One of the standards that Kindergarten teachers typically overlook (due to time constraints, complications in the process, etc.) is Writing Standard 6, which says that we should students should explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing. This basically means, we need to let our students type out their writing on the computer. Although this task is seemingly difficult, it actually isn't too hard to implement, as long as it is introduced properly! When we give our students the electronic tools and the knowledge of how to use them, they really can succeed at meeting this standard!
Before writing about something on the computer, students need to know what they are writing about. After all, it is far easier for students to type something when they don't have to also think about what it might need to be!
I really like for my students to type their final drafts of writing.
In my classroom, final drafts are a masterpiece; what better way to commemorate your masterpiece than to publish it?
After getting the information, brainstorming, creating a rough draft, editing a rough draft and creating a final draft, students should definitely be familiar with that they are going to type. And since students have had those multiple experiences with the text of this final draft, the task of typing it should actually be a little easier!
This lesson is brief and is taught individually. For this mini-lesson, I sit at one of my student computers. I have students behind me in three rows- one row in short chairs, one row in tall chairs and the last row is standing. This way, all students can see the keyboard I am working with, without having to push or shove!
With all of the students around me, I begin telling them about the main 4 keys on the keyboard- the space key, the shift key, the enter key and the backspace key.
"Right now, I am going to show you guys the keys that you will need to use the most when you're typing."
"First, you need to know about this long, rectangular key at the bottom of the keyboard" (pointing)- this is the space bar. The space bar is, of course, how you make spaces between words. It is the largest key on the keyboard, so it is easy to remember."
"Now, let me show you another key. This key," (pointing) "This is the shift key. The shift key helps make letters capital. So, if I want to make any letter a capital one, I have to press that letter AND the shift key at the same time. Watch me."
(I act this out, while typing.) "I want to make the sentence, I am Ms. Smith. So I start with an i... Oops! I need for it to be capitalized. So, I will now press the shift key and the I at the same time" (wait time) "Look what happened! Now I have a capital I.... So, just remember that if you need a capital letter, you need to press shift AND your letter at the same time!"
"Let's move on to another key. This key right here," (pointing) "is called the backspace. It is called the backspace because it goes one space backwards at a time. So, if you mess something up, or if you accidentally type a lower-case letter where you need a capital letter, you can go backwards, one space at a time, to get rid of it. Let me show you!"
(I act this out, while typing.) "I want to type, I am a girl... but I accidentally type I am a grr. Hmmm." (wait time) "So, I will press my backspace button and take away my r, then I will press it again to get rid of the other r. Now, I can type i, r, l, like I wanted to. Now I have girl written the correct way! All I needed was the backspace button."
"Now, let me show you the last key that you are going to need to use sometimes." (pointing) "This is the enter key. The enter key goes down to the next line. We will use this sometimes to move to the following line. Let me show you when and how I would use this key."
(I act this out, while typing.) "I will type By: Ms. Smith, at the top. Then, I will need to move down to write my text. So, after I write By: Ms. Smith, I will press enter, and now I am on the next line. So the enter button will get me down to the next line, but only when I need it."
"Now, I know it can be tough to remember which buttons are where, so I am going to label these buttons so you can see them. I will put a capital I, green sticker on the shift key; because it makes the letters capital. I will now put an orange sticker with a down arrow on the enter key; because that arrow takes me down to the next line. Finally, I will put a pink, backwards arrow on the backspace key; because it takes me back one space at a time." (wait time) "Now, all of our buttons are labeled, so we are ready to type."
"From now on, you should be able to get your typing done without any help from me, as you can look at our labels for clues! So, when you bring your final drafts over here to type, you should be able to easily type out your writing. So, publishing should be easier for you!"
"If you're ready to be a published author, give me a thumbs up!"
(Students will give thumbs up.)
I will dismiss students back to the carpet.
Here is a tool I like to use to really push this lesson because it helps support this task while also allowing students to enjoy themselves!
In order to have ALL of my students publish their work, I have to plan things out very strategically. Since I have 3 computers in my classroom, I know that 3 students can type at one time. Usually, I plan on having one, 3-person typing session per day. Since I (luckily) only have 15 kids, I can get all of the final draft publishing for my entire class completed in one week. Each day, at snack time, I ask 3 students to take their final drafts and go publish them. Once students are done typing, I print out their final drafts and save them in their writing portfolios.
Here is a final draft that has been published by a student after they finished their own editing. Also, here is a final draft that was completed from rough draft to publishing independently.
When I assess students' published final drafts, I look for two things-
1- Does this published version match the final, written draft?
2- Does the published final draft show proper concepts of print (capital letters, spacing and punctuation)?
If published final drafts meet both of these key needs, I will allow the students to present their published version (instead of their written final draft). Also, if published final drafts look really good, I will let students take a copy of their awesome efforts home!
After students have practiced typing their final drafts regularly, for a few months, I let them type different things throughout the day (since they have the keyboarding exposure).
When students get work done early, I will let some of them go and type things for me- sometimes I tell them what to type and sometimes I allow them to "free type." But, I will not let students type independently during extra time unless they have mastered nice and focused typing skills with their final draft publishing.