Know your text-messaging limits before being caught at school

Sep 04, 2008 By Tony Gonzalez

Beneath the desk, agile fingers flit across the keypad. Above, eye contact with the teacher never breaks. The cell-phone text message is sent, unnoticed. Or noticed.

Then it's up to teachers to offer a warning, or confiscate the cell phone, and almost unavoidably disrupt class time - yet another text-messaging distraction that teachers and administrators see as a growing nuisance.

The Pew Research Center reported this year that 71 percent of American teens own a cell phone (compared with 45 percent in 2004), that 50 percent of teens sometimes use informal capitalization and punctuation in school assignments and that 38 percent have used texting lingo (such as "LOL," for "laughing out loud") in schoolwork.

During class, teachers see students texting on phones "hidden" in pockets. High-pitched ringtones, which adults can't hear, add a new challenge.

"In this day and age, if you take a cell phone away from a teenager, it's like carving out their heart," said Steve Hill, principal at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minn.

To avoid such gruesome punishment, parents and students may heed the advice of Hill and other teachers and administrators, who offer the following warnings and suggestions for teen texting etiquette at school.

1. There's a time and a place for texting.

At Humboldt High School in St. Paul, Minn., teacher Paul Richardson, 26, says that many students have a firm grasp on when text-messaging nicknames and abbreviations are acceptable.

"I've heard other teachers be vocal about being frustrated with some of the slang that shows up in papers," Richardson said. "I feel like, as long as they can switch back and forth (from formal to informal styles), and if they're writing, they're learning to communicate in a writing way."

Kofi Adragni, a graduate student and statistics instructor at the University of Minnesota, explicitly wrote in his syllabus: "All course work must be fully readable; text messaging acronyms and jargon are not accepted."

"I see abbreviations so many times," Adragni said. "Sometimes I can't single them out to find out what they stand for."

He doesn't worry about texting during class. Students suffer if they do: "For someone to come to my classroom for a lecture, but spend their time text-messaging, is a waste of time. But that's their business."

2. Know the consequences.

Teachers said students don't often test the rules after a cell-phone confiscation demonstrates that a teacher means business.

"Usually after the first time, the issue is corrected," said Jinger Gustafson, principal at Oak View Middle School in Andover, Minn.

The rules are simple, after all: Turn phones off during instruction; no text-messaging during tests.

But rules and consequences do change. This year, some schools have banned cell phones even during passing periods and lunchtime. Some have added fines or long-term confiscations.

Administrators understand that outright bans are impractical, but are on the lookout for cases of text-message cheating. Such cheating can earn students a zero score on a test or an F in the class.

3. Don't push it.

A cell-phone reprimand is distraction enough, but prolonged argument about cell-phone use or confiscation rules between the texting student and the teacher only extends the distraction.

"Sometimes the kids argue back with the teacher, which causes more of a distraction," Hill said. "It also damages the relationship when teachers and students argue about something that shouldn't even occur."

4. Ask in advance.

Many teachers will allow students to receive emergency messages or stay in touch with parents during family crises. But teachers won't assume a cell phone is being used for an emergency, so students should ask ahead in such situations.

5. Expect texting to become a teaching tool.

As teachers and administrators realize that texting isn't going away, some are suggesting that the medium be embraced as a classroom tool. Besides using texting for emergency responses, teachers could use texting-centric lessons.

A 10-text message version of "Romeo and Juliet," for example.

"I don't know how much longer we can try to stave off the entry of technology into schools," said Bruce Locklear, principal of Edina High School. "It would make sense for us to embrace it and identify a positive use for it. But we're not quite there yet."

___

© 2008, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Visit the Star Tribune Web edition on the World Wide Web at www.startribune.com
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Service

Explore further: Verizon launches rewards program with tracking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The geography of the global electronic waste burden

19 minutes ago

As local and national governments struggle to deal with ever-growing piles of electronic waste (or "e-waste"), scientists are now refining the picture of just how much there is and where it really ends up. Published in the ...

Oso disaster had its roots in earlier landslides

34 minutes ago

The disastrous March 22 landslide that killed 43 people in the rural Washington state community of Oso involved the "remobilization" of a 2006 landslide on the same hillside, a new federally sponsored geological study concludes.

The electric slide dance of DNA knots

34 minutes ago

DNA has the nasty habit of getting tangled and forming knots. Scientists study these knots to understand their function and learn how to disentangle them (e.g. useful for gene sequencing techniques). Cristian ...

A crystal wedding in the nanocosmos

40 minutes ago

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Vienna University of Technology and the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Lublin have succeeded in embedding nearly perfect semiconductor ...

Recommended for you

Verizon launches rewards program with tracking

Jul 21, 2014

Verizon Wireless is launching a nationwide loyalty program this week for its 100-million-plus subscribers. There's a twist, though: To earn points for every dollar spent, subscribers must consent to have their movements tracked ...

Verizon boosts FiOS uploads to match downloads

Jul 21, 2014

Verizon is boosting the upload speeds of nearly all its FiOS connections to match the download speeds, vastly shortening the time it takes for subscribers to send videos and back up their files online.

The goTenna device pitch is No Service, No Problem

Jul 18, 2014

In the new age of Internet-based crowdfunding with special price offers, where startup teams try to push their product closer and closer to the gate of entry, goTenna's campaign offers a most attractive pitch. ...

Maths can make the internet 5-10 times faster

Jul 17, 2014

Mathematical equations can make Internet communication via computer, mobile phone or satellite many times faster and more secure than today. Results with software developed by researchers from Aalborg University ...

User comments : 0