So we're told the average office worker in the US could save the equivalent of 8 days a year by using keyboard shortcuts over reaching for the mouse every time. Have a read here to find out more.
I am a big fan of keyboard shortcuts - doing anything in a more efficient way has got to be a good thing. I try and tell my children about them as and when I can throughout our lessons together, but the other day, with a Year 4 class, it seemed like the right thing to do to unplug all the computer mice/computer mouses (take your pick) and declare the day:
NO MOUSE FRIDAY!
This forced even those less confident computer users into using a suitable keyboard shortcut or method to solve the problem I had set them - to log on to the network, open a browser, log on to their email account and send an email.
Taking each of the three main areas in turn, the children had to use a number of 'tricks':
Area 1 - logging on to network
Area 2 - opening Chrome and accessing Gmail
1. Pressing [Windows Key] to open Start menu
2. Arrow keys and [Enter] to select Google Chrome
3. Ctrl-L to access omnibox to type gmail.com
Area 3 - signing in to Gmail; composing and sending email
1. Using [Tab] to move around the options; pressing [Space] to select something if their keyboard shortcuts didn't work (some anomaly with our system!)
2. 'C' to compose a message, [Tab] again through the various fields; [Shift]-[Tab] do go backwards
3. [Ctrl]-[Enter] to send a message
At which point 'normal service' was resumed. That was if they could work out how to plug the mouse back in again!
QwertyTown is the Sumdog of the typing world, and that is meant as a great compliment. The website aims to teach that all-important skill of typing in a way that is motivating, enjoyable and meaningful for children.
As a teacher, set-up is easy, and a free 30-day trial is available. Real-time feedback is available when you track your classes, as below, and enables you to see who is doing well and who is struggling, at a glance:
The children are picking up good habits from the beginning - and some will struggle with the notion of using their little finger to type the letter 'a' - but persevere and the benefits will be clear to see.
Another very useful feature is the ability to select your own Achievement Levels for what constitutes a gold, silver, or bronze medal. This means the site can differentiate effectively between older and younger classes - a gold medal for a Y2 child could be 10 wpm but for Y4 could be 15 wpm, for example. This means the children can be rewarded appropriately based on what might be expected for their age. That is for you to decide as a teacher:
The gaming elements stop this site from becoming 'just another typing ' - and will keep your students motivated way beyond the classroom. Performances in the keyboard drills are rewarded with Qwerty Coins - the more accurate and nimble, the greater the reward. These are used to customise an avatar with a range of clothing and accessories:
So, give it a go. You'll be working out how to pay for a subscription....!