Another good typing program, this time free…

When I’m asked for recommendations for typing programs, I often send people to Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor, because I know several young people who find the Viking mascot entertaining as he traipses about giving posture instructions and such.  I’m still a fan; even typing programs (or maybe especially?) are better with humor.  Ten Thumbs is $25.95 to download.

If you need it free, I like also this one. It’s online, and there are ads, but it works.

In both you can use your own text to practice; Ten Thumbs has a fun option of using songs pulled in from iTunes.


By hand

One of the casualties of the standardization of education and learning is the personal connection to learning and work.  I spoke recently with two families whose children struggle with writing by hand. One sits every day and makes his way through the practice, with an occasional eruption of dismay, but the result is considerably less than what he’s capable of.  And when he makes a mistake, he is more interested in what the paper does under the eraser (he doesn’t hold the paper still while he writes or erases, so the process tends to generate a dark gray smear if not a tear in the page).  The other refuses to hold her pencil the way she was taught, which not only irritates her parents but also makes the work take much longer.  It’s all lose-lose.

If only we could just get them to realize that they’re making it worse, right? It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask, that they practice, and we know they can do it if they just keep at it. But we often lose that battle. What if instead we decided that they’re trying to tell us that what we’ve been doing isn’t working, and could we please help them come up with another way to achieve whatever it is we’re after? Continue reading

Reference can help the brain do its best work

The other day I was sitting with an 8 year-old as she wrote out the date.  At one point she turned to look behind her at the analog clock on the wall.  “I always look at the clock to make sure my 9 is going the right way,” she told me.

Kids who know they’re prone to reversing letters often do a similar thing with the giant alphabets that hang in most elementary classrooms.  Here are a few other examples of reference options that can be helpful.

* a copy of the lower case letters, written out on wide-ruled paper with the dotted midline, for a child making the transition from all upper case

* a summary of the symbols used in a college math text

* the spellings of frequently used words

* the multiplication table

* the layout of the QWERTY keyboard

But aren’t these the things the students in question are supposed to be learning?  Won’t they not learn them if they’re just looking things up all the time?  Isn’t that cheating? Continue reading

Finger Memory?

I was trying out a typing program the other day and noticed that I had a lot of trouble typing series of letters that didn’t fit the patterns of English. I could fairly easily type something like daf, which followed an expectable consonant-vowel-consonant pattern, but I had trouble with the likes of fja. I’d consistently hit the a first, even when I knew perfectly well it was time for the j.  My left pinky was heading for it before I had a conscious opportunity to hold it back until I’d make it to the j.

I know perfectly well that the brain is capable of this sort of thing, but it never ceases to amaze me.

Need a Typing Tutor Program?

I’ve written before about Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor, which is the best typing learning/practice program I’ve found to date.  I’m on their mailing list and they’re doing a spring promotion in which the program is $9.99, a significant savings off the usual price. (I say significant because I don’t remember exactly how much it usually costs.)  Just thought I’d mention it in case anyone’s been considering it, or looking for a good affordable program.  You can do a trial of the program to see if it’s a good fit, and then decide whether to take them up on the price cut!  According to the email, 24 hours left.  The coupon code is SPRINGSALE.  Here’s the link to their site.

Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor

I often get requests for recommendations of good typing programs.  My first response is always that it depends heavily on the person who’s to be doing the typing, so if you can try things out before you buy them, you’re likely to get better results.  I am, however, a big fan of Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor, and I know more than one person under the age of 18 who’s enjoyed it as well.  It’s animated and has a sense of humor, but neither are done with condescension.  The program’s mascot is a cherubic-looking Viking.  There are speed tests, key-by-key lessons, and practice games.  You also have the option of linking up with iTunes to use song lyrics for practice.

The program is available for download or on compact disc and offers a free trial.  Let me know what you think…