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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Does spelling count?

Does spelling count?

Related Tags: 6-8 Middle School
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Does spelling count? That used to be the big question. What students meant was “will you be taking off points for misspelled words?” While using technology in class now, the question is essentially, “do we have to spell words right on purpose?” I frequently use an online discussion tool. Many students use text speak and emoticons whenever they are using an online tool in their personal lives, be it social media or mobile. Students have learned a variety of ways to make their words become their voice, including emoticons, CAPITAL LETTERS, and lots of punctuation!!!!!! Some teachers allow that style of writing while using online discussion tools because it increases their excitement and engagement with the tool, freeing them to “learn the way they live,” Other educators feel that if you are using the tool for a class students should be practicing proper writing skills at all times, including spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, etc. What do you think? Does digital writing count?

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Comments (46)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Mark Pennington's picture
Mark Pennington
ELA teacher and educational author

If they don't know 'em, we've got to teach 'em. Those who believe that encoding mastery will come via editing in the Writing Process or through extensive reading are short-changing our students. If it's worth learning, it's worth spending time teaching to diagnostically assessed needs. Here is a treasure trove of spelling assessments and resources:

Todd Sentell's picture
Todd Sentell
Author of the hilarious schoolhouse memoir, "Can't Wait to Get There. Can't Wait to Leave"

I'm always amused when a student asks me while they take a quiz or a test if spelling counts. Of course, that's the reason many of them are here. They have dyslexia. I say it counts ... sure ... spelling always counts in school and in life, but here's how we handle it on quiz day. Hop up from your desk and whisper the answer to me. I'll write down your answer on your quiz. Most of the time, I found out, whispered answers were correct. Most of the time, though, the kids didn't whisper the answer and if the other kids were paying attention they got a dang freebie.

A's picture

As a teacher, I do believe that spelling is important and should continue to be taught starting with phonics. As a parent of a dyslexic child spelling can be a challenge. Accommodations should be made for spelling if they are writing. If a computer program is being used, still encourage the correct spelling but also show how to find the correct spelling for words using the tools of the program.

Debbie's picture
middle school technology teacher

I think their text speak is acceptable in informal writing. Their ideas may flow more freely if they don't have to concentrate on spelling and writing mechanics. However, in writing that will be turned in for a grade they need to use proper spelling and writing mechanics. I also don't want to see hearts and smiley faces!

Akram Jaffar's picture
Akram Jaffar
Assistant Professor of human anatomy, University of Sharjah, UAE

If digital writing is subdued, then how can people communicate on the widely used on-line social media platforms? Twitter and YouTube, for example, restrict the tweets or comments to few words only. Without the help of emoticons and punctuations it would be difficult to express one's opinion or feeling. However, I do agree that formal writing should still be encouraged.

David Runia's picture

I believe that students should be taught and encouraged to use proper grammar, punctuation, etc. However, there is also a place for a more 'digital media' style of writing. Maybe have a journal time where students can reflect on their lives using any style of writing that they want. This allows students to become well rounded in both formal writing and in social media writing skills.

Bruce Deitrick Price's picture
Bruce Deitrick Price

RE: "Without the help of emoticons and punctuations it would be difficult ..." 1) I'm on these sites and have never needed emoticons, etc.. 2) Kids should know intimately what correct looks like before you let them loose.

Ashley's picture

Absolutely. Students need to be able understand and demonstrate their comprehension of standard English. The technology today has taken away from that learning and brain washed them into texting and shortening words or using incorrect grammar and puncuation. Stidents need to have proper english skills for their future success so I believe it's better to start them out early.

Christopher Koestner's picture
Christopher Koestner
Middle school English teacher from Flushing, New York

Yes! Especially if the word is on the page in the form of a word bank. If my students misspell a word that is directly in front of them, they lose credit. Correct spelling is more than just about the correct arrangement of letters, but it also forces students to pay more attention and to be more meticulous in their work, which translates to other subject areas (math in particular).

On the other hand, spelling mistakes on in-class essays that demand analysis is something I try to overlook (to a point). If the kid misspells "disingenuous", but writes an insightful piece about tragedy in Of Mice and Men, I ain't gonna kill 'em.

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