3 On Txtng

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • May
  • 13
  • 2008

Students feeling a little disconnected? Find it hard to get them reading? I have just the thing. There are three rounds to this conversation and it all leads up to some in-class writing. I’ve spread this out across a few days. We began on Friday, continued Monday, will pick it back up on Wednesday, and complete the writing on Thursday. Each day was twenty to thirty minutes, allowing time for us to work on other things for the remaining time. This works well in chunks, not all at once (sorry for figuring that out later in the day, fourth period!).

I need to work out a nice graphic organizer for this, but for now you should be able to get away with a t-chart made by folding a regular piece of paper like a hot dog (not a hamburger). Label the left side with a big minus sign, the right with a plus sign.

The Goods

3 On Txtng: Word, PDF

Day One

Reading: the revenge of e.e. cummings
Total Time: 10 mins.

The first of the three articles is just to get the ideas flowing and the conversation started. Just hand out the article with something like “Hey! Check this out!” Don’t give any instructions and just watch as they read and talk about it on their own.

Your students will trip out on that as they struggle to figure out what things mean and are startled to find out that one of their peers knows (“It means ‘Too Good To Be True’!”). After reading, they’ll likely act insulted. “Who writes like this? That’s crazy. We use correct spelling and punctuation. We don’t write ‘dis.’ Only twelve year olds do that.”

Drop the bomb on them by telling them that the general public would believe that ‘L8R’ and lack of punctuation is a hallmark of text messaging. “Idiots,” they mutter. Perfect.

Day Two

Reading: Texting damages standards in English, says chief examiner
Total Time: 20 mins.

Explain that the next article is about how texting impacts education in Ireland. In the Word and PDF versions of the article, I inserted a sentence explaining what the Junior Cert is, just to help out. Tell the students that, as they are reading, they should take notes: write a minus on the left side of the page next to every idea in the story suggesting something bad about text messaging. Write a plus on the right side of the page next to every positive idea. Give them three to four minutes to read silently.

Time’s up and everyone should drop their pen(cil)s. For one minute, groups will talk to each other about what they saw in the article. What ideas came up? What was negative and positive? Just talk first.

Now’s time to build that t-chart (hot dog, not hamburger, remember?). Just like the notes students took during reading, the left side of the t-chart is for cons and the right side is for pros. Next, groups need to decide what to write on their t-charts. Now that they’ve talked about the ideas in the article, everyone will write the same thing on their charts, so agree on the wording. No one will quote any of the articles. All wording on the t-chart must be their own. The goal is to have three pros and three cons based on this article. Give ’em five minutes.

Share out ideas in whatever way works for you. Encourage students to take notes while their peers are talking. I do so by holding a kind of competition. “How many do you have on the con side?” I say. “‘Cause I got eleven different things. What did you get?” They want to show that you take worse notes than they do, trust me.

Say, “Skip about five lines underneath what you last wrote on your chart and draw a horizontal line.” Later, these lines will help keep track of where the different ideas came from.

Day Three

Reading: Linguists mixed on effects of text messaging
Total Time: 30 mins.

Now that they are all ready for the next article, introduce it with a refresher: you’ve read one general article explaining text messaging and one mostly about the cons of it. This third article suggests that the jury is still out on whether or not texting negatively impacts writing.

Comb through this article silently the same way you worked through article two: minus signs on the left and plus signs on the right. Four to five minutes later, you should be ready to share out in small groups, putting writing instruments down in favor of simply discussing the article. Give another minute there, as well as about another five to create a list of four pros and four cons based on this article. Remember, four this time. Always keep that number growing, never shrinking.

Again, share out with your preferred method.

Say, “Skip about five lines underneath what you last wrote on your chart and draw a horizontal line.”

Now it’s time to move to purely anecdotal evidence. Give them about three minutes to simply talk about all the pros and cons of text messaging based on their own observations. Let the conversations go if they are on topic. Now give another five minutes to get five pros and five cons based on their own experiences (five, five, five). The other lists have been based on what they read in articles. This list will be based on their lives. Again, everyone in the group needs to write the same things so members must agree on wording.

Day Four

Total Time: 30 mins.

Today’s the day of truth. We’ve talked for a few days and you have an organizer with all kinds of information on it. In 25 minutes, respond to the following:

Agree Or Disagree: Text messaging harms academic written communication.

After briefly summarizing the points expressed in “Texting damages standards in English, says chief examiner” and “Linguists mixed on effects of text messaging,” provide your own opinion on the impact text messaging has on written English in academic settings. Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

I haven’t made it to day four yet, but I’m crossing my fingers, hoping that this writing is strong. Each day we read, the students seem really into it and you’d need a decibel-reading microscope to pick up a single sound. I’m open to comments, suggestions, observations, complaints, and questions.

Comments are closed.