Texting, tweeting lingo creeping into schoolwork

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One student accidentally slipped "LOL" into a school assignment.

Clarissa De La Paz said she has caught herself writing at school like she texts with her friends.

"I'm just, like, 'Oh my gosh! I just said LOL,'" the high school junior in Corpus Christi, Texas, said.

OMG moment or no prob?

Clarissa, 16, tends to erase those kinds of mistakes before she turns in an assignment, but some teens may not be so lucky.

After all, texting is ingrained in the typical teenage lifestyle.

In the Corpus Christi Independent School District, for instance, texting lingo has invaded some classroom assignments such as written essays, typed opinions about up-and-coming technology and answers on worksheets asking potential job-interview questions.

And those students aren't the only ones who have trouble putting text lingo on silent mode.

Educational website Edutopia.org, a part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, has an online poll asking visitors to vote on whether they feel texting has become prevalent in school assignments; if it isn't a significant concern; if they believe students can keep texting and grammar separate; or if they don't feel strongly about any of those choices.

Almost 1,600 voters, or 54 percent, said they think texting language shows up in assignments.

And some educators say texting language in writing or typed assignments is becoming commonplace.

"It's definitely a problem that we see daily," said Vicki Recio, an eighth-grade English language arts teacher at South Park Middle School, in Corpus Christi.

And students aren't just writing in text language. They talk in text language.

Recio and Veronica Juarez, the school's English language arts department chairwoman, have conducted workshops with students where they are asked to write in text with a limited number of characters and then convert it into formal language.

"They had a difficult time because they didn't have the phone in their hand," Juarez said.

The goal of the class exercises, particularly the workshops, she said, is to help prepare students to use more creativity and critical thinking skills.

Students must find a transition between texting language and grammar, Juarez said.

That transition can be difficult when teens nationwide have been known to text thousands of times a month.

The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project conducted a parent-teen cellphone survey of 800 teenagers from 12 to 17 years old in 2009 and found that 86 percent of girls texted their friends several times a day while 64 percent of boys did.

Girls also are more likely to text about social, private and school-related topics, the survey found. The report said 76 percent of girls texted about school while 64 percent of boys did.

Katie Putnam, 15, said she recently text-messaged her friends more than 380 times in a little more than a day.

"I get bored," she said.

But she has a piece of advice for other teens: "You can never take it back once you press send."

Alberto Martinez, 16, tends to send about 40 messages a day and he sticks to the same texting circle -- his friends and girlfriend.

He said he doesn't let text language filter into his schoolwork, but he sees it happening to other students.

And the fact is, he said, students can't articulate well because many are used to short, abbreviated conversations.

The beginning of the school year typically is when ninth-grade English teacher Michael Wendel detects the majority of culprits who let text language slip in their writing.

And he tries to nip that in the bud -- with a little Shakespeare.

"O Rom. Where4 art thou?" a text message conversation between Romeo and Juliet reads.

The conversation is a part of a worksheet found on the Internet, but it tends to help in the effort, Wendel said.

Text language in assignments is just another checklist item for his classroom management, he said, adding students tend to understand the rules.

"They are conditioned enough to know what language to use for different things," he said.

In fact, in recent years he has noticed his students have become more engaged in writing. Texting and new technology likely play a role in that, he said.

He added students seem to be more comfortable being expressive in class and assignments.

"That used to be part of the problem," Wendel said.

Couresy of Scripps Howard News Service