However, my disgust at seeing "LOL" or "OMG" or "OSM" has outweighed that hatred. This year, I decided to go after it head on, raise the bar, increase expectations.
A few years back, I was at Rice University for a Pre-AP English training. My instructor mentioned how he used white boards as a way to assess his students' ability to write certain types of sentences and how he made it into a little game. After all those years, I remembered it. I thought, "How could I digitize it for my students?" That's when the idea sprang up in my mind: Today's Meet!
Today's Meet (www.todaysmeet.com) is a backchannel website. You create simple websites for folks--in this case students--to go, create a name, and post ideas/thoughts/questions/responses/whatevers. The posts are recorded and can be scrolled through in real time. When you create a site, you decide how long the site is kept live (as short as 2 hours or as long as a year) and what custom url name it'll have. Amazingly, Today's Meet is free, too!
My students have been learning two different types of sentence structures: present participial phrases and adverb subordinate clauses. After a few weeks of learning about the differences between phrases and clauses, taking notes, practicing, and noticing sentences in their reading, I thought it was time for a challenge. Dubbed "Sentence Battles," I arranged my classes into teams of 3 (of course, this might change depending on your class sizes). I've found that the triad is the perfect grouping--not too big, not too small. Each team had a smart phone or iPad/tablet between them.
I'd send the teams to a Today's Meet site I made for each class, come up with a team name, and post a shout out.
--a sentence type
--location of phrase/clause in the sentence
--sentence length by words
As the sentences poured in over the projector, I'd checked them for grammar, punctuation, and length. Each round had 3 winners: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places. Depending on the length of the sentence, they'd get "X" amount of points. For instance, if I asked for 15 words or more, 1st place got 5 points, 2nd 4 points, 3rd 3 points. If it was 18 words, 1st would get 8 points, 2nd 7 points, etc.
That way it would vary for each round and each team would have buy-in.
Once a team got 1st, I'd say--"Hey look at ChoCho's sentence for inspiration. They got it right!"
By then, it was a frenzy to look at how it was done right. Eventually it would sink in and the last few rounds would be intense! Teams would eventually start some healthy smack talk back and forth and it was fun to watch and interact with their peers in a different, yet familiar, way.
By the end of the final round, every class (including my challenging ones) asked, "When can we do more Sentence Battles?" Freshmen--asking to write more grammatically correct sentences. I'll count that as a success in my book! Now, how to get them excited about literary analysis essays?
What ways could you use Today's Meet in your classroom?
For the kids,