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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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Bruce Deitrick Price's picture
Bruce Deitrick Price
Founder, Improve-Education.org

Absolutely. Standard English must be preached and practiced.
Kids no more expect to use all their text tricks than they expect to wear bathing suits to class. All this pandering is not good for the soul.
ON THE OTHER HAND, it might be fun--and instructive--to sometimes let them go wild and crazy with the non-standard stuff. That gets it out of their systems. Later, and this is the good part, you ask them to reflect on the pros and cons of different vernaculars. That is real critical thinking.

Katie Bess's picture

I believe that spelling is very essential to student's writing. Although technology greatly helps us these days, we can not rely solely on it. What about when we go to write a note to our boss in a meeting and we do not know how to spell a word? That looks bad on our part.
In free writes and journals spelling should not count, but in formal papers or research reports spelling should be judged.

Jan Norwood's picture
Jan Norwood
Curriculum Coordinator for the Lincoln Parish secondary alternative school

I subscribe to the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy! Absolutely demand correct English, count off for spelling, pursue grammar. BUT...design activities where nothing but text speak is used. Let kids reply to you if they understand a taught concept :), did not quite get it :(, or have questions ??? All done with NO phones on campus, of course! Students will soon discover that although texting is quick and has its place, there is a time and place for it. It is difficult to communicate at a deeper level with IDK, or LOL. Great writing needs a full vocabulary.

Jacqueline's picture
engelish teacher in Europe

I think it is nice for students to be able te use modern spelling for 'text messaging' if they want to. However, they should know the difference between that and formal writing.
They should be taught that these are two separate languages.

Sean Westerfield's picture

I think it's very important for all people to learn to write appropriately for their audience. Text-speak and emoticons are fine when a person is writing a personal communication to someone with whom they are familiar. However, should a writer's audience be a prospective employer, a business contact or someone similar, proper punctuation, spelling, and grammar are critical, if the writer wants to be taken seriously. Student's need to learn proper writing skills in school and, since that is the only place they are going to learn them, I believe schools should always require proper writing, unless the exercise is specifically presented as either recreation or as a chance for students to learn the correlations between emoticons/text-speak and the proper writing they are being used to replace. Supporting the idea that proper writing is an outdated and obsolete practice isn't helping the students, IMHO :-)

Luke's picture
Alternative high school English teacher, Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

I agree with most of you. You must have proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, all of it. In order to make it interesting throw in a few well-designed activities where they can use texting language. The practical side of me thinks of how awful it would be to sort through all of that nonsense when it came time for grading.

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