We've all done it: Hit "send" on an email to a friend with the word "you" abbreviated to "u" or "meeting" shortened to only the most needed consonants.
But these slang texting phrases common in chat rooms are popping up in formal work being submitted in many schools, including Lodi Unified School District.
"Using text in formal papers or any other traditional academic work is not OK," said Christa McAuliffe Middle School teacher Martha Snider. "I don't know of a teacher who believes otherwise. I, myself, don't even favor it when using social networking sites with students. Former students whom I friend on Facebook also have to honor my policy of 'spell it out.'"
The teacher, who regularly integrates the Internet into her daily lessons, thinks there's an upswing in students using texting lingo.
Lodi High School English teacher Jerry Pike said that every now and then he sees the "u," but more commonly is coming across "I" written as a lower-case letter when referring to something in the first person.
"When I tell my students that "I" isn't written in lower-case, they actually look surprised and say, 'Really?'"
Yuen Ng, a recent Lodi High School graduate, said instructors warned students about using texting slang in formal essays.
"It seems that the problem is significant enough for the teachers to lecture the class as a whole about it," Ng said.
Ng said the most frequently used slang terms in high school writings are "gotta," "u" and "ain't."
Elainee Stokes, who attends Lodi High, said she and her friend were working on a project for science last school year when the other student used "u" instead of "you" and "wat" instead of "what."
"My teacher was proofreading it, and she told us to change it," she said.
Snider said there will come a day when you find "lol" and other abbreviations in traditional "old-school" hard-copy dictionaries. But in the classroom, students should avoid abbreviations all together, she said.
In the end, Lodi High's Pike believes the bigger issue is texting in general.
"So many students spend hours doing it that they are easily distracted from doing things like homework." he said. "They'd rather text than read an assigned book or write an essay."
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.