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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Replies to This Discussion

These are very interesting ideas about negotiating student's interests in your classroom! Good job!
I enjoyed reading your comments about the websites. As an Art teacher, I liked that you brought in the visual aspects of the sites. These visuals are very enticing or distracting. This is very important to teens; they like to 'check out' how people look and they are interested in how sites look. They have a 'need' to look the look.
Great ideas.
cThe topics on Perez Hiltons site revolved around celebrities, their lives, and Twitter. I looked at two teen safe websites and they both dealt with their members, issues, and joining them on social networking sites. Some of the teen sites had memberships that made me wonder if they did any type of back ground check to become a member? On the Perez site anyone could get on, blog and follow Perez on Twitter. Although Perez's site might have slang on the site I felt he still had basic sentence structure and it was very clear he is no stupid. On the A-teen site they had opitions for member to write their own diaries and journals which I am sure they would be talking in the same slang terms. The topics on Perez's site were based on societies fascination of celebrities and I hate to say it but I went through the whole site because it seemed very funny. The content on this site does entertain me and I would read it at my luxury. On the teen sites it reminded me of topics that parents want their children to be interested in not real oncerns of teens. The sites reminded me of being appropriate for pre-teens.
I appreciate your honesty! Truthfully I also find the gossip site to be well written and cleverly written. However I do find it mean spirited. I don't think sites should be assigned to students to school but do think teachers can address the fine line between humor and bullying. I think it is important for students to understand the power of words and find ways to use them to create positive messages instead of hurtful ones. You did a great job analyzing the content of these sites!
The websites Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton that I explored were written to attract teenagers, they have everything teenagers are looking for, the celebrity dirt, fashionable clothes and purse ads, profanity, breasts, bare chested men and links to many other sites just like those. The Safe Teen Site, at a glance is perfect for the teenager, however as I explored the many links there were similarities to the Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton. The safe teen site does have warnings about chatting with people you don't know and giving out personal information and there are links to safe games, chat rooms and books. However, some of the links within the site were not so good. I found links to beer ads, half naked celebrities and celebrity dirt, some of which were found on the Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton.

My concerns about these sites is that they lure teenagers in by all the glitz, glam and language that they use, my other concern is are the safe teen sites any better with their hidden links?

Literacy Practices outside of school may not be what most would call literary because they are not what are taught in school. The literary practices that children pick outside of school may be more interesting to them but they still have to have the background knowledge to be able to understand the literary practice they are practicing.

I think teachers can build out-of-school literacy practices by giving the student some say in what they read, use some of their lingo to help them understand a concept, bring some of the technology that children like today into the classroom. Make learning fun, not a chore!
I appreciate you taking the time to do a thorough analysis of the teen safe sites! I found the teen safe site disconcerting in the amount of sites that directed students to buy stuff! Are cultural is priming our young people to become undiscerning consumers! I think these sites provide teachers with a perfect opportunity to promote critical media literacy!

I enjoyed reading your discussion. I think you make a valid point that some of these sites only make the celebrity lives seem more glamorous! However, I often talk about celebrities in my classroom during units. In fact, right now my kids are excited for American Idol....so, I may have them journal about this or blog. One of the best activities I used in my classroom was two weeks ago after the Grammy's. I showed pictures of some of the stars' outfits, and students had to write a simile about their outfits. The kids loved it. One student wrote: "Lady Gaga's outfit looks like spears piercing through an armor." Even something as simple as this, where I simply incorported photos and writings, excited the students. Also, it made it more memorable.
I agree that learning should not be a chore, but it is hard to make learning fun all the time. My son is 16 and has always hated to read. I read to him when he was little but still he did not like reading. His interests are in hunting and of course myspace. I wish he had a teacher that could incorporate his interests.
I agree Mary- It is hard to be "fun" all the time. I don't think fun is the right word though. I feel that we should engage them all the time...This means that we need to know our students and their interests. You are right.. no matter what we do, some students will just not like to read. But, does Luke read hunting magazines?
I tired to focus on some of the teen safe sites that had celebrity information, since much of the gossip on the Perez Hilton site centered around these people. With the amount of exposure kids have to the lives of celebrities these days it's nice to see that there are some sites that don't simply focus on the latest drug bust or sex scandal. These sites can present material about similar people without shedding light only on their negative experiences. Some of the drawings and vocabulary used on the Perez Hilton site are extremely inappropriate, regardless of age. The other websites do an adequate job of trying to draw excitement from the stories they share while still maintaining better structure in their presentation of the story. Aside from this, the other sites offer a friendly way for teens to try to connect with each other. Whereas the Perez site allowed blogging mainly to discuss gossip and negative stories, I felt that the other sites were more open for teens to discuss other aspects of their lives. They were able to talk about something happening with them rather than simply drawing off of a story about someone else. These other sites also offered opportunities to find help with school work. I feel like we as teachers could take advantage of sites such as these. I haven't been in the field very much but I'm sure it's rather difficult to have time for every student with every question. Of course the goal is to provide every opportunity for the students to succeed, but having some help couldn't hurt. Steering students towards some of these friendly sites that could offer some help with their work, as well as allow them time to catch up on some of the outside topics that seem interesting to them seems like a nice blending of interests to me. One would certainly need to ensure that the help being received outside was proper and correct, but once this was ascertained I feel as if some of these sites could be nice resources.
You did an excellent analysis of the differences between the gossip sites presented! I think you are on the right track in terms of being able to capitalize on students interest in your classroom!
Good overview of the sites. You are right about making sure that the sites are used correctly and appropriately for the age group who is the focus. Screening sites is an important element of using new technologies for our students.



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