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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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News-O-Matic: New non-fiction delivered to your classroom every day!

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, Government, History, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 14-07-2014

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News-O-Matic: New non-fiction delivered to your class every day!

What it is: Press 4 Kids, News-O-Matic is both a subscription-based app and a free daily email delivered in pdf format. News-O-Matic is a fantastic current event, news source for elementary students. It is a great resource for fresh, non-fiction material for your classroom. Recall, discussion, and comprehension questions are included in each News-O-Matic. You can purchase an app subscription for your class in the 1:1 iDevice setting, or you can subscribe for the FREE daily school edition which is delivered by email. The PDF can be printed out to share with your students, or to keep your class paperless, you can share it on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

How to integrate News-O-Matic in your classroom: News-O-Matic delivers a daily newspaper written especially for elementary-age students. Each edition comes with 5 current-event, news stories that cover the latest news, science, sports, and wacky kids stories. Students get a chance to not only read the news, but also rate articles, submit questions, and submit their drawings. News-O-Matic is  a great way to keep your students reading regularly. Each day they will get engaging non-fiction reading that helps build a global perspective. Use News-O-Matic daily, as a class discussion starter. Challenge your students to make connections between the current events they are reading about, and the learning they are doing in class. Integrate geography study with reading each day. If you have a classroom map, put a place marker on it each time you read an article that is location specific. This could also be done virtually with Google Earth. This practice will help students visualize where each event takes place, while at the same time building geography skills.

Tips: All publications are ad free, so you never have to worry about inappropriate content.

The school app edition of News-O-Matic is $9.99 and can be found here.

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