For years, I employed the Daily Oral Language sentences to reinforce grammar, punctuation, and spelling skills in my classroom as part of our bellwork routine. Witnessing noticeable progress in my students’ everyday writing validated the effectiveness of these short morning lessons. Notably, this improvement extended to their performance in standardized tests throughout the year. Despite its effectiveness, both my students and I found this method rather dull. I realized there had to be a more engaging approach.

During my search for alternatives, I stumbled upon an article in the Los Angeles Times discussing the impact of texting on the grammar abilities of tweens and teens.

This particular quote caught my eye:
“Basically, kids aren’t able to “code switch” — shift between standard grammar and the abbreviations used in text messages, Sundar said. Those abbreviations have essentially become the words for them.

Adults not raised on text-friendly abbreviations in their formative years are able to shift between formal and informal language, Sundar said. Kids consuming a steady diet of “textual adaptations” aren’t.”

We’re well aware that teens often use “text speak” to convey thoughts in the fewest characters possible, causing chaos in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It can be quite challenging to read at times! Unfortunately, this shorthand finds its way into their everyday classroom writing. It’s crucial for students to grasp proper writing conventions essential in the professional world.

How do we guide our students to “code switch,” allowing them to employ the convenience of texting while maintaining proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

I devised a method that merges DOL-style practice with “text speak.” This approach lets students engage in practice that feels more intriguing and relevant to them—in their own “language,” so to speak. Simultaneously, they learn that while “text speak” suits casual texting, formal writing demands adherence to conventional rules. It truly offers the best of both worlds!

The structure mirrors the DOL format I previously employed: about two sentences per day for bellwork. I prepare a weekly sheet featuring 10 sentences composed in “text talk,” requiring correction using standard writing conventions. Each morning, students independently rectify two sentences, followed by a class review as part of our daily routine.

For example:
Passage: n Aug he didnt nvr do gud

Answer: He didn’t do well in August.

This might seem like an alien language at first glance! For tweens and teens, though, it’s their language and a sort of puzzle to translate it into proper English. It reinforces the notion that their “text speak” is valid for casual communication, yet emphasizes its unsuitability for formal writing in school or the professional sphere. This clear distinction aids in understanding the disparity between the two modes of communication.

Try out a free sample here:

For an engaging and practical approach to offer grammar, punctuation, and spelling practice to your middle/high school students, explore Text-to-English Grammar Activities. The complete product is available for purchase by quarter, semester, or for an entire year! Every download comprises printable, interactive notebook, and digital formats compatible with Google Drive™!