacy. For detailed information on Qwerty Town’s Common Core alignment check out: http://qwertytown.com/about/common-core-standards
This year many 6th graders will take the new PARCC exams. These students will be assessed on their ability to write using a keyboard. The Common Core asks that 3rd- 6th graders be able to type multiple pages in one sitting, as with the PARCC, these standards will be put to the test and QwertyTown will equip all of our students to actualize all components of their fluency.
As educators the creators of QwertyTown understand that there are often budgetary constraints in each school district. Therefore, they offer QwertyTown at the most competitive price on the market. They works with administration to make sure that QwertyTown is affordable for every student in every district.
I highly recommend you sign up for the free trial. Just click on the graphic to the left or visit the QwertyTown site. You and your students will love it! You may even find that your own keyboarding skills could use some work! Schools may sign up for a free 30-day trial to try out QwertyTown. With your 30-day trial, you will get one free teacher account and thirty student accounts.
Still Not Convinced? Try these 10 reasons on for Size...
10. QwertyTown was built by educators who understand how students want to learn keyboarding.
9. The lessons are short but effective, and have a high replay value.
8. Customizing avatars is a blast!
7. The Chatterbox allows communication in a safe, teacher-controlled environment.
6. QwertyTown is web-based, which means students can access it outside school.
5. Keyboarding is an essential component of new literacy.
4. The Chatterbox taps into the real reason why students want to learn to type; communication!
3. The voiced narration of our lessons makes QwertyTown accessible even to very young learners.
2. Students can see their teacher’s avatar…..mohawk, pet iguana and all…
1. QwertyTown is the cursive of The 21st century.