Thursday, September 16, 2010

OMG, R U Serious?????

Every semester, when I receive my first stack of essays, I am always blown away by at least 2-3 students. Sometimes I am blown away by the sheer talent of these students. In my 9 years of teaching freshman composition, I have seen some incredibly talented young writers. Some of these students have even gone on to major in English, get published, become English instructors themselves, etc. I always feel so honored to have taught such bright young authors.

But then there are the students who blow me away for other reasons. You know, like the students who turn in papers that are clearly plagiarized. Or the students who hand in papers that are half-finished, and instead of just completing the last few paragraphs, they write me a separate paragraph on how they couldn't finish their paper because their car broke down, their computer blew up, their girlfriend dumped them, the bookstore was out of our textbook, etc. I am also amazed by how many students don't proof read or even attempt spell check. Microsoft Word can't make it any easier for you people!

So when I sat down to start grading my very first stack of essays this semester, I was hoping to be blown away by a few young writers. But instead, I got an essay with text message spelling. That's right people...text message spelling. This student used "U" for "you" and "R" for "are" throughout the ENTIRE paper. Seriously??????

The sad part is that this student probably didn't even realize what he was doing. He probably texts all day long and then sat down to write this paper and just got on a roll with his texting code. But still...I was blown away. And not in a good way. Sigh...

This assignment was a literacy narrative on how student's attitudes about reading and writing have changed over the years. Several students, including the one I am referring to in this post, wrote about how they had a "really mean" English teacher that always criticized them and made them feel like they were stupid. They claim that it was because of these teachers that they no longer enjoy English.

So yeah...I have to tread very lightly when I speak to this student about his "texting" and I am not sure how to do that without making him feel stupid. Because was pretty stupid. Unless this student specifically wrote about this experience so that I would be lenient when it comes to grading his papers. And if that is the case, then this student may be the smartest student I have ever taught :-)

So teacher friends...have any of you been receiving essays, projects, assignments or homework with "text spelling" these days? I wonder how common this is becoming...


  1. wow! I mean, I cannot believe (well, sadly I can!) someone did that. I don't even use abbreviations when I text because I think they look bad and this kid used it in his paper??? I think you should probably address the whole class and not just him about how using texting spelling in their English papers is inappropriate and that spell check exists for a reason. He obviously didn't use spell check because it wouldn't let you get away with Us and Rs. But at least that way you won't be calling only him out, and he would think that maybe other kids did it too.

  2. ROFL

    A college student of all people. That is HILARIOUS!

  3. I wouldn't worry about making them feel stupid...seriously.

    Obviously a wake up call is needed. I mean come ON already! Aren't these kids the future of our nation???

    Do you want one of them handling ANYTHING ... EVER?

    Which leads me to one of my most favorite sayings..."I hate stupid people."


  4. Jen- My high school students have real trouble with deciphering when to use text short hand and when to use standard written English. The trouble is that language is constantly changing. I try to remind them that writing is a lot like speaking, you have to know your audience. You wouldn't go around f- bombing in class, because its inappropriate. Similarly writting in casual Iming language is flippant. It implies to the teacher a level of familiarity that is not appropriate for formalized essay writing.

    Here is what I would do. I would either copy exerpts of 3-4 students writing omitting their names or you can write them yourself if you feel uncomfortable using a specific person's paper. Show the class these examples. Have one that is well written, have one or two grammatically struggling paragraphs, have one with text language and then discuss as a class the various excerpts. You should find that students are great at pointing out flaws in other people's writing even when they miss their own. Have some students share their thoughts and observations, and then give them time to reflect on the essays they just wrote for you. Discuss how presenting yourself slovenly on paper, is like heading to a job interview in a ripped pair of jeans, wrecking of body odor. They should figure out that the lesson is, don't present yourself poorly in person, or on paper. Hope that helps.

  5. I teach middle school reading and writing in St. Louis and run into this problem ALL the time! Between the text codes and the slang it's a wonder I am even able to grade 1/2 of the essays. I have found that as long as your remind them several times during the writing process to use proper English only, the majority of them actually will. Still, it's sad that they don't realize this is not the proper way to write.

  6. I am taking English Composition in college right now and my teacher spent time specifically going over how we cant use text writing in our essays. Apparently it was very popular in our first essay.

  7. Wow...that is crazy!! And to think it was a college student.

    You have been awarded the “One Lovely Blog Award” on my blog.

  8. Amy - Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome class discussion idea! I actually already pulled a few student examples from this stack of papers to talk about comma splices, fused sentences, etc. so I think I will add a few more examples of "what not to do" in academic writing. All will be anonymous of course :-) Thanks again for the tip professor! We should be bouncing ideas off each other more often :-)

    Thanks to the rest of you who commented! Apparently this is something that I need to address now before they turn in any more assignments :-) Yikes...

  9. Your welcome Jen, although I think you might have taken me a bit more seriously if I had correctly spelled reeking correctly the first time instead of wrecking. See, being a SAHM is making my grammar atrocious. If this keeps up I'll need you to proof read my comments from now on!

  10. Eek! That's horrible! Makes me terrified to have kids.