Texting Culture in Middle School

Hyler & Hicks cover

Less then a year ago my co-author Troy Hicks and I released our second book From Texting to Teaching: Grammar Instruction in a Digital Age. Since that time, I have been continuing to engage my students in new ways to think about grammar in the spaces where they write. This year has been very eye-opening to me and my students are showing me that their writing worlds are evolving every day.

As we were discussing adverbs two weeks ago, my students were completing lessons on Grammarflip while preparing to complete their grammar templates with their groups. During the discussion, we started talking about texting and I mentioned how last year’s students would get frustrated when they would text their peers and be frustrated when the letter “k” was sent back representing the work “okay”. That opened the floodgates for our conversation. As their teacher, I not only learned from my students, they allowed me into their world where they communicate regularly.

One of the most interesting things that my students brought to my attention was how texting was done more through the Snapchat app then just simply texting someone using the texting feature on their phone. When I asked why they did this, the replies suggested they enjoyed using pictures and the emoji features that Snapchat allowed. It didn’t mean they didn’t use the standard texting on their phone, but it did mean that it is used less than when I have talked to previous year’s students.

More surprising to me was most of my students know proper grammar. Yes, you read that right. Most of my students do know proper grammar! My students proceeded to tell me that they use proper grammar in their text messaging when they need to use it. Okay, so when is that? Proper grammar is used by my students it seems when they are either upset with the person they are texting or they are trying to make a point. Using proper grammar lets the other person know they are serious and they are not pleased. I sat there for a minute trying to wrap my head around this concept  my students were instituting in their daily communication to their peers.

As I thought more about this, it still goes back to this idea of formal -vs- informal writing. It is evident to me that my students are using informal writing when communicating with their peers. However, when it is time to take things seriously and the conversation becomes more important, they formal guidelines are kicking in for my students. They are continuing to learn and evolve the skills they need to help them in their writing spaces.


Flipping Grammar

Last year, my principal approached our science teacher and myself to think about the idea of flipping some lessons in our classroom.  Since we have the ability to do so we thought it would be a great idea to try.  Here are our goals in doing flipped lessons:

1. Engage our students more.

2. Cut down on missing assignments.

3. Create more time in our classrooms to help remedial students.

4. Give the brighter students a chance to excel at activities presented with each lesson.

Our journey began by reading Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, which is a great book for anyone that is a beginner at flipping lessons.

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Our principal also had us go to some profession development that was very informative and well worth our time to help us develop what we wanted to accomplish with our students.

So, I decided in my classroom that I wanted to flip grammar.  This is an area kids want to fall asleep and at times can be difficult to engage them.  This year, it has been a success flipping grammar.  My 8th graders have been working a lot with flipped lessons on dialogue and some students created skits with dialogue and performed their skits in front of the class.  It was awesome! I wish I could have taken pics.

By no means am I an expert at flipping lessons yet, it will take me at least through this year to refine my lessons and approach. In addition, I need time to reflect back on what I have done this year too.

Below is a flipped lesson I did with my 7th graders on types of sentences. It is very amateur, but I like it. I used an iPad app called TouchCast, which is free. I hope you enjoy!

http://www.touchcast.com/mr_hyler/The-Latest-on-Sentence-Structure

Cheers!