There’s been quite the lively conversation about finding meaningful ways to engage students during typing time, so I’m thinking it definitely demands some more thought. Some people were concerned there isn’t enough time, or that the teachers won’t reinforce practical typing experience in the classroom. While that’s valid (I’ve seen many teachers leave the lab thinking there’s no need to reinforce what I’ve taught), I’m still very much behind the idea of allowing students to “chat” during typing time. No, not turn to your neighboor and chat, but use an internet chat program to interact with other students in the classroom, or around the country.
What’s that you say? A scary proposal I make? That’s why I’m so gung-ho about the possibility of using Gaggle, or a similar chat program, to practice our typing skills in a real world setting. The fifth grader’s here need something more than the simple typing program with cartoon characters, and they definitely need to know that I think they’re capable of more. However, with Gaggle there’s the whole registration process for each student, so I’m thinking now that perhaps there’s another chat program out there I could use, one that I could turn on or off when neccessary, and have it be login-free so students can just type and press enter, no registering or logging in. Kidzworld has free chat, but it’s a register process too. Of course there’s a nice chat plugin for WordPress, so the kids could just chat here on my blog, and then I turn the chat feature off when not in use so the students aren’t chatting anonymously at home or outside of the lab. However, that chat is just a tiny box.
With a bit more searching, and hopefully a lucky break or two, I’m hoping to find a free chat program out there that I can use as a “drop-in” chat. Sort of like the chat feature on Frappr, only Frappr is blocked at school 🙁