April 2013 e-Newsletter

Study: Text Messaging May Harm Grammar Skills

Grammar Guidelines for your Class!

WriteSteps Supports the 2013 Annual Bammy Awards

WriteSteps Welcomes a New Team Member

April Conferences
"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important."
~Bill Gates

Study: Text Messaging May Harm Grammar Skills
This cartoon would be hilarious if it weren't so ominous. It's ominous because it pokes fun at a distressing problem for our youth: text messaging seems to be negatively impacting kids' language skills. This is the conclusion of a study published in New Media & Society, a top-ranked, peer-reviewed journal. The authors of Texting, Techspeak, and Tweens: The Relationship between Text Messaging and English Grammar Skills say:

There is no question that text-speak has crept into classrooms; however, the question to date was whether or not adolescents were able to switch between writing text messages and using correct English grammar for class work. The results of this study indicate that most adolescents are not able to do so.

The fundamental question is, will kids be able to limit their texting language to just text messaging? Or, will the frequent use of texting bleed into kids' use of language in more formal settings? If the latter is true, then we've got a problem on our hands.

How Texting Impacts Grammar - the Study
Bear with me for a quick synopsis of the study's methods. Don't worry - it's not hard to follow. The researchers compared 6th, 7th, and 8th graders' scores on a grammar test to the frequency with which they used these common adaptations in text messages:
  • substitution of homophones (like gr8 for great, or b4 for before),
  • omission of non-essential letters (like wud for would),
  • abbreviations (like btw for by the way),
  • adaptations of punctuation, and
  • adaptations of capitalization
The study found that adolescents' frequent use of word adaptions in text messages correlated to lower grammar scores. But frequent structural adaptations (capitalization and punctuation) did not negatively impact test scores.

"They spent the summer texting. It takes a while to wean them."


The Limitations of the Study
The research showed that the more kids' used word adaptations in texting, the lower they scored on the grammar test; but this does not prove that their texting habits caused their poor test performance. It may be the other way around: that kids who are less skilled with grammar use more word adaptations in their texts.

The study does not definitively answer the question of whether texting harms grammar skills. But it gives enough cause for concern that we should be paying attention. Here is its message to teachers and parents:

"Adolescents should be educated to understand the differences between tech-speak and Standard English grammar, recognizing that there is a time and a place for both."


Grammar Guidelines for your Class!
Our free grammar guides include all of the recommended grammar and conventions listed in the writing Common Core Standards. The grammar guides are available for kindergarten through 5th grade. Read on to find the link for the grammar guides below. These comprehensive guides are a tool you can use that will provide your students with the knowledge needed to demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar during writing.

Screen shots of the kindergarten and 3rd grade grammar guide table of contents


Below is a shortened example of the material available in the 4th grade grammar guide. All of the grammar guides follow the same format but contain content specific to each grade level.

4th graders should know:


Core Standard: L.4.1: Students will use modal auxiliaries (e.g., can, may, must) to convey various conditions.

6. Modal Auxiliaries
Model auxiliaries are helping verbs that are used to add meaning and convey time (past, present, future). The modal auxiliaries are am, is, was, are, were, has, have, had, could, should, would, will, shall, be, been, being, can, may, must, might, do, did, does, ought, used to, need. In the following examples, modal auxiliaries are underlines and verbs are in gray.

Examples of modal auxiliaries:
  • Rebecca was going to the park. (past)
  • Mark is waiting for his friends to go play. (present)
  • Abigail will be writing a short story today. (future)



Download a free PDF copy of the grammar guide for your specific grade level by clicking here.

WriteSteps Joins Group of National Collaborators to Host the 2013 Bammy Awards
WriteSteps is a proud supporter of the 2013 Annual Bammy Awards! Presented by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International, the Bammy Awards is a cross-discipline honor that identifies and acknowledges the extraordinary work being done across the entire education field every day-- from teachers, principals and superintendents, to school nurses, support staff, advocates, researchers, school custodians, early childhood specialists, education journalists and parents. Nominations are accepted online at www.bammyawards.org.

WriteSteps Welcomes New Team Member Steve Higgins!
WriteSteps welcomes Awareness Ambassador Steve Higgins to the team! Steve joined WriteSteps in January and brings twenty-two years of educational sales experience to the company. "I grew up in an education household where both of my parents were teachers, along with many of their friends," said Steve. "Growing up in an environment surrounded by teachers instilled in me a passion for education."

Steve says his 12-year-old son inspires him to help students become better writers. He is happy to join WriteSteps where he can combine his passion for education with his desire to help students

"Steve Higgins, WriteSteps Awareness Ambassador."

When Steve is not busy raising awareness of WriteSteps in Maine and New Hampshire, he enjoys playing soccer, hiking, skiing, biking, and other outdoor activities.

April Conference Schedule
April 5, 2013, Concord, NH
WriteSteps will exhibit at the New Hampshire Association for Supervision & Curriculum Conference in Concord, NH. Steve Higgins, Awareness Ambassador, will be there from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to answer your Common Core writing questions! While there, you can sign up for a free trial to eWriteSteps, which automatically enters you into a drawing to win a new iPad!


"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
~William Butler Yeats