Challenge 3. Breaking bad typing habits

Typing Tournament Character 14

The following information has been adapted from the Typing Tournament Guide To Best Classroom Practice.

Most students come to Typing Tournament with established poor typing habits. Children as young as two regularly interact with touchscreen devices and as they grow the approach taken becomes second nature. Unfortunately, these early exposures ingrain typing habits that can be difficult to break.

By the time students come to your class they may well also be resistant to learning a new approach that teaches them to use the keyboard as it was originally designed – with the right fingers on the right keys without looking at the keyboard.

Using the right fingers on the right keys is the biggest challenge

Students with established poor keyboard habits need to retrain their muscle memory in order to establish good typing habits.

Good teaching practice and supervision is invaluable

Typing Tournament senses certain attributes of each typist and uses this information to manage their progression. It also contains many encouragements, tips and guides designed to encourage the use of the right fingers on the right keys but it cannot determine which fingers are being used on which keys.

Ultimately only a vigilant teacher, teacher’s aide or other supervisor can ensure that students use the right fingers on the right keys. Some teachers use Typing Tournament as an unsupervised activity, often in small group rotations. In this context it is impossible for the teacher to supervise the use of the right fingers on the right keys. There are however strategies that can be implemented to compensate for this.

It is our strong recommendation that the introductory Typing Tournament sessions focus on the development of accuracy and use of the right fingers on the right keys. To achieve this there is no substitute for vigilante supervision and intervention where students are having difficulty. Resist the temptation to let the students type unsupervised – particularly in the introductory stages of the typing lessons. Time spent being vigilant early on will pay dividends.

Typing Tournament includes numerous instructions & encouragements to use the right fingers on the right keys. These include:

  • guided lessons at the start of each of the 16 levels
  • animated hands that model the correct finger placement
  • instructions to position the fingers on the home row to start drills and test

It remains important however that teachers complement these features with direct supervision and other strategies. Only for exceptional, self-motivated, focused students will these inbuilt encouragements be sufficient.

Jumping ahead is a common problem

Many students with poor keyboarding practice can easily pass the entry speed requirements for higher levels. This is part of the necessary design of Typing Tournament however it opens the door for those who really need to go back to basics to skip the early levels. When this happens they tend to progress easily to the middle levels but rarely make it past, say, Level 8 where the speed requirements start to increase: their technique is too inefficient to achieve the higher speeds without taking their eyes off the screen and looking at the keyboard.

Good teaching practice will see all students engaging in correct typing practice from the earliest levels and then progressing as they pass the speed and accuracy goals for each level in order. Take time to establish a good keyboarding culture and in time speed will follow.

Learning to type is like learning to play a musical instrument

When learning to play a musical instrument you start with simple music and ensure that you are using the right fingers on the right keys or strings. You learn your scales, focus on technique, and gradually progress to harder and harder pieces. Learning to type correctly is just the same. It’s easy to play chopsticks on a piano any way you like but you’ll never play a Beethoven concerto this way!

Suggested classroom strategies to ensure correct finger placement

  • Direct supervision: take the time to directly supervise the students’ initial use of Typing Tournament to ensure that they are using the right fingers on the right keys. Once correct practice has been established the supervision load will reduce.
  • Insist on the use of the right fingers on the right keys.
  • Student monitors: designate a member of the class to act as a monitor to check on and encourage other members of the class to use the right fingers on the right keys. Rotate monitors throughout the lesson.
  • Adult helper – teacher’s aide or parent: Organise a parent or teacher’s aide to help monitor students and encourage them to use correct finger placement.
  • Typing buddies: pair students and periodically have them observe the other and encourage them to use correct finger placement, correct posture and keeping their eyes on the screen. Change roles from time to time.
  • Whiteboard projection – finger placement: project Level 1 (Mountains) to a whiteboard and model the correct practice to the class.
  • Whiteboard projection – correct posture: project the “Posture Info” from the Typing Tournament Main Menu to a whiteboard; discuss and model with the class
  • Whole class discussion: regularly focus on the need for the use of all 10 fingers. Here are some approaches that have been found to be useful:
    • 10 helpers: talk with the class about the need to use all 10 fingers to get the job done. Use the illustration of digging a hole with 10 helpers with shovels. Q. What is the fastest way to get the job done? A. By getting all 10 helpers digging.
    • Playing a musical instrument: to play a musical instrument it is important to use the correct fingers and technique. The same is true with typing. Play with the wrong fingers and you will not be able to progress very far but practice correctly and you will be able to make wonderful music. It’s slow to learn at first but the rewards come later. The same is true of learning to type.


Students who have observed adults typing correctly are often motivated to type correctly themselves. In the home and school environment good models are often found. In most schools there will be at least one teacher or teacher’s aide with good skills. Using them as a role model has been shown to have great benefit.

For teachers with good typing skills

  • Project the Teacher Edition of Typing Tournament to the class whiteboard, unlock the map and type in any section of Typing Tournament.
  • Model typing on their own computer to the class.
  • Use the Typing Tournament speed tests to find the fastest teacher typist in the school and then challenge the students to better their score.

For teachers with poor typing skills

  • Be open about the problem and then start using Typing Tournament alongside the students and then share your progress with them. They will be proud of your achievements and you will learn to type at the same time!
  • Encourage the students to improve.
  • Encourage students with well-developed typing skills to model to others.

Storytelling and interviews

Many adults and older students have stories to tell about the frustration of not being able to type or the positive impact that good typing skills have made in their lives. Some can recount the difference that learning to touch type made once they acquired the skill. Share your own typing story with the class.

Invite others to share their typing story including:

  • The school principal
  • Other teachers
  • Parents or grandparents
  • Older brothers or sisters
  • Involve parents:
    • Many parents are willing and able to supervise the introductory stages of the typing programme. Parents can also support the teaching of typing in the home, since school subscriptions include home use for each student.
    • In a home environment it is often easier for attention to be given to student practice

Display the Typing Tips posters

Typing Tournament features a series of pdf posters designed to jazz up your classroom and help you to focus on teaching the crucial concepts that underpin good typing technique. The posters will assist you in raising students’ expectations of the typing speeds that can be achieved and give a sense of context to the acquisition of typing skills. Typing Tournament Online-Typing-Tips-Poster-Group

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