If you’re lucky enough to be assigned a computer lab, chances are you probably are going to get hit with a section or two of a typing class. At least, that’s been my experience here in the good ol’ state of Texas. I always found it incredibly ironic that they would allow *me* to teach typing… and I often have to defend my typing skills to my students, who are quick to point out, “Ms. Z, YOU don’t type like that.”
Let’s face it. Typing is tedious, boring work. At the junior high level, it is often met with frustration and anger. No kid is going to sit still for 70+ minutes and just TYPE. So here are a few tricks I’ve discovered to make typing class the highlight of their day, instead of that period that makes them want to punch a computer. A lot of these activities could be incorporated into core classes as well with a little adaptation.
10 Activities to Make Typing A Little Less Tedious
1) Scattergories Warm-Up – Set a timer for 1 minute. Give the kids a category and have them type as many objects that they can think of. I actually raided my kids’ closets for old games, so I have set of Scattergories cards on hand for the task. I also teach in schools where students are considered “at-risk,” so I usually preface the exercise with the “school appropriate” warning. (When I announce the topic, there’s always a wave of junior high snickers due to their lack of maturity. I consider that a bonding moment).
2) Tag-Team Typing – Students pair up. Each team is given a sheet with material to dictate to their partner. At the end of two minutes, I yell “SWITCH!” and they must switch roles. This always ends up in a hysterical melee, often with the most competitive teams hyper-focused on the switch method. Continue as long as you can stand it. I find that 10-15 minutes is highly entertaining.
3) Collaborative Cookbook – Have students type up a recipe for their favorite food. I usually do this assignment near the end of the semester, and have students bring in the dish for an end-of-class party. In a culturally diverse school, this is a really cool thing; one of my classes has a strong South American presence, so it’s interesting to have students share their cultures through food. Inevitably, there is always one kid who brings a bowl of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, too.
4) Race Online – One of my favorite online typing sites is Nitro Type, an online, real-time typing competition. You even have the option to create your own team, but this will require you to do a little prep work of your own. It’s a great time-sink for your competitive kids or fast typers. Students earn points and “cash” to trick out their cars in the race garage.
5) You’ve Got Mail – I beg for stamps all the time, because this activity has the biggest pay-off. Have students write a letter to their favorite Disney character. Send it to: Walt Disney World Communications, P.O. Box 10040, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040, and they will receive an autographed postcard from the park. I’ve used this idea with The Houston Astros, The Houston Texans, and the New Orleans Saints with success as well. There’s something about getting a “real” letter in the mail that makes their day. You can also get in touch with several organizations that will be happy to correspond with your class. One year, all of my kids adopted a soldier, and another year we sent Christmas cards to a children’s hospital. I always do “Mail Call” after our warm-ups. The kids LOVE getting mail. (I’ve also been known to send letters to my kids as well, just to make sure everyone is getting something).
6) Song Lyrics – To this day, I can recite every single word of Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer.” Every. Single. Word. Every kid has a favorite song; at that age, we’re emotionally invested in music. Instead of letting it be a distraction, we embrace it. Have the kids type their favorite song lyrics. School appropriate, of course.
7) The Name Game – Students go around the room, saying their name. All students type the name as quickly as possible before moving on to the next name.
8) Rhyme Time – This one works a lot like Scattergories, but has the potential to be even more entertaining. You call out a word, and students race to type as many words that they can think of that rhymes with it. I encourage students to call the words out to help one another. Bonus: Have the students create a Dr. Seuss-inspired poem with one of the rhyme sets. I encourage students to make-up words when a suitable one is not available. These gems end up on a Seuss bulletin board in the hallway. Seriously. Funny.
9) Boggled – I have several Boggle-matrixes printed at the beginning of the year. When I need to kill time, I pull one of these babies out. Kids love the puzzle aspect of it. I usually reward the student with the most words with a prize.
10) 50 States Challenge – This one is easily modified for any list you want to reinforce with your kids. I start with states, then work on capital cities, then presidents. Students try to name all 50 states; I allow them to work as a class and call them out. As they add each state, they have to alphabetize them, so this adds to their copy/paste and selection skills.