Posted in Assistive Technology, Eleanor Cawley, M.S., OTR/L, Occupational Therapy

Keyboarding 101

Photo Credit:  Michael Maggs
Photo Credit: Michael Maggs

For the purposes of this series on Keyboarding, I will be referring to the standard QWERTY keyboard and 2-button mouse (with center scroll).  The information in this post comes from my memory of past investigations of keyboarding and computer skills.  I researched this topic quite extensively, reviewing the programs of a large number of districts throughout the United States and the standards outlined in ISTE, all of which I found on-line.

The Early Years (Pre-K)

Early computer skills include:

  • Developing accurate mouse skills (accurately reaching and clicking on the target)
  • Activating programming buttons using the mouse
  • Developing attention to the screen and the activity
  • Using ‘POWER’ keys, such as ‘ENTER,’ ‘TAB,’ and ‘SPACE BAR.’
  • Beginning letter recognition by depressing the requested key on the keyboard

When working with little ones, I used to use “Reader Rabbit.”  The kids loved the “Follow Me Theater.”  This is still available from Amazon and has worked on my Windows 7 computers, I am not sure about Windows 8.  This is the type of programming that can support learning, imitation and fine motor movement, in addition to learning mouse skills.  By Kindergarten, kids should be able to recognize and find all the letters in their first name.   He or she should also be able to capitalize the first letter of their name and use lowercase for the remainder of the letters.  Children , at this age, should be able to recognize and identify at least 20 letters [upper and lower case].  It is also a good idea, at this time, to experiment with different fonts–form consistency.

Be very careful not to make the computer the only activity that your child enjoys.  Limit computer time to 10 minutes or so.  Encourage plenty of gross and fine motor activities to prevent your child from developing a sedentary lifestyle.


Posted in Assistive Technology

-Using OneNote to take Notes in Secondary Schools and College

Another of my favorite therapy areas is teaching students how to take notes.  Taking notes is not easy.  Students must be able to respond to auditory cues with a pen/pencil or a keyboard.  Some students feel the need to take down every word, while others can take down the highlights.  Since I am an occupational therapist, my job is to teach students how to respond to environmental cues with movement.  So I would like to talk about taking notes in my favorite note-taking program, OneNote.

There are a number of reasons to set up note – taking templates or forms in OneNote.  For example, this T-Chart can be used for a number of different classes and discussions within a class.  Prompts that may indicate that a T-Chart should be used are:  Compare/Contrast; Conversely; Vocabulary Words/Definitions; Pros/Cons, etc.  This note-taking template can also be used for pre-algebra/algebra or anywhere where there is a rule and a sample.  The Cornell style of note-taking also uses a asymmetrical T-Chart for cues and notes.

Simple T-Chart created from a table and saved as a template
Simple T-Chart created from a table and saved as a template

Much of the job is already done for the student.  The page is already formatted for the student.  I find that formatting is often part of the delay and disorganization in taking notes.  If you click on the date, a little calendar appears and the date can be easily changed (calendar will indicate the correct date).  The same can be done for the time. Rows can easily be added to the table by clicking on the appropriate icon in the ribbon at the top of the screen or by right-click and then click on Table.  The color of the page and print can also be changed to address any visual concerns.

The real trick is learning the verbal prompts so that the appropriate form can be identified and opened.  The great part of this system is that this is an auto-save program!  If the student closes the program before saving, the work will still be there.  Another factor to consider is keyboarding speed and accuracy.  Figure out if the student can take dictation on the keyboard accurately before recommending this method to any student.