I’ve kept many of my teaching journals. Recently, I stumbled upon an essay that I’d written with my fifth graders in 2004.
One day during writing time I said, “I have a very strong opinion about a change that needs to happen with our alphabet. It has bothered me for years and I’m now ready to talk about it.”
They looked at me, waiting.
“I think we should get rid of the letter C.”
“Why?” they asked. As I explained my reasons, they began to nod and see my point. When Carly said she’d be OK with changing her name to Karly, I knew it would be a great opportunity to write it together.
Now nine years later as I get to know the Common Core State Standards in writing better, I see how this opinion piece addresses many of the sub skills of writing standard #1. From an introduction and concluding section that relate to the opinion, to words and phrases that link the opinions, reasons, facts and details, I realize I found a new mentor text in my old notebook. Here’s our work:
Kut the Letter C
“A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I…” You know the song, but what you may not know is that there is at least one completely unnecessary letter in the alphabet. Do you know what it is? It starts words like cat and circle. Yes, it’s the letter C, and I think we should eliminate it from the alphabet.
The letter C makes two sounds, the hard sound of K and soft sound of S and we already have those letters. In a word like circumference, the C has both of those sounds in the same word. It’s very confusing. While sirkumferense looks strange now, we could get used to it. How many times have you had to stop and ask yourself, “Is that with a C or a K?” or, “Is that a C or an S?” If it was clear, you wouldn’t even have to ask.
There are many advantages to having 25 letters instead of 26. Teachers would have more room on their walls due to a shortened alphabet strip. That’s six to nine inches of wall space reclaimed. In addition, the alphabet song would be quicker. “Now I know my ABD’s,” even sounds right! Kindergarteners would also have less to learn. We often hear that there is too much expected of five-year-olds. Well, let’s take out a letter and give them more time to figure out which way those b’s and d’s go.
Having no C’s would shorten a variety of words. Some basic words could be shortened by up to 25%. Duck becomes duk, for example. It will take less time to write or type and cost less money to print. If you were purchasing an Oregon Duck sweatshirt, you could buy one less letter. Anything that saves money is important in today’s economy.
The saying goes, “less is more” and it’s true. A 25-letter alphabet would help us a lead a simpler life with clear sounds. Now that I know my A…B…D’s, I’m thinking we may also want to consider losing the letter Q too!
Feel free to share our work with your students and colleagues. I encourage students and teachers to play with opinion/argumentative writing the way they’ve had fun with narrative writing in the past. Experiment with opinions both serious and ridiculous. When writing the ridiculous, find reasons that make it plausible. Try taking a side you don’t agree with and challenge yourself to argue.
What are you enjoying about writing and teaching opinion/argumentative writing?