Thursday, May 12, 2011

Teaching to the Text Message

Andy Selsberg, an English teacher at John Jay College, recently wrote the following as part of an op-ed piece in The New York Times:

I don’t expect all my graduates to go on to Twitter-based careers, but learning how to write concisely, to express one key detail succinctly and eloquently, is an incredibly useful skill, and more in tune with most students’ daily chatter, as well as the world’s conversation. The photo caption has never been more vital.

Selsberg does not suggest eliminating more lengthy pieces from the syllabus, but does outline a variety of short compositions he assigns to his students, from YouTube video comments to Amazon product reviews, and notes that "short isn't necessarily a shortcut."

What do you think? Is there value in short, real-world assignments such as these? Can they provide students with opportunities to practice language skills that longer assignments can't?

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