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. Accessed on April 16, 2016.

Photo by Elizabeth Vidar, 17, North Hollywood HS Zoo Magnet.

L.A. Youth is an online newspaper “by and about teens,” according to its editor. It publishes first-hand accounts of teens’ experiences with college stress and personal troubles like racial identity, broken families, teen pregnancy, and drug addiction, among other issues.

By Jazmine Mendoza 16, Valley Regional HS #5 (San Fernando)

Distractions are all around us – Facebook, […]

Elizabeth Vidar/Photographer's Archive

I was confident the first day. I left my computer and phone on because I wanted to challenge myself by keeping temptations nearby. I felt more focused because I wasn’t thinking about checking my Facebook every five minutes. I spent only three hours doing homework instead of the six to seven hours I usually take. I even had time to read for pleasure before going to bed. The following day at school I felt better prepared because without distractions, I had fully understood the homework.

During the second night I found myself dozing off and getting bored since I was used to going online or calling a friend when my homework got hard. I didn’t want to cave in though, so I dedicated myself to doing portions of my homework for about an hour and then taking five-minute breaks. I didn’t use the breaks to go online though, because I knew that I’d stay on longer than five minutes. Instead I cleaned my room, got a snack or saw what my family was doing. Then I continued my homework more refreshed.

I repeated the same routine the third day, and will try to keep that routine from now on. Spending less time on Facebook made it less important. I knew I wasn’t missing out on much because I could go on later and nothing had changed. It feels good being on the computer less.

Available at . Accessed on April 16, 2016.

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By Jessica Marin

17, Culver City HS

Elizabeth Vidar/Photographer's Archive

The first day, I forgot that I had to be distraction free until I realized it took me 30 minutes to come back to a government question because I was texting my friends and checking my email. When I stopped replying to texts, I finished my homework in less than 20 minutes. I was able to work on college applications the rest of the night and go to sleep before 11.

I usually stay up until midnight and spend about four hours doing homework.

The next two days were not as successful. I tried not to get distracted by my phone but I couldn’t help it. I could have moved it away from my desk, but what if I missed an important call or text? Like what if my friend broke up with her boyfriend? I’m so attached to my phone that if I don’t have it near me I feel like a part of me is missing, which is not normal – it is just an object. Text messages would come in, I would ignore them but then another message would come in and another one after that one. I gave in and texted and called my best friend. We didn’t even talk about anything important, just the usual rundown of how our day went and complaints about our homework.

My mom said she knew I would fail this challenge because according to her I’m “addicted” to my phone. In my defense, the challenge worked for one day but then I went back to how things usually are, staying up until midnight. But I’m OK with that because I feel like I need mini-distractions during homework or else I’d go crazy.

Available at . Accessed on April 16, 2016.

2. What challenge was proposed to the students? Answer in your notebook.

a) To do homework or study without listening to music.

b) To do homework without electronic distractions for three days.

c) To avoid friends for three days.

3. Take notes about Jessica and Jazmine’s activities. What did they do on the first, second and third day?

4. Is there any newspaper like this in your city/state/country? What kinds of issues could be reported by you and your colleagues if there were one?

5. Would you accept the challenge of doing homework without distractions? In pairs, discuss your studying habits.

6. Do you prefer reading the news in print or online? What websites do you read?

7. Discuss with a partner the advantages and disadvantages of print and online newspapers.

Useful language

Expressing opinion

In my opinion…

To me…

I think…

I believe…

Useful words/expressions


multimedia options/availability/sustainability


a) Who chooses what is published in newspapers? What do you think they base their choices on?

b) How do you check the reliability of your source of news?

c) Do you think the news in and about your local community represents people from different social and economic backgrounds equally?

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Let’s focus on language!

Verb tense review

1. We use the Simple Past to talk about completed actions in the past, and we use the Past Continuous to describe an action in the past that was in progress. Based on this, read the excerpts and do the following activity.

Elizabeth Vidar/Photographer's Archive

Jazmine Mendoza, 16

“I was confident the first day. I left my computer and phone on because I wanted to challenge myself by keeping temptations nearby. I felt more focused because I wasn’t thinking about checking my Facebook every five minutes.”

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