If there is a single skill that can really help a student not only in high school but into college and later in life, it's the ability to type.
Typing can make it easier to write essays, correspondence and documents. It makes it easier and faster to perform any duties that require the ability to write quickly or produce anything at all in writing.
However, teaching students how to type isn't always easy. The task requires that special techniques are used that encourage memorization of keystrokes through practice and repetition.
A free open source application that can teach students learn how to type is Klavaro
The beauty of this application is that it takes students through 4 stages of learning how to type in one simple application. All four stages are immediately displayed when you first install and run the program.
Klavaro Main Screen
You can work through each of the stages from 0 through 4 in sequence, as though you were taking a full typing course. Or, if you prefer, you can skip around and practice each of the skills individually.
If you feel you need to type more quickly, you could use step 3 to improve your speed. If you want to improve your accuracy, then Adaptability will help you focus on individual keys. However, if you're just getting started with learning to type, the best flow is always from the Introduction down through to Fluidity as you master each level of the course.
Learning the Basics
The introduction walks the student carefully through understanding how to correctly type. This includes what fingers to use for each group of letters and how to correctly position your hands and fingers as you type.
Clicking "Next Step" will move on to the next set of instructions and the illustration that goes with it. Once you're ready to get started practicing what you've learned, just click on stage 1 - the basic course.
The basic course is nearly identical to what many high school students practice when they take their first typing class in school. These introductory practice sessions include alternating two or three letters. This repetitive typing seems tedious, but by its very nature it trains the brain to automatically use the correct finger to type that letter.
After enough practice, the student will be able to quickly type that letter without even thinking about it. In this stage, becoming proficient in typing really comes down to practice, so this application is a perfect tool to do that.
Stage two of the exercise sequence is called "Adaptability". This is the stage where the student learns to evolve beyond repetition and start responding to random letters that come up. At this stage, it's all about learning to respond correctly to each letter, despite the meaning of the words themselves. That's why the text in this section is all meaningless - the whole point is to practice just focusing on one letter at a time without any context. The contextual learning comes in the higher levels.
After every stage that students complete, there is a detailed review screen of all of the results. This final screen will tell you your accuracy, how many characters per second and most importantly how many words per minute. The Comments area will offer a bit of encouragement to keep practicing and make it to the next level.
On each course screen, if you click on the "Progress" button, you'll be able to review the history of your progress. This includes things like a graph of how your speed has changed (hopefully increased) over time. Each time you complete another practice session, another data point will be saved and added to these graphs.
Another nice feature is that you can completely customize the practice text display window by clicking on the "Font" button and changing the style of the font. This can include change the font type, whether it's bold or not, or even increasing the size of the text. This can be helpful, especially for people that may have poor eyesight.
Ranking in the Top 10
Another way that the application encourages improvement and progress is by integrating a "Top 10" score board. You can import scores from the Internet, and then compare your standings with other people. If you can improve your score, you might eventually make it into the global top 10 list!
Using Your Own Texts
Also, if you run out of practice sessions, or you would like to use a longer text document to practice with, you can always click on the "Other texts" button at the top of the practice window and just import your own text documents. This can be really helpful if there are certain types of documents or styles of writing that you're trying to focus on with your training.
Overall, Klavaro is professional enough that it can compete with some of the best typing tutor software packages out there. It will certainly accomplish the goal of teaching students how to type, and it will do it in a way that teaches the right techniques, and encourages regular practice and improvement.
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