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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

IF U CN RD THS U CN LRN TO RITE:
From texting to producing clear, comprehensible writing
Ann Stephenson

At the beginning of the school year, how many of you will assign the inevitable  “What I did on my summer vacation,” and then start the process of trying to decipher not only what your students wrote “syntactilly,” but also their handwriting as well?

Why not begin with something they already know. No, not where they left off in the previous grade, but text messaging, since this has probably been their mode of writing all summer.  This form of communication developed from chat rooms and bulletin boards where users would abbreviate words in order for them to be typed more quickly and thus save time.  Cell phone users who do not have a keyboard expanded this shorthand.

Write the prompt on the board or Smart Board. If you don’t want to hear about their exciting summer then ask them what they expect to achieve this year or any other prompt to get them interested. The only difference is they must write it in text. For those who may not be familiar with text writing, elicit samples from the class and write them on the board. Explain that this is a shortened form of communicating, but does have a place in the scheme of writing. It can help them throughout the year when taking notes, writing a rough draft, etc. If there is a Smart Board available, allow a student to type a text message and have the class read it aloud. Be sure the texting is generic and understandable by all, including the teacher. The students may copy these text symbols or make up some new ones.

Examples:  U R N 5 GRD = You are in the 5th Grade.
txt msg = text message
thx = thanks
UR welcm = you’re welcome
smmr vacashn = summer vacation
dsny wrld = Disney World

After the students have finished it’s time to ask them to “translate” their writing to a different form called prose, business writing, formal, essay, copy, or composition, to name a few. In essence, it is a clear, developed form of writing with understandable syntax, spelling, and punctuation. These three competencies would be sufficient to begin the year, depending on the age level of the students.

This would be a good time to review with them the meaning and use of a Rubric. This sample may be used or write one to fit your purpose. It doesn’t necessarily have to count for a grade yet. To further assist the students, allow them to use dictionaries to look up the spelling and meaning of words and review simple punctuation with them.

Writing Rubric

 

1

2

3

Grade

Syntax

Sentences are incomplete

Sentences contain subject and predicate

Sentences are varied: simple and compound

 

Punctuation

Little, if any punctuation is used

Some punctuation is missing

Includes periods, question marks, capital letters

 

Spelling

Many words are misspelled

Some words are spelled correctly

Most words are spelled correctly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

Keep the assignment short as most of the students will want to read their stories aloud.

As the year progresses, the Rubric may be enlarged and even hung on the wall so the children are aware of what is expected of them each time they are given a writing assignment.

And the reward for you is that you will finally learn how to text.

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail me.

 

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