I tried a new lesson this week that went very well, so I thought I'd share. The topic this week was communication, and on the day in question we were focusing on verbal/nonverbal aspects (open your hymnals to FACS National Standard 13.3!). For this activity, each student first had to write down two pieces of news that would be really hard to have to deliver to someone. The examples I gave were "Your dog died, your uncle has cancer, you have to repeat 8th grade." They wrote each idea down on a card. Some examples they came up with: pregnancy, house robbery, stolen car, boyfriend/girlfriend cheating, parents getting divorced, failing math. I shuffled them up, then they each had to draw two cards. They read the cards, then had to write out a text message for each one as if they were telling a real person. I encouraged them to use real text-ese, with the stipulation that they could not use school-inappropriate language. I allowed them to work in groups to help each other, but they each had to complete their own. They really got into it! And of course the conversations they had in their groups captured the essence of the lesson: "Man, this is hard!" "This is AWKWARD!" etc, etc.
We posted several of them on the board so that everyone could read them. Then we had a large group discussion about the disadvantages of texting, which led into the point that body language, etc, is the crux of communication.
Note: this went along easier with my 8th grade students than the 7th grade students. It took the 7th graders much longer to make the connection between the texting activity and the importance of non-verbals, but they got there eventually.