Los Angeles Teacher Uses Social Media to Inspire Students to Strive for Better Communication
gramMARCH Challenge Launches March 1, 2014 and Asks you to Pause. Ponder. Prose.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Teacher Heather Shotke was tired of finding “text speak” in written assignments from her students so instead of shunning social media she turned to it as a means to challenge them to write more intelligent and intentional communications.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet Project (2012) says 63% of all teens use text messages to communicate with people every single day and teens, ages 14-17, send an average of 100 texts per day.
Shotke believes that if students were to use proper grammar in these communications, it would be a productive way to practice comprehensive and thoughtful communication and bolster an affinity for writing – a skill that could be transferred to academic assignments.
And so the 13-year teaching veteran created the gramMARCH challenge, which launches March 1 and lasts throughout the month. This unique campaign encourages students – and adults alike – to confront their addiction to abbreviations and emojicons and pledge to use proper grammar, full sentences and use the entire word in text messaging, formal writing and all forms of written communications.
Technology allows people to text, tweet, Kik, Skype, Facebook, and e-mail. With all these forms of rapid and constant communication, shorthand text-speak, slang and abbreviations have become the unapproved norm in the classroom and the boardroom, blurring the lines between formal and informal communication.
“I was disappointed because my students thought it was OK to use abbreviations instead of real words even in formal written assignments,” Shotke said. “But I knew if I criticized them for it, they would get defensive. So instead I decided to embrace the way they chose to communicate and simply challenge them to do it better.”
But instead of cursing these technological innovations – and blaming them for ruining communication — Shotke took to social media creating a Facebook page, an Instagram profile and a Twitter handle to reach students. She met students where they were and empowered them to write better in their posts, tweets and status updates. Her students have embraced her challenge and have been posting photos on Facebook, Instragram and Twitter with stickers, buttons and bracelets donning the signature gramMARCH logo.
Shotke, a graduate of the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, is not only concerned for her students but for society as a whole, as we have all become too acceptant of this new-era shorthand. Adults too have adopted this lax method of prose. Through gramMARCH, Shotke is challenging the nation to slow down and think about what they are writing, so that thoughts and words are concise and given respect.
“Anecdotally, it takes about 30 days for something to become a habit,” Shotke said. “So, if we can get people to accept the gramMARCH Challenge and write with proper grammar in all communications – including texts, tweets, Kiks, Instagram captions and status updates on Facebook – for the month of March, we may be able to make the shift back to intelligent communication.”
For more information and to accept the gramMARCH Challenge for the month of March 2014, log on to www.gramMARCH.org. Follow the gramMARCH movement on Twitter and Facebook at @gramMARCH, on Intstagram at @gramMARCH2014.
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