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Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students


Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
Keyboarding is one of my favorite tech skills to teach. Even though it isn't exactly exciting for students, I've found some fun ways over the years to make it engaging and meaningful for them. In this blog post I'm sharing 4 tips and tricks for typing with elementary students.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

Start Keyboarding Early

It is never too soon for students to start becoming familiar with the keyboard layout. 
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
Having a keyboard displayed up on the wall is a great way to begin. You can use it to point out where letters are during your mini lessons or if a student needs a reminder. 

For the first few years of tech class, our Keyboarding time is really just becoming familiar with where all of the keys are so that students can find them more efficiently. By the end of Kindergarten, students should be able to find the letters and numbers they need to log in and get to the class website. By the end of first grade, they should be able to find any letter or number reasonably fast. "Proper" keyboarding starts in second grade. 

Start early also means to jump right back into it at the beginning of each school year. Students in the older grades need the refresher to be efficient with their assignments. 

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

Start Keyboarding on Paper before moving to Digital


Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

These large keyboards are such a great way to get started. Students practice finding the letters with velcro pieces. Once they get pretty good at it, we have timed races! 
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
When we finish this unit, I put one of these keyboards on the wall to use as review from time to time. Makes a great activity for when we are waiting for the teacher to pick up the class or if we wrap up early. See more ideas in the Spiral Review tip later in this post.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
 Since my youngest students are still learning their letters, I like to bring their academics into keyboarding. I have sets prepped of File Folder Keyboards with an assortment of velcro pieces. I can use these to differentiate for where a student is academically. Are they working on uppercase letters? Give them the set with matching 1:1 uppercase letters. Or provide more of a challenge by giving them the lowercase keyboard and uppercase letter pieces to match. Take it to the next level with pictures that represent each letter for them to match.
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
If you have room for workstations in your lab, this makes a great station activity. Very impressive for an admin observation, too!

Keyboarding falls under 2 categories of the ISTE Standards for Students
1. d. (Empowered Learner), students should understand fundamental concepts of technology operations including how to use devices and basic knowledge of software applications.
6. b. (Creative Communicator), students create original works or responsibly re-purpose digital resources into new creations.

The CCSS doesn't have explicit wording about keyboarding until 3rd grade, but by then it would be hard to catch up.
Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

For older students, we color code printable keyboards based on the correct hand positions. This is how I do it:
    Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
  • 2nd-3rd graders create a keyboard that has only 5 colors, for each finger. The keys are color coded for both hands. So, all of the keys that will be pressed by either pinky finger are colored the same. We do this for all of the letter and number keys. The only downfall I've seen to doing this is that some students learn the pointer fingers incorrectly and reach across the mid line so then end up having to fix it later on. 
  • 4th-5th graders have a different color for each finger on each hand, with only the space bar sharing a color across hands. This takes it to the next level and helps them to really visualize where their hands go.

 Moving on to Digital Keyboard Practice

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

 I absolutely love this resource for my youngest students. They get to practice their sight words and the color coded rows really nail down their understanding of the keyboard layout. I'm talking going from spending 60 seconds to find a letter down to like 10 seconds or less. Game changer!! By the way this file comes with the template for you to make your own words, too.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
Preparing students to take a standardized test on a computer can be really intimidating. 3rd graders can still barely type 5 words per minute! I work through a unit on the "Special Keys" to make sure that students will be able to do mathematical computations, proper grammar, and use the symbols correctly. This is a really important step so that their technology literacy doesn't get in the way of their ability to perform on the tests.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

Make Keyboarding Engaging with Goals and Competition

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
One of the best ways I have found to encourage students to practice their typing skills is having a leader board displayed.
Managing this with 500+ students doesn't have to be difficult. I print out and laminate blank flash drive pieces and have students write in their own names with a dry or wet erase marker. This makes it independent for students to add and move their own names as they progress.

I also think it is helpful for students to track their own progress. I have a blog post here about how I do a "Typing Olympics" bootcamp in 3rd grade every year.

While there aren't any official lists of words per minute goals, these have worked well for me:
2nd grade: 5 WPM
3rd grade: 10 WPM
4th grade: 15 WPM
5th grade: 20 WPM

At this rate I expect at least 95% accuracy for everyone. If I have any students significantly above the WPM expectations, I slow them down to where they can type with 100% accuracy.

This isn't the popular opinion, but I don't harp on perfect hand position and posture. I do ask students to use all of their fingers and keep their hands near the keys, but don't require them to be perfect. In 5th grade I start to point it out more that they will be more efficient if they follow the hand position guidelines.


Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students
It is so important to keep practicing keyboarding! I have my 4th and 5th graders start class with 10 minutes of fun typing practice on game sites (you can find my list of keyboarding practice sites here and feel free to use it with your students).

I also always keep a few copies of printable keyboard coloring pages available for early finishers, last-minute sub plans, days when the wifi is down, etc.

Keyboarding games online are always a choice for early finishers.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

These technology vocabulary typing activities have become a favorite of my students.

How do you teach your elementary students to type? I'd love to hear if you do it in a similar way or totally differently.

Keyboarding Tips and Tricks for Typing with Elementary Students

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Creating Stations in the Tech Lab


We talk about learning stations all the time in the Technology Teacher Tribe Facebook Group. The question usually sounds something like "I've been thinking about trying stations in technology class, but where do I start?"

We talk about learning stations all the time in the Technology Teacher Tribe Facebook Group. The question usually sounds something like "I've been thinking about trying stations in technology class, but where do I start?"
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Logistics for stations in the tech lab
There are a lot of options when it comes to setting up stations in the tech lab. You certainly can't do it wrong, but there are some tried and true methods worth considering.

  • Will you have multiple stations going on at once? 
  • Will you need to change out materials between classes? 
  • Are you going to need devices charged ahead of time?
  • What space(s) will students be able to use for the stations?
  • Will instructions be given digitally or on paper?

These are a few questions to ask yourself before you dive in. The answers could mean different requirements for supplies and activities. Thinking of how to give directions and students' physical location during stations is the most challenging part.

I'm going to write as though there are multiple stations happening all at the same time. If you would like to do it across multiple sessions with students, just adjust my plans accordingly.

Organizing stations into Rounds seems to be a popular method, and is one that has worked really well for me. I plan 2 lessons at a time but I've seen people do 3 or more if you have the space. Each week (session) half of the class completes their assigned round and then they do the other one the next week. This works particularly well if you don't have enough devices for everyone to use them at the same time.

We talk about learning stations all the time in the Technology Teacher Tribe Facebook Group. The question usually sounds something like "I've been thinking about trying stations in technology class, but where do I start?"
Doing rounds requires some planning to get everyone on task quickly. It would be easy to give everyone directions and then send them on their way, but then you'd have to give the same directions again next time (students just don't remember). Instead, all of my directions for the group on the computers are done via screencasts. I wrote a blog post here about the methods I use to create a modified-flipped classroom. By having the directions screencasted, I don't have to give any direct instruction for this round. I can focus on the other round(s) happening simultaneously.

I happen to love doing a physical activity in the tech lab. Whether it be a tech themed board game, green screen videos, robotics, or scanning QR codes in a scavenger hunt, giving students a hands-on learning experience can be very meaningful. It is also great for our collaboration standards. Check out the activities section of this blog post for my specific recommendations.

supplies for stations in the tech lab
Supplies for stations in the tech lab make my teacher heart happy. We all know the feeling of being overlooked when it comes to classroom supplies. Don't be shy about asking students to bring in a few things like a notebook, glue sticks, and crayons. It holds them responsible for being prepared for class, and gets them excited about what you all could possibly be doing.

I have a section of my Amazon Recommendations Page for Tech Lab Supplies. This is where I link to the stuff that I've tried and love. The STEM Makerspace Supplies section has more of the crafty stuff too, if that is the direction you're going with your stations.

You're going to need to plan a physical layout too. Do you need flexible seating or lab tables? Do you have the cords you need for the devices? Where are your directions for the day going to be? All students will need to be able to see them at all times.

Separating spaces with a rug or some painter's tape can be really helpful for students. They need boundaries.
Activities at stations in the tech lab
Ok yay! Now we get to talk about what students are actually doing at the stations.

Ideas for the computer station:


Facilitating the Computer Stations should be your easiest task. By doing screencast instructions ahead of time, students at the computers should be 90% independent.
We talk about learning stations all the time in the Technology Teacher Tribe Facebook Group. The question usually sounds something like "I've been thinking about trying stations in technology class, but where do I start?"

Ideas for the physical station:

It is particularly important for elementary students to have a mix of online and offline activities. Hopefully this list gives you some inspiration!
tips and tricks for stations in the tech lab
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of having stations in the tech lab:

Decide ahead of time if you want to have written directions printed out or projected digitally. 

Keep the template the same every time. Choose a layout that works well for you to show what the station options are and a space to remind students of the expectations. Each week or session change out just the directions that are different.

I've found that having physical separation between station activities is really helpful. Even if everyone is working on devices that session, have different areas in the room for the different stations. When you're moving around to facilitate, it will be much easier this way. 

Keeping materials organized can be a challenge. Label bins for your physical supplies so that your students can help with the passing out and picking up process. 

If your students will need passwords to access the programs, have that planned out ahead of time. Place cards at the station or have it included in the directions for that session. A majority of students won't remember passwords from week to week so I always provide them. 

 Don't let classes leave until the lab is back in it's original state (or better). The last thing you need is to have to pick up between classes when the next class has already arrived. Use the prior group to help you get ready for the next one. 

Ok what am I forgetting? Have you tried stations in the elementary tech lab? Tell me about it!


We talk about learning stations all the time in the Technology Teacher Tribe Facebook Group. The question usually sounds something like "I've been thinking about trying stations in technology class, but where do I start?"

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Review of the Parent Communication App ClassTag


Learning about ClassTag truly made my job so much easier. The app allows me to streamline any engagement and communication I have with my student’s parents.
This is a sponsored post by ClassTag. All opinions are my own. 

Daily tasks, such as, lesson planning, instructing, and grading don’t even begin to cover the duties and responsibilities of a teacher. Many days, we find ourselves falling asleep on the keyboard. Teaching can be one of the most rewarding professions, but I often find myself searching for tips and tricks in hopes of creating a more manageable position. Although I am proud to identify myself as a teacher, I craved more organization and balance in my day-to-day life. It was during this time when I discovered an app called ClassTag.


Why All Teachers need ClassTag

Learning about ClassTag truly made my job so much easier. The app allows me to streamline any engagement and communication I have with my student’s parents. 
As an example, I used to spend many hours every week creating my classroom newsletter. This typically included reminders regarding upcoming events, testing dates, requests and various announcements. Once my newsletters were printed out and sent home with students, I often sat back, crossing my fingers, optimistically trusting they’d actually make it out of their backpacks and into their parent’s hands. 
Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case. As I would usually receive numerous phone calls and emails packed full of parent questions and concerns. I quickly recognized my student’s backpacks were similar to that of black holes. Just because it goes in, doesn’t guarantee it will ever make its way out!


The ClassTag app now allows me to post all classroom information with my students and their families through our online classroom portal. 
I normally post reminders concerning no-school days, early dismissal times, upcoming classroom parties, and field trips. ClassTag has also simplified the (previously) daunting task of requesting parent volunteers, chaperons, or classroom donations. This task alone used to take weeks of preparation and groundwork. Returning signed documents was rarely an easy-going feat for most students. In fact, this normally involved me spending even more time developing and sending home further reminders! Many teachers have also been confronted by a similar challenge when organizing parents-teacher conferences. 
Again, keeping track of my student’s sign-up sheets was demanding and hectic. Most of the time, the returned documents were covered in parent’s notes and questions. The back and forth communication via paper made it very difficult to stay well organized. The ClassTag app now allows parents to virtually sign-up on the dates and times provided. Instead of having parents show up at the wrong time or during another families conference, there is no longer confusion about their assigned timeslot.

ClassTag Rewards

As if ClassTag doesn’t already sound appealing, just wait until I tell you about the rewards you can earn just for using the app! If you’re a teacher, then you know how costly classroom supplies and materials can quickly add up. In my case, I work for a non-profit charter school. Sadly, many of our students are currently living in poverty and can’t afford common classroom supplies. 
Before using the ClassTag app, I found myself stopping at the store on a monthly basis to buy pencils, erasers, stickers, glue sticks, hygienic products, and more. 

Fortunately, the ClassTag rewards program allows you to earn coins for your classroom by simply engaging in parent interaction and referring other teachers to signup and use the app! The more ClassTag Coins you accumulate each month, the more FREE supplies your classroom receives! 
Learning about ClassTag truly made my job so much easier. The app allows me to streamline any engagement and communication I have with my student’s parents.
Not to mention, all of the gratitude and appreciation your teacher friends will express after experiencing all that ClassTag has to offer!


Utilizing the ClassTag app has transformed my career as a teacher. I now have more time to focus on my students and their individual needs. I also find myself less stressed, which means I can focus fewer thoughts on at-home correspondences and more thoughts on creative teaching strategies. 
My students are truly benefiting from this app, as I am improving and growing as an educator. If you haven’t already, try out the ClassTag app for yourself. Students, their families and your busy schedule will thank you! 
Connect with ClassTag on Social Media: 



Learning about ClassTag truly made my job so much easier. The app allows me to streamline any engagement and communication I have with my student’s parents.


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Teaching Keyboard Shortcuts Made Easy


Teaching Keyboard Shortcuts Made Easy

You know that feeling when you learn something new and then can't believe you hadn't thought of it before? Well, that is how I feel about this project. 

I've always hung posters for the keyboard shortcuts so that students could see them at all times. I thought this was enough, but students were still either doing things the long way or asking repeatedly what the shortcuts were. NO MORE!


By having students create their own keyboard shortcuts posters and make them visual, they really stick! 

I picked 16 of the most helpful (in my experience) keyboard shortcuts for this project. It doesn't take students long to make the posters once they get started, but plan on this taking multiple sessions. 



Options for this project

1. Assign 4 shortcuts to each student if you have limited time. This way they at least master 4 of them and everyone in the class can help each other in the future because all 16 shortcuts are covered. 
2. Group project. Allow students to work in groups and choose how to split up the list to get them all done. 
3. Multiple sessions project - Have students create a template (like the example posters) and then just plug in the visuals and keys for each keyboard shortcut. It will still take them multiple sessions but it really cuts down on the time to have each poster basically the same. 
4. Creative poster contest! This one is probably my favorite. Students create the very best posters they can, knowing that you're going to choose only a few of them to be printed and hung in the lab/classroom. Watch their creativity soar. 

I recommend this project for grades 4 and 5 if you do it digitally, but younger students could make paper posters and still learn the keyboard shortcuts. You could also have them work in Google Draw or any other graphics program. I am partial to Slides/PowerPoint because that is where I'm most comfortable. There is really no wrong way to do this. 

Ok, want the template? It is in my Free Resource Library on the TRY page. If you already have an account, go there now. 

If not, register for your free account and then dive in to all of the goodies!

If you do this project with your students, I would LOVE to see their finished examples. Share them on social media and tag me or email me the photos when you get a chance. 


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Weekly Tech Lab Lesson Plans


My goal with this is to free you up to take care of the other important things in your tech teacher life. Don't let your lesson plans stress you out!
The question comes up in the Technology Teacher Tribe Facebook Group again and again. "What are you teaching to {insert grade level here} right now?"

So, I put together weekly plans for the tech lab for grades K-5. These plans include everything you need so that the planning is done for you.

Click here to register for the free resource library and download the PDF versions.
(Once you're registered, navigate to https://www.k5technologycurriculum.com/free-resource-library/try/ to download all 4 quarters)

  • I Can Statements
  • Warm Ups
  • Main Activity
  • Early Finisher Activities
  • Back Up Plans
My goal with this is to free you up to take care of the other important things in your tech teacher life. Don't let your lesson plans stress you out!
Here is week 1. All of the resources I am using are linked (to get the clickable PDF version of quarters 1, 2, and 3,  register for my free resource library and then find the PDFs in the TRY section).


In addition to not having to figure out which activities to complete each week, these lesson plans also give you an overview of how I weave in other great activities along with my elementary technology curriculum.

These plans are designed for a 45 minute session once a week. About 85% of students complete the main activity in this amount of time. I always remind them that if they finish a lesson early they can go back and finish up previous lessons. 

My goal with this is to free you up to take care of the other important things in your tech teacher life. Don't let your lesson plans stress you out!
As you can imagine, each year ends up a bit different due to calendars and school schedules. With these plans so well mapped out I'm able to simply move activities between weeks as needed. If the teachers at my school want to team up for a few weeks on a collaborative project, I just slip it into my plans and move other things around.

The I Can Statements are just one that works for that lesson for the week. I usually display a few for each grade level so that students can see the big picture of what they are learning. I wrote a blog post about Tech I Can Statements here if you'd like to take a look.

The Warm Up activities are a mix of Tech Themed Read Aloud Books (amazon affiliate links), demos of the lesson, whole group interactive whiteboard games, review of a previous concept, and typing practice for the older students.

The Main Activities come from my resources, including many weeks of my elementary technology curriculum.

The Early Finishers activities are great learning game websites, reading through the classroom library picture books, some offline printable tech activities, and finishing work from previous weeks.

The Back Up plans are an offline option for when the tech doesn't cooperate. I suggest many tech board games, robots, and printable activities that are great to have on hand for situations like this. The back up plan doesn't cover the same standards as that week's lesson always so if you need to use one, make sure to move around your planned lessons to fit that standard in another time. 


My goal with this is to free you up to take care of the other important things in your tech teacher life. Don't let your lesson plans stress you out!
Having it all visualized really helps me and makes my weekends so much more relaxing. 

My goal with this is to free you up to take care of the other important things in your tech teacher life. Don't let your lesson plans stress you out!
You might have noticed that I didn't link to any standards. I want this to be as flexible for you as possible so you can match up the skills with your own state's technology standards. The I can statements will help you see which of your standards fit, though there are always multiple standards being worked in in every lesson.

How the Clickable Tech Lab Lesson Plans work

When you download the clickable PDF versions, all of the images link to where you can purchase the resource, whether through my site or on Amazon (for the books and the tech toys).
My goal with this is to free you up to take care of the other important things in your tech teacher life. Don't let your lesson plans stress you out!


Use these weekly plans to get ideas of what to work on with your students. This is certainly not the only way to teach these units and we always have to be flexible with our schedules because things come up. 

My goal with this is to free you up to take care of the other important things in your tech teacher life. Don't let your lesson plans stress you out!

I hope this helps to get you started. Click here to register for the free resource library and download the PDF versions.
(Once you're registered, navigate to https://www.k5technologycurriculum.com/free-resource-library/try/ to download all 4 quarters)

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