Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Suejae loves Chris Brown and one day they will fall in love and get married."

Higher Achievement hosted a spelling bee. All of the students had word searches in order to practice for the spelling bee. My group of students, Trishawn, Leonard, and Suejae are not fond of these worksheets. When we finish our lesson early, I often pull out one of the word searches and ask them to find any five words before we move to the gym for free time. Trishawn’s whole attitude switches from slightly annoyed to completely not speaking to me when I ask her to work on the word search. While she’s busy being angry with me, she doesn’t realize she’s found more than five words and we can go to the gym.

Practicing our spelling with the game of Hangman is a totally different story. Hangman excites Trishawn, Leonard, and Suejae. They cannot wait to be the person to make up the saying on the board or look at the lists of words from other activities to put a challenging word on the board. Suejae often writes down the phrase on a piece of paper so she can check it when she is the one who makes up the word. Trishawn often makes her phrase a joke about Suejae. For example, one Monday evening she put on the board, “_ _ _ _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ (space) _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ ( space) _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ (space) _ _ _ _ _ _ _.”

Any guesses? The answer is “Suejae loves Chris Brown and one day they will fall in love and get married.” It took all of our extra time to figure out the answer and we all could not stop laughing. Suejae felt slightly embarrassed but thought it was hilarious that Trishawn would think to write that as the Hangman phrase. Trishawn couldn’t control her laughter throughout the entire guessing process and lost when Suejae figured the sentence out. Leonard thought the girls were being ridiculous by putting that as the phrase, and I can’t blame him. It was a pretty silly sentence to write on the board, but I was impressed with Trishawn’s ability to remember to put the two r’s in married. I sat on the desk watching this unfold and couldn’t wait to for Higher Achievement to be over so I could tell K, Rosie, and Sam all about Suejae and Chris Brown.

In Bryson’s chapter, “Lost in Cyberland,” he comments on the computer’s spellchecker. He describes exactly what a spellchecker does and where it’s features become disappointing. His first complaint is it’s inability to “recognize any proper nouns,” (169). I can’t say I don’t agree that it is very frustrating, as I have had to manually add my last name to every spellchecker. Also my entire document is littered with red underlines because Suejae, and Trishawn are not standard names. Another critique of the spell check is the autocorrect feature. Bryson states, “You have to all but order the program not to insert the wrong word,” (170). This can be extremely frustrating when it automatically changes the word you want to a word that does not make any sense at all in that place.

Bryson’s frustration with spell check is relatable in that everyone goes through the computer not accepting the correct spelling of a word, or suggesting a word that does not fit. It’s almost comical when the suggested word is read in the context of the original word or the suggested spelling for names of people or places. But what else is spell check doing with our ability to spell? We are no longer required to memorize how to spell challenging or simple words because our computers do it for us. If we need to look up how to spell a word, we have a dictionary feature in the toolbar. We can utilize our access to the internet, use an online dictionary or just have Google autosuggest or correct the word, with it’s, “did you mean…?” feature.

Spelling is becoming a less and less refined skill as technology rises. Our cellphones autocorrect our text messages and e-mails. They also store the words we manually add and autosuggest words we frequently use. Students also take notes on their laptops which all come equipped with the spell check feature. Loyola is taking an initiative to still show the importance of being able to spell by hosting a spelling bee. The first four words were, “curmudgeon,” “macabre,” “appellate,” and “hydrangea.” (I just had the computer correct curmudgeon.) Of those four words, my spelling bee partner and I spelled one right. When we left the spelling bee, we each used our iPhones to google the correct spelling of the words. And I still can’t sepll them.

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