This is awesome!

Link to Text Translator

For my multi genre paper, I wanted to use Text language as one of the genres, but I’m not a very experienced Texter…I found this cool website where you can translate back and forth from Text to Standard English and English to Text! Woo Hoo!

Published in: on April 17, 2007 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Final Reflection

For a technically challenged, older student, I’m actually feeling quite proud of what I’ve learned this semester! I have: created a blog, opened a Myspace, learned (in ED 205) how to do Power Point, Excel, create a Webquest and a website, plus, I have learned a ton about Instant Message language.
As a parent, I’m continually fascinated by the mode of communication between my daughters and their friends. They don’t talk on the phone like I used to with my friends (partially because they don’t have their own cell phones yet). They chat via instant messaging on the computer. They can type faster than I could at their ages, without taking a formal typing class as I did in High School. I am amazed at how far technology has come, and how it has changed our ability to communicate.

Much debate has gone on over Instant Message/Text language, and its affect on Standard English grammar. Many teachers and grammarians are up in arms over IM showing up in students’ work. However, I believe most students know how to switch between modes of writing, just as they do communication, depending on the context. Humans are capable of code-switching, learning multiple languages, and determining what is appropriate in certain situations. While I still believe there is a time and a place for everything, and IM shouldn’t regularly show up in school work, there are, and should be, opportunities for students to express themselves through this language they have so creatively, and yes, systematically come up with to fit our computer age communications.

I’m sure it would be difficult to convince many teachers, parents, and administrators the effectiveness and potential of IM’s use in the classroom; however, as I’ve said in many of my posts before: we aren’t going to turn back time and get rid of IM language and technology, so why not embrace them both and use them as tools to get our students writing! I can definitely envision IM as a writing genre, allowing students to take pride in, and explore creativity through their writing.

Published in: on April 15, 2007 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Comments throughout the semester

Here are links to my comments!

Comment 1
Comment 2
Comment 3
Comment 4
Comment 5
Comment 6
Comment 7
Comment 8
Comment 9
Comment 10

Published in: on April 15, 2007 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Technology and Teaching

I really enjoyed the Bright Ideas Conference yesterday. The three sessions I attended all tied together with using the Internet and technology to teach. The first session, Virtual Worlds for Teaching, was all about using the Internet to create virtual worlds. Students have the opportunity through these virtual literary worlds to step into, and embody a character through role playing. Through this, they explore the cultural, historical context, and setting of a particular book or play.

The second session I attended was “macBeth.” This was another very interesting session for me. I had actually been planning my lession plan as a multi-genre writing assignment after reading and discussing Macbeth, to have students explore characters through writing. I was thinking about changing my mind because it’s coming down to the wire and I really don’t have anything done…which is so not like me! This session re-motivated me to use MACBETH. The teacher leading this session used a Power Point production to create links to characters, again, allowing students to embody and analyze these characters through their writings and interactions with other characters. Through textual intervention, they are able to recreate scenes and bring to life, even very minor characters in the play. Another teacher who led this session had her students write scripts through a characters point of view. They brainstormed and planned these scripts in groups, then recorded them using iMovie, garageband, Google, network drive, and a video camera. Both of these sessions were a great lead in to David and Bethany’s session “Whose Space is it?”

David and Bethany did a great job explaining the benefits of Myspace, and how to use it productively in a classroom. Unfortunately, most schools have Myspace access blocked on their computers. That’s where we need to step in as future educaters and teachers to convince school boards and administrators of the benefits of using Myspace as a learning tool in classrooms. In a digital age, where students are attached to cell phones, computers, Facebook, and Myspace, we may as well take advantage of this writing tool to get students actively involved in the Literature they are reading. I love the idea of using Myspace as a social network for characters! What a great way for students to embody the character and make the text relevant to today. I was very impressed with David and Bethany’s presentation and, hopefully, as secondary English teachers, we will be able to use Myspace as a teaching tool for Literature and writing in the near future.

Published in: on April 15, 2007 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

im-so-faithful-dad.jpg

I’ll have to write a poem about him using IM! Then it might fit with my blog!

Isn’t he cute????

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 9:10 pm  Comments (2)  

IM As Poetry

I have had a difficult time finding information validating IM language as a writing genre until today!!! YES!
I came across a website: The Guardian Unlimited, that actually has information on a poetry competition using Instant Message as a genre! I’m so excited! As a writing teacher, if I could actually get away with it, I would love to implement IM as a genre, but how would I begin to know how to grade it if I’m not very familiar with the language myself? There has to be a method to decipher it, or maybe one just has to use the language to become familiar with it beyond the usual ttyl, brb, u, 4, 2 r u there, and so forth. Here is an example of a winning poem:

The winning poem
txtin iz messin,
mi headn’me englis,
try2rite essays,
they all come out txtis.
gran not plsed w/letters shes getn,
swears i wrote better
b4 comin2uni.
&she’s african
Hetty Hughes

If you follow this link, you can read many more examples.

I question: Does everything go? What is acceptable and what is not? How would I begin to grade a poem such as this? In a link to what the judges said, I found some answers. Judge, U A Fanthorpe writes:

Clearly, the text poem has become an established form, and it has a headstart because of its brevity. Many poems fail because they go on too long; some of these got by with hardly any words at all. I found that invigorating. When words, or time, are limited, urgent sentiments come to the surface . . . Congratulations to the Guardian on sowing this new poetic seed.

I don’t know if I would claim the text poem as an established form yet, but I see the potential of it quickly becoming one. I imagine the same qualities of traditional poetry would be expected, such as symbolism, imagery, metaphors, rhythm, etc. How would one grade content? Would text poems revolve around teenage lives just as their text messaging does? What a great way for a teacher to get to know her/his students! I believe content is important for a good poem, and for a teenager reading another teenager’s poetry, it’s important to be able to identify with the voice. I think text poems are a great way to spark creativity, understanding, and community among the teacher and the students. Peter Sansom, another judge writes about Text poems:

Text poems are a new genre, a bit like haiku, only interesting. . . . It’s a way of breaking down the Us and Them of verse, allowing people into the charmed Circle. . . . Text poems are fresh, bang up to date, and the best of them fit [Ezra] Pound’s definition of poetry as news that stays news.

While I wouldn’t allow Text language for all assignments, I am excited about the possibility of allowing students some freedom to use it in some of their work. I believe that, when given the freedom to express themselves in a meaningful way, in a language that is important to them, students will produce some pretty cool work. Another judge of the poetry competition, Peter Florence, writes:

The poems that seemed best-suited to the competition were those that were either beautifully crafted versions of the sort of text messages we receive every day, using the limits of the genre, or those that played with the idea of language and phones.

full article

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 8:45 pm  Comments (10)  

Not productive classroom use of text language!

text-cartoon.jpg

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 3:14 pm  Comments (3)  

Ebonics and IM speak

When I was a child and teenager, some of my best friends were black. I attended a small Christian school which was made up of approximately equal percentages of blacks and whites. I even took a Black Gospel choir class. Even though I spent many years around Ebonics, that one semester choir class was the closest I ever came to speaking it. Looking back, I’m thankful for the exposure and acceptance I experienced at a young age of the African-American race. Where is this taking me? While I was exposed to, and was friends with many black families, I never attempted to speak Ebonics. I don’t think I judged it as a “lazy” way of speaking; however, it would have felt foreign for me to try to speak it. I see many similarities between the way many feel about Ebonics and the newly created IM language. I find myself fascinated with the new IM language used by many teenagers.  Just as Ebonics, this innovative and technologically necessary IM language is perceived by many to be a lazy way of writing. However, if one takes the time to look up an instant message/text dictionary, he will soon realize that it takes some effort to become familiar with its ever growing lexicon. It doesn’t look like IM language is going to disappear in the near future; so, I ask the question: could a writing teacher be successful implementing IM speak in a multi-genre lesson?

I am creating a multi-genre lesson plan using IM as one of the genres. The students will have an opportunity to include an IM dialogue in their multi-genre piece which, I believe, will spark creativity. With the ever increasing use of technology, I don’t believe we should ignore the use of IM speak; it will not just disappear. On the other hand, what if we were to take the same approach with IM speak that John Rickford writes about in “Suite For Ebony and Phonics.” He describes the program used by Oakland School in California in its Standard English Proficiency Program, with the point being “not to teach Ebonics as a distinct language but to use it as a tool to increase mastery of Standard English among Ebonics speakers.” Could a teacher implement the same idea in a writing classroom using IM language?
Perhaps if, as Rickford writes, “the differences in the student vernacular [IM] and Standard English were made explicit rather than completely ignored,” students would increase their proficiency in Standard English.

I realize there is a big difference between Ebonics and Text language; however, I believe there are possibilities worth exploring. We often witness an increased native language proficiency in second language learners. For example, as I became more proficient in Spanish syntax, I more clearly understood that of English. I never had a firm grasp on direct/indirect objects until I took Spanish. To connect Ebonics further to IM vernacular, I would like to explore the claim of linguist David Crystal. In his essay, “Instant Messaging: The Language of Youth Literacy,” David Craig quotes Crystal:

To play with language requires that, at some level of consciousness, a person has sensed what is normal and is prepared to deviate from it . . . Language players are in effect operating within two linguistic worlds at once . . . It therefore seems very likely that, the greater our ability to play with language, the more we will reinforce our . . . meta-linguistic skills, and—ultimately—the more advanced will be our command of language as a whole. (124)

Crystal’s view of IM speak seems to reinforce Rickford’s statement. Again, perhaps if we choose to use IM as a tool to make Standard English rules more explicit and clear, along with allowing students some freedom, in some assignments, to write in IM speak, we could have a positive impact on this technological language that, no matter how much ridicule from teachers, parents and grammarians, is not going to go away. 

Rickford, John. Suite for Ebony and Phonics

Boothe’s essay

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 11:10 pm  Comments (4)  

IM: Language Builder or Buster

Everybody from the usual concerned parent ot the local librarian seems to have a negative comment on the state of literacy today, and many of them pin the blame on new technology. . . . When asked what they perceive to be the cause of this situation, most of the doomsayers point straight at new inventions, such as email, cell phones, and instant messaging, wholeheartedly believing them to be the source of any perceived decline in youth literacy. . . . Every old generation slips into the trap of condemning the language of the youth . . . Although history provides a constant reminder that youth culture is most likely not getting worse, there is an undeniable, visceral tendency to believe that it is.

David Craig wrote the previous statements in the opening of his paper entitled “Instant Messaging: The Language of Youth Literacy.”Craig wrote his essay while he was a student at Stanford University, and was able to persuade his writing professors with real observations proving that English is not in decline as a result of Instant Messaging. I will discuss some of his main points that further convinced me that Instant Messaging is a new, innovative form of English, invented mostly by teenagers. Craig brings up the arguments of many teachers and grammarians, and systematically refutes them. He writes:

Instant messaging, according to many, threatens youth literacy because it creates and compounds undesirable reading and writing habits [and] damages students’ abilities to employ regular, formal literary skills.

I don’t know if Craig is/was a student of linguistics; however, he seems to have an informed linguistic’s approach to his rebuttal, when he claims that these doomsayers do not have the right, nor the proof to pin the cause of youth literacy problems soley on Instant Messaging. On the other hand, Craig claims:

Instant messaging is a beneficial force in the development of youth literacy because it promotes regular contact with words, the use of a written medium for communication, the learning of an alternative literacy, and a greater level of comfort with phonetics and the overall structure of language.

In his research, Craig analyzed 11,341 lines of Instant Message text from conversations between youth in the United States between the ages of 12 and 17. The participants were not aware of the fact he was using their texts for research, and all of his collected transcripts remained unedited. He concluded that there are four types of slang used in Instant Messaging conversations: phonetic replacements, acronyms, abbreviations, and inanities. Craig doesn’t overlook claims from teachers that this new vernacular is creeping into writing assigments. He quotes teacher, Debbie Frost:

You would be shocked at the writing I see, It’s pretty scary. I don’t get cohesive thoughts, I don’t get sentences, they don’t capitalize, and they have a lot of misspellings and bad grammar. With all those glaring mistakes, it’s hard to see the content.

As a future teacher, I cannot ignore the frustration of this teacher, nor can I say that I wouldn’t feel the same way. However, I believe students are capable of using different languages in different contexts. Humans have always adapted different ways of speaking, or their language use, depending on their particular social setting. I believe a select few students who are letting the lingo slip into their schoolwork are giving the naysayers the ammunition they need to discredit Instant Messaging. Craig claims:

If students employ their instant messaging literacy in the wrong settings, it is because their other, scholarly literacies have not been attended to well enough. It is not, however, because IM has damaged their literary abilities or prevented the formation of these abilities.

Craig admits that English literacy has declined over the years, while math skills among students have increased; however, he says there are other explanations for this. Perhaps it is just easiest to point the finger at the youth, their newly created language, and technology. Craig delves further into his research:

The possibility of instant messaging causing such a decline is not worth considering when the modern statistics on English education for united States youths send such a clear message. There is no reason to blame anything other than our schools’ lack of focus on the teaching of Standard English skills.

Could this lack of focus by our schools be the problem? Is “teaching to the test” forcing teachers to focus on so many other topics that the basic skills are getting over looked? I won’t know the answer to that until I look into it further. This article by Craig is very informative and interesting. Craig also looks at Instant Messaging as building students’ metalinguistic abilities by aquiring another literacy. He quotes linguist, David Crystal:

To play with language requires that, at some level of consciousness, a person has sensed what is normal and is prepared to deviate from it . . . Language players are in effect operating within two linguistic worlds at once, the normal and the abnormal . . . It therefore seems very likely that, the greater our ability to play with language, the more we will reinforceour . . . metalinguistic skills, and -ultimately-the more advanced will be our command of language as a whole.

If literacy in America is declining among our youth, perhaps we need to take a deeper look into the reasons why, and not blame the easiest target, Instant Messaging.

full article

Published in: on February 28, 2007 at 9:59 pm  Comments (5)  

Erase or Embrace

It seems that teachers have differing opinions on the use of Text language. Some take a totally negative approach, believing it needs to be eradicated, while others seem to embrace the creativity of a younger generation. I believe different situations call for different uses of language, and in a formal written assignment, a student should use standard English. However, perhaps teachers can allow students more creativity and choices in free writing assignments. Would a student feel empowered if he had such a choice? Would his own unique voice come through more clearly? He would definitely have an audience of interested peers even though they may be the only ones included in this special community of writers. What’s the harm in that? In an article in Orlando’s Herald Tribune, reporter Jim Ellis quotes a student who admits she uses IM language in her homework:

I write like that in the rough draft, but I try to catch the mistakes before I turn in the final draft.

Ellis quotes differing points of view from educators. I appreciated the following, from David Warlick, 54, of Raleigh, N.C. who, Ellis writes, sees the young burgeoning band of instant messengers as a phenomenon that should be celebrated:

Teachers should credit their students with inventing a new language that is perfect for communicating in a high-tech world . . . I would encourage teachers to assign writing assignments that allow IM-speak. We need to respect the language to the point that we sometimes allow it. [Another teacher writes] I want to see students produce. I want to get them writing. If they don’t put their own spin on their work, then it’s not theirs anymore.

While kids need a firm grasp on proper English usage in writing and speaking to succeed in the real world, I don’t believe it is harmful for them to embrace a new language that, I believe, most likely won’t show up in college level work.

 full article

Interesting listen from NPR: Text Language

Published in: on February 26, 2007 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment