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Typing Olympics

This year I am teaching 3rd- 5th grade only.  My remaining time is spent helping teachers to integrate technology in their classrooms effectively and supporting our new Promethean boards.  I see my students once a week for 35 minutes.  Any of you that teach a specials class know that at least 5 minutes of class is spent getting students ready to learn after the hallway transition.  This leaves me with 30 minutes with my students.  In that 30 minutes I have to teach a lesson and give students an opportunity to practice it on the computer.  In a school year I see my students a total of 24 times (that is if we never have a snow day, or lose a day due to field trips or special events).  I love teaching my students how to use technology as a tool to help them learn.  I do not want to spend my time with them typing.  Although typing is a valuable skill for them to learn, there is SO much more than our brand new iMacs can do.  My other hang up with spending computer class focused on typing is that I still only see my students 24 times in a school year.  Even if we spent every class typing, I don’t feel like this is adequate time to really learn and build touch typing skills. My solution was to come up with a typing competition that will take one class period.  I call it the Typing Olympics.  I make a BIG deal out of this day.  We have opening ceremonies, olympic fanfare music, and even paper doves.  Students compete against each other to find out who is the fastest touch typist with the greatest accuracy in each class.  There are two gold winners, one boy and one girl.  The winners receive a gold medal in the closing ceremonies along with a break dresscode pass (these are like gold to our students!).  There are also silver and bronze winners who receive medals.  The students know that the Typing Olympics happens in the spring.  We talk in class extensively about how hard athletes like Michael Phelps have to train before the Olympics.  At this point I give students the goal to train for our Typing Olympics.  This year I decided to create a special website for the training and created a Typing Training Club.  Students can visit the site for links to websites that will help build their typing skills.  There is also a blog page where I give students suggestions about which keys to practice each week building up to the Typing Olympics.  This helps break down practice into a manageable skill each week.  We type in class one day prior to the Olympics.  The rest is up to them.  For my students, a break dress code day is enough incentive to practice typing on their own time.  Obviously, some students will take this more seriously than others.  For our situation, I think this is our best option for building touch typing skills.  I have some students who can type at 53 WPM and some at 8 WPM, but at least we have learned more during the year than just touch typing.  I suspect I would get similar results even if we used the 24 classes in the year for typing practice. What are you doing at your school to build touch typing skills?

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Picturing the Thirties

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 11-10-2009

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What it is: Picturing the Thirties is another great virtual web activity from the Smithsonian.  This virtual museum exhibit teaches students about the 1930’s through eight exhibitions.  Students will learn about the Great Depression, The New Deal, The Country, Industry, Labor, The City, Leisure, and American People in the 1930’s.  Art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum are supplemented with other primary sources such as photographs, newsreels, and artist memorabilia.  Students can explore the virtual exhibits complete with museum guides that explain each exhibit to students.  The feature presentation of the museum is a series of interviews of abstract artists describing the 1930’s.  User created documentaries can be viewed from the theater’s balcony.  Students can visit the theater’s projection booth where they can find primary access and a movie making tutorial.

How to integrate Picturing the Thirties into the classroom: I am always amazed by the virtual content that the Smithsonian has produced.  Picturing the Thirties is an incredible virtual field trip to museum exhibits that will put your students face to face with primary resources that will help them understand the events and culture of the 1930’s.  This is SO much better than learning from a textbook!  This interactive site is a great way for students to explore the 1930’s and learn at their own pace.  This site is perfect for the computer lab environment where every student has access to a computer.  You could also take a class virtual field trip to the museum using an interactive whiteboard or a projector.

Tips: Make sure that students have headphones or speakers for this website, there is quite a bit of audio content.

Related Resources: Smithsonian Virtual Museum, UPM Virtual Forest, efield Trips

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Picturing the Thirties in your classroom.

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