Oklahoma City Public Schools students gain “college- and career-ready” typing (keyboarding) skills

The local school district’s first-ever Keyboarding Competition was fun, participants say – and it inspired students in grades 3-8 to master typing. In the age of computers that is an essential skill which is now required for online assessments. 

The “Key Bee” finals took place Tuesday, May 7, at Frederick Douglass Mid-High School. The finals marked culmination of the district’s multi-phase “Key Bee” typing competition. It began in January and involved more than 6,200 participants from across 37 schools. Rumble (the Oklahoma City Thunder mascot) greeted students and led a backstage warm-up for the competition. 

District sources told The City Sentinel, in a press release and follow-up exchange of notes, the high-energy night was filled with music and beaming parents and teachers cheering passionately for their competitors. Every participating finalist went home with a generous swag bag provided by numerous sponsors including Typing.com, the creator of the app and the program used for the Key Bee. 

“Keyboarding is an essential future-ready skill that is required in most career fields today. In Oklahoma, students as young as the fourth grade are now completing state assessments on a keyboard, so students who cannot type efficiently or effectively are at a distinct disadvantage,” said Christine Mueller, Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) Educational Technology Specialist and event organizer. 
She continued, “Our inaugural keyboarding bee is a fun way to motivate students to improve their typing skills, especially as the district continues to introduce more technology-enabled learning.”

During the spring, those 37 participating schools held their own “Key Bee” in which students competed with peers. Teachers were provided with a rubric that included scoring ideas and suggestions to assist in selecting school champions who were then invited to compete in the district finals. 
At the district championship, students challenged each other in two rounds of one-minute typing tests, with qualifying students advancing to the final event. 
In the end, trophies were awarded to the first, second, and third place at both levels: A Junior Grand Champion from grades 3-5 and a Senior Grand Champion from grades 6-8. 

The City Sentinel, in its June print edition, joined the district in extending Congratulations to this year’s winners. 
(WPM indicates the number of words per minute the indicated student was able to “type” (keyboard) 

Junior Grand Champion 
First place: Franklin Thiessen, 92 WPM, Cleveland Elementary
Second place: Van Akard, 58 WPM, Wilson Elementary
Third place: Tracy Huynh, 55 WPM, Southern Hills Elementary 

Senior Grand Champion
First place: Danikka Vo, 92 WPM, Hillcrest Elementary
Second place: Dontae Winslett, 79 WPM, Taft Middle School
Third place: Aniah McDonald, 64 WPM, Roosevelt Middle School

“The teachers are amazed at the progress students made in such a short amount of time! They were also pleased by the high level of student engagement with the Typing.com program which offers lessons as well as videos, awards, and games.” said Christine Mueller. 

OKCPS Key Bee was sponsored by Typing.com, Oklahoma City University, Girls Who Code, OnCue, Hopdoddy, Sonic, and Imagine Learning. (Follow along on social media using #OKCPSKeyBee.) 

About Oklahoma City Public School District: Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) is a multi-cultural district serving approximately 46,000 students. Students are educated throughout 55 neighborhood elementary schools, 16 secondary schools, two alternative schools and 15 charter schools located in a 135.5 square miles in the center of Oklahoma. The district employs approximately 4,600 administrators, teachers, and support personnel who serve a diverse student population. 

About Typing.com: Typing.com says that, in the 21st century, “typing is how communication happens. It is the core skill for interacting effectively with a computer, making it the number one communication skill in the digital world. Typing.com gives students the opportunity to learn this foundational skill in a relevant, gamified environment, where lessons and exercises are presented in the context of cross-curricular content and real-world tasks, and students practice their skills by playing real games where learning becomes a natural part of the game-playing experience and not an isolated, forced activity. Learn more about this free program, trust by more than 25 million teachers and students worldwide, by visiting Typing.com.” 
NOTE: Editor Pat McGuigan, publisher and editor of The City Sentinel, contributed to this report. This report also appears in the June 2019 print edition of the newspaper.