Sunday, April 7, 2013

10 Free Typing Practice Activities for Students

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who was looking for some typing games that her elementary school students can play to practice their touch typing skills. I've reviewed a lot of online typing practice activities over the years, but it has been more than a year since I updated my list. So this evening I put together an updated list of online typing practice activities for students.

Type Rocket is a free typing game from ABCya. Type Rocket is a sixty second game in which students make fireworks explode by typing the letters that appear on the rockets in the games. In the sixty second span of the game students try to correctly type as many letters as they possibly can. The rockets speed up as the game progresses.

Z-Type is a simple and fun typing game. The game has an easy level and a difficult level. The game is played the same way on both levels. To play Z-Type all that you have to do is go to the website and type the words that are falling from the top of the screen. When you have correctly typed a word a laser shoots it. The object is to shoot the words before they reach the bottom of the screen.

If you want students to take a break from the games, have them use Typing Speed Monitor for Google Chrome. Typing Speed Monitor is a Google Chrome extension that will track how fast you type and what keys you use most frequently. If you do a lot of writing online, Typing Speed Monitor is one way to get accurate feedback on your typing proficiency in real-world settings. The latest version of Typing Speed Monitor allows you to opt out of having it track your typing on domains you specify. For example, if you don't want it to track how fast you type on Facebook, you can exclude that domain.

Typing Adventure is a nice little game that young students can use to practice their typing skills. To play the game students just have to visit the game site, read the directions, and press start. The game scenario presented to students is a character leaping from stepping stone to stepping stone. To move along the path students have to type the letters of the stones they want to jump to. Students earn points based on speed and accuracy.

Good Typing is a free online typing skill development program. Good Typing provides 27 graduated lessons designed to help students learn to use their entire keyboards correctly. Unlike some free online typing programs, Good Typing offers support twenty different keyboard styles including US style, Japanese style, and several European languages.

Dance Mat Typing is a nice little resource from the BBC. Young students (four to eight years old) can receive clear, informative typing instruction through Dance Mat Typing. There are four levels for students to work through. Within each level there are multiple lessons and practice activities. The very first lesson that students receive is placement of their hands on the keyboard. Each lesson and practice activity offers instant feedback in visual and audio form.

Word Games offers a large collection of online word games and typing games. The word games range from simple word searches and crosswords to games that require players to complete sentences and phrases. The typing games are a mix of simple sentence typing for speed and games that require accuracy to "defend" a character or move a character through a scene. Some of the games featured on Word Games can be either downloaded to your computer, see Typing Defense, others can be embedded into your blog or website.

Typing Web is an online typing tutorial that provides instant feedback after every free typing lesson. Typing Web offers beginner through advanced typing lessons for free. You can register to track your progress or you can use Typing Web without registering.

Listen and Write is a great way for students to improve their typing skills and hear about the news. Listen and Write plays short audio clips of news stories and users type what they hear. The audio clips are relatively short, come in a few different levels, and registered users can track their progress.
 
Power Typing hosts a small collection of five typing games that students can use to develop their typing skills. Power Typing also offers typing lessons for Qwerty and Dvorak keyboards. The two games that I found easiest to access are Alphabetic Rain and See Don't.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

About.me Now Supports Embedded Video and Audio

Last month I wrote an article for School Library Journal in which I suggested having high school students create digital resumes on About.me to share as part of a college admissions application or an internship application. About.me makes it easy to quickly create a one page site highlighting your strengths, things you've published online, and your preferred contact information (you can see me sample page here).

This week About.me added support for embedding YouTube, Vimeo, and SoudCloud files into your page. This is a great option for students who are hoping to find employment or internships in the media production field. Students can prominently feature their best videos and or podcasts on their About.me pages.

Week In Review - The First Flowers of Spring

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters in Greenwood, Maine. It's starting to kind of look like spring here, there is still some snow on the ground and plenty of mud everywhere (my house might not be free of mud until June), but the first flowers of spring popped-up this morning. Seeing the flowers pop-up makes me feel like summer can't be too far away. Speaking of summer, I've had quite a few people ask me where I'll be presenting this summer. I will be publishing a list of my summer presentations and workshops very soon (there are still some details to finalize on a couple of events).

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. A Short Guide to Finding and Using Media On Your Blog - Part 3
2. Mission Map Quest - Create Your Own Geography Games
3. How to Subscribe to New Blogs in Feedly
4. A Short Guide to Finding and Using Media On Your Blog - Part 2
5. A Good Collection of 13 Digital Citizenship Resources
6. 7 Good Virtual Tours for Students
7. How to Create YouTube Photo Slideshows - A Good Alternative to Animoto

Would you like to have me to visit your school this year? 
Click here for information about my professional development services.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Fresno Pacific University offers online courses for teachers.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
Vocabulary Spelling City offers spelling practice activities that you can customize.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
ABCya.com is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
Lesley University offers quality online graduate programs for teachers.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher.org is hosting workshops in Atlanta, Chicago, and Boston this summer.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
Join more than 55,000 others who subscribe via these links.
Subscribe via RSSSubscribe via Email.
Like Free Technology for Teachers on  Facebook.
Find me on Twitter, on Google+, or on Pinterest.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Scoot & Doodle - Drawing and Mind Mapping in Google+ Hangouts

Scoot & Doodle is a fun Google+ Hangout application that Kyle Pace recently introduced to me. Scoot & Doodle provides a blank canvas on which you can draw, stamp, and type. You can hangout and collaborate with up to nine people at a time on Scoot & Doodle. You can save each of your canvases in a Scoot & Doodle scrapbook. See how it works in the video below.


Applications for Education
Scoot & Doodle could be a good tool for creating free-hand mind maps, to explain how to solve a mathematics problem, or to just have fun creating drawings to use in a presentation.

Pin-a-note - Sticky Notes for Your Windows 8 Start Screen

The more I use Windows 8 the more I get the hang of the shortcuts and the utility of the start screen. This morning I added a new utility to the start screen, sticky notes. Pin-a-note is a free Windows 8 app that you can use to write and pin sticky notes to your start screen. Pin-a-note is a simple sticky note application that doesn't have a color coding option, but it does everything else that I use sticky notes for on my Windows 7 computer and on my MacBook.

Applications for Education
If your school is starting to use Windows 8 computers and tablets, you're probably looking to continue to use some of your favorite productivity tools on this new operating system. Pin-a-note brings the commonly used sticky notes to Windows 8.