Simon Luxford-Moore, principal teacher and e-learning co-ordinator at ESMS in Scotland says, “KAZ stands apart from other touch typing programs.”
Simon Luxford-Moore is the eLearning Coordinator at ESMS (Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools) in Edinburgh. Here he shares his experience of using KAZ Type, an online touch typing program.
By chance I came across Kaz at Bett. We had been using the same touch typing training program for years but it’s always been one of my mantras that there is always something better out there and our responsibility is to find what works for our learners. Our old program was very games based, noisy, lively and with a strong element of competition. While it was great fun, I felt that it was not meeting the needs of our children with dyslexia and ASD, as there were just too many things happening on-screen which could be quite distracting.
I was drawn to KAZ because they offer a neurodiverse version. I tend to work on the basis that if I can cater for that child with dyslexia or ASD everybody will benefit. I liked the fact that the CEO, Keene Braganza, had an incredible enthusiasm and love for the product which was infectious!
ESMS is one of the largest independent schools in Europe and we are in the lucky position of being able to cherry pick and test the best technology and see how it works with different groups. We have three different schools within our independent family of ESMS: ESMS Junior School, which has around 1200 pupils and there two secondary schools, Stewart’s Melville College for boys and The Mary Erskine School girls which each have around 800 pupils, so in total the school caters for about 2800 pupils.
KAZ agreed that we could trial the software, so we started with just one girl in Primary 5. She had wonderful creative ideas but because of her dyslexia she wrote very little and her handwriting was so poor that it was a real barrier to composition.
She was delighted to be chosen to trial KAZ and, as it has both visual and audio input and builds up muscle memory, it covers all the bases. The publicity claims that you’ll notice a difference after 15 minutes. They are right. After just a few minutes she looked up at me with a big smile on her face. She learned to touch type very quickly so we started using it more extensively. We wondered if KAZ might be a product that worked better for girls and boys in our Upper Primary years but we extended the trial to a Senior boy with dyslexia as well and they all really liked it and made progress. ‘The pressure was off,’ said one child and another commented, ‘I like the fact that I can make a mistake without it being highlighted or having to restart a level.’
We are about to roll out KAZ to children in Primary 4 to 7 (Years 5-8) in August, which equates to over 700 children, and we might roll it out to Primary 3 as well.
I always think of the writing process as being like your very first driving lesson. There is so much to remember and think about that new drivers find it hard to do everything at once. Our pupils, especially those with neurodiverse conditions, feel overloaded and under a lot of pressure until they develop a level of automaticity.
Thanks to KAZ, we can relieve some of the stress so children can focus on other aspects of the writing process. Touch typing lets children put down information in a digital form accurately and efficiently. Every child benefits and that is what the teachers and the parents want to see, as it is in the best interest of our children.
‘I think it has helped me a lot and I enjoy using it.’ – Lexi
‘It is great to be able to change the font and background colour.’ – Xander
‘I couldn’t believe how quickly I seemed to start touch-typing. In the first session I was able to type and look away from the screen!’ – Sophie