For some families, text messaging reflects a "digital divide" between generations. Find an article, photo or ad illustrating another pop culture area that may separate students and parents.
Reading the paper regularly builds skills in spelling, grammar and other subjects. Show an example of content that adds or reinforces knowledge.
Texting shorthand is hardly the only common instance of a group language. See if you can spot jargon or slang used by politicians, athletes, business executives or – yes – journalists.
The good news is that parents say their teens write more than previous generations did. The flip side is concern that informal – or in4mal – communication via e-mail and instant messages lowers the quality of students' writing because of carefree spelling, casual punctuation, loose grammar and use of initials in place of words. Can NE1 say OMG?
Students who write daily on BlackBerry and Motorola Razr phones don't always switch to formal English in school, a new national study confirms. Phone interviews with 700 teens and their parents by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that two-thirds of middle school and high school students have accidentally used text-messaging style in academic work. Half confessed to informal punctuation and grammar. A quarter admitted they’ve turned in papers with smiley faces and other emoticons.
Lax and loose writing doesn't make adults LOL. "It's like nails on a chalkboard for the teacher. When people's vocabulary becomes abbreviated, you therefore think less," says Carol Miloszewski, who teaches high school English in Allegheny, Pa.
Though educators use red pens and grade penalties to combat what some call "fast-food English," the spread of digital shorthand doesn’t alarm the new study’s senior researcher. "This is what I would term a new slang," says Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Project. "We've always had slang. This is different only in that the language comes out of text instead of spoken language, which is how most of our slang has emerged in the past."
Student says: "I'll forget I'm writing a formal paper. I'll replace 'for' with the number 4. It'll just come out by itself without me thinking about it. But when I proofread, I laugh when I see it." -- Vivek Musinipally, San Jose high school senior
Researcher says: "The teachable moment for parents and teachers is to talk about what makes informal writing and what makes formal writing -- and what's appropriate in each." -- Amanda Lenhart, Pew Research Center
Educator says: "We are very pleased to see how much writing is going on outside of school. The amount of writing -- rich, varied and connected to Internet content -- is good news. The challenge is how can we get that kind of excitement and engagement in schools?" -- Richard Sterling, National Writing Project director
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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