Technology We Already Have: Texting

email-from-phoneThe Tempered Radical wrote about texting:

But it is impossible to deny that texting has provided dozens of new writing opportunities for our kids. After all, the average teen sends 50 texts a day—a number that rises to 80 when you look at just the teen girls who are texting.

Now I know what you’re thinking: It’s difficult to see much writing value in messages that are full of text-speak. Can we really count the six “LOLs” and “ROTFLs” sent per day as writing opportunities?

The answer is yes—because no matter how short-hand-ed-ly written a message is, it is still an opportunity for writing that our kids didn’t have back in the good ol’ text-free days of yesteryear.

He goes on:

If I wanted to try to use texting as a tool for giving students opportunities to develop writing and spelling proficiency, I think I’d wind ‘em up on 25 word stories.

A fun Twitter project that I first learned about from Kevin Hodgson, 25 word stories are exactly what you think they are: Attempts to write complete stories in 25 words or less.

The 25 word limit is beautiful for lots of reasons. Perhaps most importantly to me as a professional writing teacher, 25 word stories require authors to be creative in their word choice and to craft pieces that force readers to rely on inferences to figure out what’s really going on.

And then, about using these stories in the classroom:

When my kids were done with their 25 word stories, I’d have ‘em text them to their friends—who could pretty easily respond with feedback. Suddenly, the audience for a text message becomes the audience for an interesting bit of writing.

And once the audience for a text message becomes the audience for an interesting bit of writing, spelling matters again.

By giving kids a specific, interesting task for the text messages that they’re writing, we can start to shift their perception of messaging as a forum for informal communication to messaging as a forum for sharing bits of interesting, well-developed thought.

There’s more. I really recommend going to the post and reading it all.

But why did this particular thing catch my fancy right now? I’ve been living with digital technology as a focus for a paper and this fits within my first point which is, use what we already have to do relevant things. We don’t all need Kindles (though I love them) nor iPads (which I don’t have). What we have we can use. Students already have cell phones. They already text.

I really like this idea.

Perhaps I can work with the texting in the Brit Lit II class. When they are reading their poems could I have them Tweet the meaning of the poem in 25 words? Could I have them tell the next part of the story or the back story? It’s an interesting idea.

2 thoughts on “Technology We Already Have: Texting”

  1. I love this idea. I used to have a paragraph in my syllabus coming down hard on cell phones and texting. Didn’t do a bit of good, so I’ve taken it out. I’m not doing anything with texting in my writing class. Yet.

    Maybe 25 word summaries of their readings? Many are using Twitter in the same way.

    Have you seen this CFP for next year’s MLA about how we’re using tech in our classes? This would seem to be perfect.

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