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Te Kotuituinga Mātauranga Pura o Aotearoa

Transferring touch typing skills to the classroom


Isaiah working in the school libraryIsaiah is 8 years old and has been learning to touch type using the BBC Dance Mat Typing programme.

He is using this new skill to participate and contribute to literacy activities alongside his class mates.

Kerry Albertini and Renée Jones describe how Isaiah has gained his new skills and some of the adaptations and teaching strategies they have used to ensure that the learning experience has been a good fit for Isaiah.

Background information

To access reading and writing activities in the classroom, Isaiah uses a CCTV, dome magnifier, a tactile ruler, and a large print dictionary. All these tools enlarge the text so that it is comfortable for Isaiah to access it independently.

Isaiah receives large print texts from the Homai library for his personal reading and also a desk copy of all board work is currently provided.

Ensuring ongoing access to literacy

Dance Mat Typing Programme

Figure 1 Isaiah is using the Dance Mat Typing Programme

Following a review of Isaiah’s vision, a recommendation was made to provide him with technology to support his ongoing access to both near and distance information.

As part of this support package, a decision was made for the Resource Teacher Vision to begin teaching touch typing skills to Isaiah at school on a twice weekly basis. Following some investigation the BBC Dance Mat Typing programme (fig. 1), an introduction to touch typing for children aged 7-11 years, was selected as the most appropriate programme for Isaiah.

Isaiah develops his touch typing skills

The BBC Dance Mat Typing programme was  downloaded onto the classroom Apple Mac laptop and also onto Isaiah’s home computer to enable him to practise further.

The colourful, interesting and rewarding musical graphics, as shown in Figure 1, have been very motivational and have captivated Isaiah’s interest.

Isaiah is working systematically through the four levels (12 stages) in order, and has now completed level three (stage 9). This term Isaiah has begun to transfer the skills he has developed to his classroom situation.

Using touch typing skills

Figure 2 Isaiah typing his weekly spelling list

This includes typing his weekly spelling list and spelling sentences as seen in figure 2.

Isaiah has demonstrated that he can transfer his touch typing skills in a written story using a font size that is easy for him to read.

Teaching and learning strategies and adaptations

Finding the right environment

The initial establishment of touch typing skills requires a high level of concentration from the learner. To minimise the distractions, we worked alongside Isaiah in the quiet environment of the school library for his two weekly lessons.

The environment enables Isaiah to enjoy the instruction and encouragement of the speakers as well as experience the reward of the song and dance in each stage without the use of headphones.

He needs to be seated at a table where there is adequate lighting without any glare coming onto the screen.

The touch typing programme is loaded onto the classroom Apple Mac laptop which Isaiah is familiar with and which is easily transported to the library. The laptop has a very clear accessible screen.

Finding the best resource

The main adaptation to the successful establishment of touch typing skills for Isaiah was in the choosing of an age appropriate, motivating and accessible programme. Once this was established Isaiah began to progress well.

The programme builds up skills gradually while continuing to reinforce the basic principles of learning to type. Rewards are built in and Isaiah looks forward to receiving these during each session.

Trialling laptop support stand

Figure 3 Trialling the laptop support stand


A further adaptation of placing the laptop on an angled stand was recently trialled and Isaiah found the repositioning helpful for his posture and access as seen in figure 3.

Useful links

Dance Mat Typing on the BBC website.

Typeability programme with JAWS for older students – YouTube.

More information

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We will link you up with either the author of this post or another BLENNZ colleague with whom you can continue your conversation.

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