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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Great thoughts about integrating technology your classroom based literacy practices! I think you made good point about how the texts that are popular with teenagers often reflect negative ways of being and thinking. I think we might be able to use these texts to promote critical literacy skills in which students begin to question the truthfulness of the texts and the motives of the author. Here is a site with lesson plans to promot critical literacy:
Hey Amber-

How do you see yourself, in your own classroom as the teacher, incorporating blogs. I love blogs. I found the blog site classpress.com to be safe and secure for students.

I like how you said that if we don't change the way we teach then we are going to lose students. So true!
Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton are both obviously not kid friendly sites and shouldn't even be accessed in a school setting. I took a closer look at the Hilton website the content there is sexual content on the website that would have no business in the schools. Pictures with drawings of body organs and risky advertisements. Its not much more then a gossip colum. I then looked at the teen friendly websites and I had some concerns about them. Ask Kids.com is and ok site for kids wanting to look up information and could be a good resource but, the kid safe link also had myspace on the link and as much as I like myspace, facebook, etc. they are not good websites for kids to be on. Kids in the middle school shouldn't be using those sites and if you are in high school using it you need to be smart and know who your dealing with. The kid safe sites some had no graphic content like the Perez Hilton website but websites like myspace and facebook anyone can add things to those sites and they can have some graphic content. I teachers are going to assign assingments that require sources from the internet then the teacher needs to either post links to good websites he or she is ok with, or run the risk of a child finding something they shouldn't be seeing. If you type in any actress or even a phrase in a seach engine your not likely to find a kid friendly website...
Great observations! I think it is the job of educators to teach students how to access appropriate information on the Internet! We will talk more about how to do this throughout the semester!
Tyke, Your concern about websites that students access in school is a concern for us all. When designing a lesson or activiy for students you must have sites already for them to use. 'Surfing' should not be a way of researching in school. I teach computer classes at the middle school level and it is an unending task to keep students out of inappropriate sites and to keep them from searching 'images'. lol Even looking up a mascot for a school newsletter can lead to quite interesting images. Most school systems block MySpace.com, other social networks and mature websites. I even have a posted list of 'game' sites for kids who are finished with a project. Most of these sites are geared to keyboarding skills or educational munipulatives. Of course a few game sites are on the list, but only two that I have found appropriate.
The popular teen sites definitely use more improper language and slang that would appeal to teenagers, where as the teen safe sites are what would be considered appropriate for adolescents to search through. My concern with the popular teen sites would be that these so called "role models" are going to influence teens in the wrong way. For example, the smoking gun website included a very long list of mug shots and explanations of the crimes committed by sports players, hollywood stars, musicians, and much more. This is not sending out a positive message. On the other hand, teachers have no control over what students choose to read outside of school. However, I am sure there are many ways teacher can positively build on these out-of-school literacy practices of teenagers. Most school-aged children dread text book reading assignments. Teachers need to find a way to tap into the interests of these students. One way might be to have students visit two different websites to compare and contrast them, just as we are doing now. This would give students a chance to see that these popular sites sometimes convey the wrong messages. If teens never visit the teen safe sites, then they will never have anything to compare the not so good sites to. It might even also allow them to see that there are teen-safe sites out there that can be of interest, too. Another idea might be to allow students to bring preferred, acceptable reading material to class so when it's reading time they can read something of their interest. Teachers can stress that reading material of interest does not have to be negative. This is a great example of why teachers should get to know their students. It would allow teachers to stock their in-class book shelves with reading material that interested the students and was teen-safe. It could promote more desired reading the classroom, too.
Excellent ideas for how to negotiate students interest with appropriate reading material!
After taking a look at these different sites I could see correlations as well as differences. I felt that all the sites were geared to appeal to a teenage reader. They each shard attractive pages and cool interactive graphics. Beyond these simplistic exteriors, however, were many differences. The popular websites, Smoking Gun and Perez Hilton, were concerned with the latest celebrity gossip. They were looking for dirt and secrets to exploit. When it came to the vocabulary, it was very simplex. Perez Hilton’s vocabulary was often explicit with cuss words. The sentence structures were also very simple, but not lacked some grammatical structure here and there. The Teens safe sites were educationally entertaining and informing. The vocabulary and sentence structures were meant to enhance a student’s language skills. In the end, the purpose and point of these two different types of sites brings about the greatest example of how they differ. The first is trying to only entertain, while the latter is focused on informing. When it comes to my concerns, they apply solely to the first two sites. They not only foster poor and simplistic grammatical skills, but also implant negative perceptions and ideas. From the book I have come to see that according to the NLS, there is a great deal of literacy practice taking place outside of school. The type of literature one is gravitated to outside of school will impact what is learned during the time spent reading it. To students, outside school literature has more of a purpose since they get to initiate the practice. When it comes to building on a student’s out-of-school literacy, I have a few ideas. One idea would involve individual and/or partner projects. The student(s) would be asked to follow a certain educational format, but would be allowed to do the project on a topic of their choice (within reason.) The students would read an adequate amount of the literature and then present it with a prepared speech and visual aids. Another way to go by actually bringing in the literature to the classroom. The class could then participate in several activities to foster learning. Vocabulary building activates, grammatical practices, and essays and rewrite activities could all be done. I am sure that there are many other wonderful ways to incorporate inside and outside school literacy practices. It would just take time, as well as trial and error to find out what would truly work the best for a teacher and their students.
Fantastic! You have an excellent understanding of the readings and great ideas about how to negotiate students interests with appropriate reading material!
Well for one thing the smoking gun and Perez Hilton sites definitely use more slang terminology then the teen safe sites on the Perez site it actually referred to some woman as and I quote, a “Beyotch.” These sites are pretty much just celebrity gossip and goofy news which isn’t exactly substantial or educated reading. I actually heard about one of the articles on smoking gun on the radio and they were using it as a joke material for their show, it was about a man who tried to shoplift a bunch of lotion by stuffing it down his pants and they are trying to pass it off on this website as substantial news. Some of the things on these websites were actually really disturbing, one that I saw was they are coming out with a sexy sesame street Halloween costume line, which is never something I would want my teen girl to wear, it’s like a pedophile’s dream come true, and that’s just messed up. However it’s freedom of speech and there’s really not much to do to absolutely stop teens from viewing these sites, but we as teachers could help guide them through more appropriate sites that they would still find interesting. We definitely want them to continue reading, I had a teacher who used to start off her class by giving us newspapers and we would pick an article we liked then write a summary paragraph about it, I actually really liked it because I had never really read a news paper on my own before and I felt like I knew so much about what was going on in my community afterwards. Since my concentration is art I could incorporate that Idea with artistic oriented publications like Art Forum.
Excellent observations! We can also teach students how to critically analyze this inappropriate material! Our next assignment will help you find lessons that do just this! I think art teachers can play an important role in critically approaching media messages! We talk more about this latter!
The Smoking Gun appears to me to be an idiotic website where they show mug pictures, documents from cases, and old videos about many things such as V.D. and military training videos.
PerezHilton.com uses foul language and abbreviations that teens use daily. They have videos about upcoming TV shows, movies, and commercials. They have video clips of past shows and clips about Teddy Hilton, the dog. They have articles and photos about and of celebrities.
Both sites are easy to read and use lingo that is more towards teens. Both are very colorful and draw your eyes to look at everything on the page. The links are attractive and it makes you want to click on them. The way the articles are written makes you want to read more about the nonsense.
The Teen Safe Sites site starts off with a warning about who to talk to and what you say. That really isn’t a good way to get a teen to go further because they don’t like being told what to do or say. They want to be their own person and they think they know what is best for them.
The links are not very attractive. It is just a list that doesn’t really have any pictures. It doesn’t make me want to click on any of it. I don’t think teens would like this site at all. Plus, the name of the site is Teen Safe Sites. The fact that it is considered “safe” might turn teens away. The website itself is “funsties.com”. Fun isn’t what teens say anymore. This site doesn’t really draw teens in with the lingo like the other sites did.
The Smoking Gun site concerns me because it makes it seem like nobody’s life is personal. Anyone can know anything about everyone. However, teens won’t see it as a threat of their lives because they are indestructible. The PerezHilton.com site uses language that I wouldn’t want my teen to use and it makes it look cool. I was raised that the only time someone uses a curse word is when they don’t have a better word to say. Basically that they don’t know how to express how they are feeling or what they are seeing because their vocabulary isn’t very good. People who curse are not as intelligent as people who can find other words to describe what they are trying to say. Curse words are the easy way out and finding other words to replace them is harder and smarter. But that is just how I was raised.
Teens like gossip, they like to know what is going on in the world around them. They want to know more than the person next to them. These sites are ways for them to learn more than everyone else. What people looked like when they got arrested, what celebrity got into a huge fight over the weekend, everything. Then they can gossip about it later and feel better about themselves because they knew something that others didn’t.
Teachers can use these sites to see what interests their students. The Teen Safe Site might not be very interesting to look at but teens are using those sites that are linked. Maybe teachers can make their own web site that has links to articles that are about things they are interested in but are more reliable and uses appropriate wording (not WTF and ass). Maybe the students can bring in articles that are interesting to them and then swap articles with some one and then they try and prove it wrong and/or find the foundation of the article.
Maybe teachers can ask students what they would like to do to learn more about a topic that they are learning in school.
Some things that I was thinking about when I was reading these chapters were a few assignments. At the beginning of the year I could ask the students to write a paper about how they feel about math (there past experiences that may have developed those feelings). The difference is that they are allowed to use any and all abbreviations and slang that they want as long as they have a key that goes along with the paper. I would explain to them that this would be the only paper they were allowed to do this on so to live it up as much as they can. Another thing that I thought about doing in my classroom would be a gossip box. I don’t want students distracted in my class about what might be going on in the school and/or world. Therefore, if students have anything on their minds they are to write it down on paper and put it in the gossip box. Then they can go back to it at the end of the class.



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