Explore one of these websites that are extremely popular with teenagers:


Smoking Gun


Perez Hilton 


Then compare the topics presented, vocabulary, sentance structures, with a couple of teen safe sites:


Teens safe sites


What are the similarities and differences? What are your concerns about the sites? What are you learning about the literacy practices of teens outside of school? Brainstorm some ways teachers can bulid of the out-of-school literacy practices of teenagers.





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Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton are sites designed around the eye catching news that focuses on the gossip about celebrities. They are focused on exposing all the wrong doings of the celebrities and only focusing on the negative news. Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton are not a credible sites for news that is affecting the world we live in. These websites not only project negative information through their linguistic language but also through the images and color schemes used in these pages, they give you a dark and gloomy impression. The last thing I would like to point out about these sites is the slang and abbreviations used in what appear to be sentences. Perez Hilton even used an inappropriate cuss-word to address the audience. (to give you a hint the true meaning is a female dog) With teens looking at sites like this it is no wonder why they use inappropriate language in school as if it is just another common word in the English Speaking Language. These sites offer no instruction or examples for our students to follow, while the information might be entertaining and interesting to our students, it is presented in an inappropriate form. If this is the information the seek then they should visit a safe site such as: People.Com. These "safe teen sites" have a very different approach. They are not crowded with celebrities and models, these sites are filled with pictures of "real" teens and links that inspire learning. While a majority of these sites are directed towards helping the child increase an understanding of something they are disguised well so the teen is not really aware that they are "learning", they think they are just surfing the web.

My concerns lie in with the websites such as SmokingGun and PerezHilton, these are not good examples for students to follow, but I am afraid many students will not see the wrong doing behind these sites. Not only is their language obscene and improper in grammatical format, but their intentions are of a negative matter. To basically pick at other people's lives and make comments, whether they damage someone's self-esteem is of no concern to them. This is not how we want our students to act, but this is what they are observing!

Literacy Practice out-side of the school has been greatly influenced by the developments in Technology. Its hard to believe that the Internet was created in 1995, that means it has only been up and running for 15 years! It went from be a source of information to a place to create and recreate information. It has greatly affected the way we communicate as the advancement in technology in general has. Communication is easier then it has ever been, and this will probably only improve. Many students are involved with communicating with their peers whether it be by phone, text messages, instant messaging, or social networking. They are constantly writing and reading through these new ways of technology. The invention of MySpace and Facebook has allowed many students to express themselves through words and images on a profile. This is huge when it comes to literacy and learning, because they must understand how they want to write their passages and how others will interpret those passages. To think they are learning when they think there just being "cool" on the internet.

The question these new developments in Technology create, are how do we incorporate these into our classroom to keep our student's interested in learning. I am a Business Education Major and my classes will be focused around new technologies, so the more I can incorporate into my classroom the better! The first thing that comes to my mind is the site we are participating in, Ning. This is a social network, just like Facebook and allows the students to express themselves as an individual while we are still capable of incorporating learning and literacy through blogging activities. This allows encourage communication, which is important in many student's lives. We must be sure to find ways to allow them to communicate if we want them to reach their full potential for learning. Another way technology can help aid in literacy development is by allowing the students to select an appropriate article, this could be about a specific subject of just something they are interested in, have the students read the article and create a summary of the main points. From here the technology avenues you could use are endless, you could allow the students to create a collage, powerpoint, webpage, blog post, video, or visual graph. The students will love the freedom to pick the article and then get to create something demonstrating their understanding. It is a way to meet the students in the middle by allowing them a little freedom and room for creativity we can complete the curriculum that needs covered. While there are endless possibilities that I could mention, the main point here is we need to focus on the interests of the student and use these advances in technology as a benefit and not let them create a barrier between the student and the teacher.

The possibilities are endless and so is the learning!
I think you demonstrate a strong understanding of the potential in using student interests to imporve motivation to read and write. What do you think of this lesson plan?
I think it is a great lesson and a great way to get the student's involved in the understanding of what they are reading. Sounds Like a great way to involve the students!!
I agree that it is extremely important to incorporate technology into our classrooms as much as possible. I like your ideas on having them create a blog or powerpoint. These are are technologies that I have used in school and out of school. They are tools that they can carry with them and learn more ways to incorporate them into their every day lives.
In all three sites, the media is trying to get teens attention. In the Smoking Gun site, they are using the legal troubles people and even celebreties get into. I found it in bad taste, especially when the article was presented about Michael Jackson in his casket. The Perez site was basically a National Inquirer on the web. It was filled with celebrity mishaps and gossip. Also the language in the Perez site was not appropriate. The safe sites were all approved by teachers or parents. There were quite a few and I don't think any teen would be willing to sort through them. The safe sites seemed to be more geared for "tweens" rather than teens. Both the smoking gun and the perez site were short eye catching blurbs. Teens pick what is is they want to read based on their own interests, or what their friends are interested in. The teens' world of today is way different than it was when I was in High School. There is a huge difference in the ways teens read, write, create and think outside of school and those they are expected to do inside of school. Today's students do not consider a gap between online and offline living is the same thing we should strive for as teachers. As teachers we should use as many digital aspects of teaching in order to get through to our students. Some ways we can do this are creating live journals using the web, using podcasts or just basically teaching a student to "read" online information, judging it critically and ussing reading skills to scan and decipher new information. Technology is here to stay and we should learn how to use it for the benenfit of our students.
THe following activity might be a good way to address the issue of gossip in your classroom:

Have student A answer the follow questions. (Don't show to student B)
1)Why do people gossip or like gossip?
2)Have you ever started any gossip?
3)Do you read gossip columns in magazines? Why are these so popular
4)Do you think it’s right that gossip columnists can make a lot of money writing bad things about people that may not be true?
5)What is the most malicious piece of gossip you’ve ever heard?
6)How do you feel if people gossip about you?
7)What’s the difference between gossip and a rumour?
8)Eleanor Roosevelt said: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Is this true?
9)Why do you think gossip is sometimes ‘hot’ and sometimes ‘juicy’?
10)Do you think people who gossip lead sad lives?

Have student B answer the following questions (Don't show to student A)
1)What is gossip?
2)Have you ever been the victim of gossip?
3)Are you a gossip?
4)How often do you hear gossip?
5)Are you interested in celebrity gossip?
6)Do you like to know all the gossip about your friends and neighbours?
7)Who is the biggest gossip you know?
8)How quickly does gossip spread in your school / workplace?
9)What are the most common subjects of gossip?
10)Is there any gossip about your teacher?

Have students get together to share and discuss their answers then write a three page essay taking a position on the value of gossip in our society.

What do you think?
i love the eleanor roosevelt quote...my nother was a literature teacher and we grew up having to memorize quotes and recite them at the dinner table for allowance money!.. emily dickinson is a personal favorite of mine. in thinking about gossip at school and at the workplace...this would be a good anonymous survey ato give at most workplaces.
The Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton sites are what are students want to know about. They want to know about gossip and rumors and what is going on with our favorite celebrities and athletes. We can call it not credible and not worth while, but obviously this is catching their attention to read. The slang and colors on the pages have a lot to do with it. When students can read something that catches their eye like WOW tehy just said that on here, they will continue to read the story and learn baout the topic and most likely will continue to check back on these websites or books or magazines or whatever the reading material maybe. I think People.com uses some of the same ideas on its' website, it just does not use the slang. It sticks with proper english for all to understand. I feel as teachers we are inclined to teach these students with the culture they live in. If their culture uses the slang and uses gossip and celebrities to connect with them, then we as teachers should implement somelevel of this in our classrooms. It is different then worksheets and different then what we and most people are used too but it isn't about right way or wrong way, its just about them learning. If it takes slang, gossip, rumors, athletes, or whatever it may be on these sites that catches their eye, I do not see why we cannot use it to a degree in our classrooms.

I've learned the students are going to read what they enjoy. For example, I love to read about sports, whether it's a book, a magazine or an article online I will read it. If you tell me to read for class, its like pulling teeth. We all can relate to this in one way or another. We have our favorite subject and topic and choose to read it to learn about it. Students are the same way. We have to connect with them on their level of interests and still teach them material they need to know.

I think as a PE/Health Major we can incorporate some of the slang they use and some of the mug shots. We can use this as WHAT NOT to do. The athletes play a role in students lives. They look up to them. In PE we use various athletes as role models on posters and such. We can also use them as a learning tool to explain to students this is what happens if you break the law and rules. Also, we can use the music they like in our classes. They love music and tend to pick up trends celebrities have. We can also use videos of celebrities, athletes or movie stars talking out against drugs, violence, bullying, or STDs or whatever the topic may be in our lesson. For example on Perez Hilton, Lady Gaga is speaking out against AIDS and going out helping making women more aware that they are more at risk then men. They are trying to put the risks out there and help try to stop the spread. This could be used as an educational tool, just showing that celebrities know the risks and are human too. I could use this in a health class.

There are ways to incorporate intersts of our students out-of-school literacy practices into our classrooms,we just have to be creative. We have to look at these sites in a positive way and take some good out of each, rather than the negativity which could easily be pulled off the Snoking Gun and Perez Hilton.
I really like your ideas for using Perez Hilton and Smoking Web sites in ways that incorporate ciritical literacy! Critical Literacy is an instructional approach that advocates the adoption of critical perspectives toward text. Critical literacy encourages readers to actively analyze texts and it offers strategies for uncovering underlying messages. The central premise is that literacy requires readers to adopt a critical and questioning approach. According to proponents of critical literacy, it is not simply a means of attaining literacy in the sense of improving the ability to decode words, syntax, etc. In fact, the ability to read words on paper is not necessarily required in order to engage in a critical discussion of "texts," which can include television, movies, web pages, music, art and other means of expression. The important thing is being able to have a discussion with others about the different meanings a text might have and teaching the potentially critically-literate learner how to think flexibly about it.I'm really impressed that your are thining of ways to incoraporate literacy learning in the content areas of P.E and health!
The Perez Hilton and Smoking Gun sites appeal to teens and (many other people, as most likely the targeted demographics for these sites would be 20 something females) on a few base levels. It takes the lives and fashions of celebrities and other notable personalities and shows them at their worst. At times these sites blog or report information that is sometimes only marginally accurate at best and simple gossip at worst. The appeal therefore, is to witness the fall of these famous people and simply be able to equate them on a level more at par with the rest of society. The use of sometimes offensive language, current slang terms and risqué topics is also a draw to some viewers of these sites. Pop culture works its way into many aspects of our daily lives from our speech to our sports to our television viewing and even into the classroom. In a manner of speaking these type of sites are a preview and catalyst for new topics of discussion for our pop culture and therefore most teens would find it important to stay current on new additions into our pop culture.
The teen safe sites are more interested in delivering content in a filtered manner that will not expose viewers to topics that may be offensive or not completely contextually understandable to some age groups. These sites also tend to focus on the less controversial subject matter. Of course where the internet is concerned there will always be introduction of some material that will need to be filtered by the individual viewing the site. Advertising, bias and inadvertently incorrect facts will need to be siphoned from whatever is being presented. This ability to understand and discern correct from incorrect facts, advertising and media slant will all become part of the new literacy as it relates to the internet and using it as a learning tool. Obviously many sites are strictly limited to academic pursuits, however, as it has been with textbooks, these sites will appeal to only a limited number of students and it is important to interest the learner and therefore educate the student on how to investigate and understand what they are viewing on the internet. Use of the internet as a teaching tool is only limited by the creative desire of the student and teacher.
I like that you are picking up the critical literacy potential of the Internet. You might some interesting media literacy activity for Social Studies on this site:
Looking at these top two teen’s sites Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton, we can see nothing, but negative connotation. The first site, Smoking Guns uses a dark color scheme, to connect to the theme of the website, which list all the negative things done by well known people all over. This type of site can give kids a negative outlook on life and make them think that maybe this is a way of life since the people who are stars and well known participate or do these the unlawful things from day to day. In the second site Perez Hilton, the color scheme draws in especially young teenage girls, because it has bright colors and an attractive layout. Teens think this information is what Hollywood and stars are all about they never see the positive through this website. They are introduced to a variety of different types of lifestyles that are particular negative and most likely false.
Through both of these websites we can see the use of incorrect grammar and literacy, as well as seeing the type of language and expression presented on these websites, gives reason to why students today use this language in schools even though it’s not appropriate. The eye-catching colors, images, information, and language are what attract the teens of today to these types of websites. The last thing that plays a big life in teen’s life today is the fact of bullying, because through these website, you can see that they are picking on and stereotyping or just plain making fun of the famous people who are in the world today. This type of site play major role in the way teens react today in society.
In the classroom we need to start incorporating technology more in an everyday setting to help kids realize that these types of site are not what they want to see in their future and through the safe teens site, they present students of their age, giving life inspiring stories that could make a turnaround in the way teens are in the world are today. There are many types of site out there with reliable information if the teens are introduced to them. Yeah the colors and the layout might not be as attractive, but the end results are what matter in life, not the appearance.
There are many ways that we can incorporate technology into the classroom today. To make your students see that you want to make their life inside and outside of school connect and to make school more hands on and technological involved, we can start the school year off by allowing them to create a Photo Story about themselves, as a getting acquainted activity. This gives students the opportunity to learn about one another and use a variety of technology. Giving the students freedom is key to success to learning in some settings. So if we wanted we could allow students to choose a book that interest them or a topic and allow them to read or research and then choose to create a podcast, website, PowerPoint, digital story, or any other form of technology that might be available. Also to ensure the students are doing their work instead of journaling on in a book, allow them to create an online account like NING and blog about their progress on a project. There are many different ways that technology can be incorporated in the classroom. If we as teachers don’t start allowing this to be used, student interest in school is going to keep fading away and their education will most likely suffer. So as teachers we need to make sure this is incorporated in the classroom starting when they enter school.



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