At this year’s Quest Conference, Stephen Louca and I co-presented on Handhelds in the Classroom. It was at one of our sessions that we were asked a question I get quite often as a teacher leader who uses mobile devices and social media for learning.
“How do you deal with students using internet slang when they write?”
I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic when I said,
“You know, I think we all need to chillax a little about that.”
As teachers of writing, I don’t believe our job is to try in vain to change the way kids talk and communicate with one another. What is the point of living if you can’t play, manipulate, and have loads of fun with language, especially as a child?
Rather, in this complex age, we should be far more concerned with teaching the navigation of context. These days, when people ask me questions about what I think is different about our time and place, I often say that it is the abundance of contextual difference. We are constant immigrants in multiple different cultural, language, and social frames of reference. Kids will be successful if they are able to navigate and metaphorically switch clothing and personas for multiple purposes.
Instead of denouncing playfulness with language, show students how it can be leveraged.
With this in mind, I thought I’d share how we are currently dealing with internet slang. We gave it an acronym, a name:
S: Creative Spelling
P: Excessive Punctuation
My adolescent students and I have agreed not to let it SEAP into our formal writing.