TXT MSGS R GR8T! WDYT? (Translation: Text messages are great! What do you think?)

According to Jacquie Ream, the author of K.I.S.S. Keep it Short and Simple, text messaging and tweeting are destroying the way our students read, write, and think. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that only a fourth of high school seniors are proficient writers. Students spend more time writing in 280 characters or less and find it difficult to critically analyze or elaborate on an idea.

While this may be true, the problem isn’t with texting itself; it’s that students are using “texting conventions” in everything they write. They need to learn about code switching–how to switch from informal, texting rules to more traditional rules depending on the writing purpose and audience. Kristina Smekens developed a writing conventions scale to help them see the different levels of formality. Teach your students when it’s appropriate to use more formal conventions (e.g., school assignments, state assessments, etc.). Follow the sample sentences at the bottom of the download to see the same message written in a variety of convention levels.

If texting is your students’ love language, why not capitalize on it? Here are two strategies to try:

  1. Have them practice their spelling and grammar skills by translating a recent (school appropriate) text message into standard English. Kristi McCullough, one of Smekens Education literacy consultants, developed this idea and created an accompanying text me handout.
  2. Texting can also be a great way to teach note taking. Your students don’t need to take a course to learn how to write shorthand; they do it all the time. Encourage them to use texting conventions when taking notes in class. The only one who has to read and understand their notes are the students themselves.

For a free listing of texting abbreviations, visit this website.

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