Wednesday, March 4, 2009

RU keepn ^ w/yr studnts?

I can't help but cringe when I read text messages or instant message chat. I'm not quite sure why. It might be because usually when I read this abbreviated language it is inappropriately in essays, stories, and exams written by my students. I'm sure I'm not the only teacher that shares this experience. Or, it might be because I know that my students spend more time chatting on instant messenger than on their homework. Or, it might be because part of George Orwell's prophetic novel 1984 warned about the simplification of language. Is text messaging a form of Newspeak? Or, it could be that I feel left out.

Nonetheless, text messaging has a legitimate place in today's English classroom. Despite my anxieties, text messaging and instant messaging chat provide excellent teaching opportunities. There is an endless list of possible of ways to include text messaging in the classroom.
  • Discuss and explore the affordances of instant messaging.
  • Create a dictionary for text messages and instant messages. An activity focused on text messages will help students make the distinction between it and proper spelling and grammar.
  • Have students invent a new texting word. Text messaging is a language created and used by youths. Students should be proud of their texting ability, not ashamed.
  • Read books that use text messaging to build literacy skills. Recently, I bought a few books from Lauren Myracle's Internet Girls series, including TTYL; TTFN; and L8R, G8R. The books are written entirely in IM (instant messages) and are a big hit with teens.

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