Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Learning Typing Skills with Christian Keyboarding for the Christian School

Keyboarding (aka Typing) is a crucial skill for kids to have in this computer dependent world. The old “hunt and peck” method, just won’t cut it when it comes to kids typing a paper for college or as an adult putting together a resume. The homeschool family may be able to get by with strictly hand-written papers, but that isn’t going to work out well  once the kids grow up!

Finding a good keyboarding program is the best means of acquiring the second nature skill of typing. I was recently sent Leanne Beitel’s Keyboarding for the Christian School, in PDF format, to review for the TOS Crew. 
First of all, my kids type quite well, so getting a feel for using this program from the ground up wasn’t going to happen. However, I did print out some more complex sentences and scriptures for the girls to try, as well as some practice on the number pad which I don’t think any of us have worked on memorizing.
A PDF book is easy to use, if you have never tried one before. You just store it on your computer, instead of on the bookshelf, and print out the pages you need for practice. Keyboarding for the Christian School is a “no-frills” instruction manual, with some black and white pictures or diagrams when necessary and very basic page layout. 
Maybe I have been brainwashed by years of color photos and interesting graphics, but for me, the book lacks a lot of flourish. I know, I know, that is not the point!!!! I am aware that there is much to be said about teaching kids sans all the bells and whistles...but I am just one that’s wired to like color and creativeness and I think it has rubbed off on my kids as well. (Maybe the big red and yellow swirl on our kitchen wall has something to do with it). When I contemplate handing the pages from Keyboarding for the Christian School to my kids to learn typing from scratch, as compared to the Typing Instructor CD that we used when they were little (full of graphics and games), it seems like giving them the choice between plain, boiled chicken and seasoned, marinated chicken off of the grill. Which one do you think they will prefer? 
Certainly an older child or adult could appreciate learning keyboarding for strictly the educational value in this keyboarding book, but even then, I think a computer CD-Rom would have more to offer if one was starting from the ground up with no typing skills.
On the other hand, when our kids need to type a paper that they have written, or maybe a quote out of a book, they do need to know how to look at the draft and transfer that to the computer. In this way, Keyboarding for the Christian School provides good practice. There are also scriptures provided throughout the book for many of the keyboarding exercises. However, this is something a parent could provide on their own. 
I hate for this to sound like a negative review because this really is a product that fulfills certain needs. The content is good and provides practice on many things that someone who is fluent with basic keyboarding could use for further typing expertise. Practice with Tabs and Columns and the number pad, as well as other lesser-used skills are tackled in the material. It seems geared toward helping with many Word-processing skills, which I must admit I have very little knowledge about the relevance of in this age of computers. 
But, for kids that are just learning basic, from scratch, keyboarding skills, I would say there would be much more appealing options on the market. However, if you are one that desires no-frills practicality (obviously not me) then this would be a good fit, as well as for those who wish to really work on things less straightforward than typing a paper, with greater Word Processing skills.
To look into Keyboarding for Christian the School further (it can be purchased for $15.95), and to see what other products are offered, check out the website by clicking here.

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.