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Watch John McWhorter’s Tedtalk on texting by yourself. McWhorter’s thesis is that texting is an expansion of people’s linguistic repertoire. He describes texting not as writing but as a kind of “fingered speech” that we use to write like we talk.

Literacy assignment for grade 8 and up

1. Ask each student to bring in an actual example of a texting conversation that contains examples of lol or a / (slash between two words).

2. In pairs ask students to examine the function of these new structures. How are they being used in speech? What do they mean?

3. Have several pairs of students share their findings with the class.

4. Watch the McWhorter video together and discuss his thesis.

5. Have individual students analyze other examples of texting language (haha for example) and write a paragraph describing their function and meaning.