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Combating 'Textisms' in the Classroom

The Valley News Dispatch, which covers New Kensington, Pa., reports that area educators have differing views on whether the advent of technology is hurting students' spelling skills.

English Teacher Ryann Barr told the paper he sees an "obvious" difference in spelling mistakes when his students handwrite an assignment as opposed to when they type in Microsoft Word using spell check. "I think it's this generation. [Spelling] is the least of their concerns at this point," says Barr.

Melissa Tungate, a curriculum leader, said that one of the most common spelling offenses she has seen in recent years is the word "you," which students shorten to "u" when they text one another or converse on social media sites. She adds that the "best way to combat poor grammar habits is to continue to teach students the appropriate way to communicate based on the audience and occasion."

However, there may be upsides to texting. Rae Ann Hirsh, director of Carlow University's Undergraduate Early Childhood Program, told the Dispatch that some people believe "textisms"—that is, abbreviations used when sending text messages, such as LOL (laugh out loud) and gr8 (great)—might actually help students hone a greater phonetic ability by forcing them to remember what the letter combinations stand for. Meanwhile, others believe texting helps kids "because it gets them interested in writing."

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