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

I agree that the Perez Hilton contains vocabulary that is not appropriate and is not a site that I would encourage my students to use. I would like to encourage my students to use the other sites that are available to help them with their school work. I would like to have them use websites that catch up on topics that are interesting to them, but I need to do so also so that I can "get in tune" with what is "cool" with them. I'm a big fan of American Idol which is a way of building relationships and communications with my students. Currently, I'm wanting to use the mathematical possibilities with the Winter Olympics. I want to use these friendly websites to discuss the statistics and records of previous competitors.
I've enjoyed reading your thoughtful analysis related to your assignment. Your discussions reminded me of an interesting article that addresses implications of out-of-school literacy practices as they relate to writing:

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-09/st_thompson?utm_...
I have always suspected we were on the verge of a writing revolution! I have always thought that the complaints of professors that students turn formal writing with text messaging abbreviations sounded like urban myth. I've challenged teachers and professors to bring samples of student work with text message abbreviations and they never have. Thank you for this. I've posted it to my Facebook Group on Web 2.0 and Schools. Feel free to join that group too!
Thanks for the article post. It offered a different spin on writing today that I had never really considered. I have to agree that although much of our writing in online conversation can be in shorthand or in acronyms, there is much of it that is technically and grammatically correct. We've been discussing the Foxfire appoach in our class and one aspect that the approach includes is making student work public. All of this online writing and conversation allows for us to write and converse without our even realizing this aspect. Very interesting article.
The site Perez Hilton is filled with gossip. I believe that it is appealing to teenagers because it is things that are interesting to them. However the site uses slang and improper language. In the teen safe sites, which are also appealing to teens, it is written correctly and does not use terms that are offensive. Both sites use a layout that would be appealing to teenagers. I think one way that teachers can build out of school literacy is to know their students. Teachers should know what interests them and let that build on what they use in the classroom. Sites such as Perez Hilton and Smoking Gun, although appealing, influence teens that it is okay to speak the way they do and act the way the people in the stories do. It is important for teachers to use the students interest in a correct way so that they still see correct literacy.
Lesley-

Hi... Do you know of any ways we, as teachers, can get to know our students? I always use journaling and blogging as a way to get to know them. Also, interest invetories are great? Do you have any fresh ideas?
I'm only 24 but I feel so out of touch with today's teens. As I was reading over the Perez Hilton site, I was shocked. I've grown out of the Mtv stage so I haven't kept up with people like Perez. Holy crap! I wasn't personally offended by anything, but when my mom came into the room, I turned it off real quick like I was doing something bad -- I felt like I needed to hide it from her! After we both laughed about it, we looked at the page together. She, of course was more shocked than I was. The content is barely edited and the material is very insinuating, whether sexual or otherwise. Once I got over the initial shock of the site, I started paying attention to details like sentence structure and grammar. It's just like teens talk today. I'm surprised there weren't "textisms" in there beyond OMG. I just can't believe our youth are reading/watching this kind of stuff and taking it to heart. I know we're all naive at that age, but the concept of beind held accountable has gone by the wayside, so these "kids" aren't being taught to use their own judgement on the credibility of people like Perez.
On the other hand, the teen-safe sites were a breath of fresh air compared to Hilton. I like that they're taking social networking to a safe place for kids to use. Facebook and Myspace have become way too popular the world over to keep kids completely safe, so I was relieved to see social networks for teens.
I felt guilty asking you to read these sites but I thought it was important for us to know the kinds of things our students want to read and think about how we can capitalize these interest in a positive way. There are some interesting activities to get students to think about gossip and media in a critical way.
Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton are more of a gossip column then an actual website. These two websites are full of gossip that teens these days are interested in. The teen safe sites are more educational and available for research rather than the other two websites. I guess they are alike because they are both here to give information to teenagers, but not in the same ways. I think the concerns about the sites are that they are giving out the wrong message for teenagers today. They are stereotyping teenage life. Most of the teens today are not worried about learning about literacy they just want to be cool. I guess since they are reading they are learning some sort of literacy. The topics that are presented are totally different. The teen safe sites are promoting teenagers and it seems like the other websites are more geared towards the adults. The teen safe sites are using proper vocabulary while the other sites are using a lot of slang.
I like your ideas about the popular sites "stereotyping teenage life". I do think those site should not be assigned as reading material for school but I think you might be able to draw on other forms of popular media to get students to discuss how the media portrays teenagers in a negative way and have them create their own media products to portrays teenagers more accurately.
These first two sites focus on celebrities and gossip, which is what teenagers love. Teens now days want to "be in the know" which is why these types of sites are so popular. The problem with these sites is the termonology and slang used. I would not use these sites for literacy purposes. I do feel that it is important to have relevant, engaging and challenging reading materials for teens. Another problem I have with the first 2 sites is the content of the website. As a parent I would feel that this content is too mature for a teenager. The teen safe site I do feel is a better resource for teenagers' literacy. Although I do feel there are better reading materials than other I feel that it's important for students to being reading any wholesome, age appropriate materials. As a teacher I feel that it's our job to make our students aware of appropirate "out of school" reading materials and we should be encouraging them to read daily. The great thing about reading is we do it all the time, even the students who hate reading are constantly doing it.

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