Bringing Pop Culture into the Classroom

Each day as students walk through the doors of school they bring with them influences from home literacies. Children from ages 8-18 spend around 7.5 hours a day exposed to media, according to a report from Kaiser Family Foundation in 2010 (Schulten, 2010 Undoubtedly, the significant amount of time exposed to media infiltrates into classrooms everywhere. In middle schools and high schools, teachers overhear comments about last night’s television shows, constantly shout over the headphones, and witness the latest attempts to copy celebrity trends. Even in the younger years, popular culture influences the identities of children. Who has the Spiderman lunch bag? Can you sing all the words to Frozen? A Transformers t-shirt? Think about your own lives as adults. How much of it is spent watching your favorite show or surfing through a celebrity’s twitter?

Should media exposure at home and school be separated and feel like two different ‘worlds’? Many schools look at media as a negative influence on students so they it from classrooms like: music, magazines and clothing.

“Formalized educational spaces such as schools remain largely tethered to archaic notions of teaching, learning and inquiry. When new media and technologies are integrated into curricula, they are integrated within existing pedagogical frames that maintain uneven dynamics of power and authority” (Vasudevan & Hill, 2007: 5)

How can we as teachers help connect home and school for students? What are ways that we can utilize media influence as a teaching tool? Media literacy is the “ability to access, interpret, communicate, and create print, video, audio, and digital media texts” (Vasudevan & Hill, 2007: 3). Teachers can encourage media literacy skills by creating connections between media and students while building bridges across complex texts. The use of media is most often used in literacy classrooms to “facilitate traditional” learning outcomes, which according to research, is an effective way to engage students! Yet with high emphasis on student outcomes and testing, less focus is spent on the relationships between media and students. What are some ways that you incorporate popular culture into your own classrooms while still working toward standards?

Jesse Gainer (2010) states that, “…critical engagements with multiple media sources are essential for the preparation of participatory global citizenship” (p. 364). In order to be successful in today’s society, kids need exposure to the skills acquired by analyzing the media and the world around them. Media can be used to enhance teaching, but it can also be used in the classroom to prepare young adults for their futures and careers.

How can we encourage students to be media literate? When kids start to recognize that the media and literacy overlap, then they can begin to really analyze and reflect on the world around them. If they can see that concepts from everyday life translate into their interests and school, we are helping to build aware thinkers. For example, this video shows how the media and literacy are connecting by teaching literary devices through popular culture:Literacy Devices in Pop Culture

Check out the Twitter ‘feed’ below used in a classroom to synthesize positive thoughts about students’ day from the blog “What’s new in room 202?”


Here is a link of a song a teacher about the history of Galileo to the rhythm of the song Dynamite by Tao Cruz. This teacher took a popular song and turned it into a creative and interactive learning experience for students. Would you rather read about Galileo or learn a fun song about him? While students probably won’t memorize the song they are definitely more likely to focus on the topic and become more engaged! Galileo Song

Would you feel comfortable allowing students to write about video games or films? What about analyzing popular song lyrics? What do you think the reactions of your students might be if you incorporated pop culture into your classroom?

Here is a useful resource that allows kids to interact with the media, but also study its influences. Read Write Think offers a lesson plan analyzing the social perceptions created by the media: Read Write Think

Scholastic Pop Culture Reference also gives great examples of ways to engage students by incorporating pop culture into your classroom!

Happy Planning!  



29 thoughts on “Bringing Pop Culture into the Classroom

  1. Awesome post ladies!
    Students bring their home interests into the classroom everyday, so why not incorporate their interests into the classroom? In all classrooms teacher overhear students talking about television shows and popular music. Students are addicted to the media today! Based on their interests and preferences students become so wrapped up in what they love. If I were a student today I would be so overwhelmed by all the resources inside the classroom and test prep on a daily basis. Students need to have fun and enjoy what they are learning. I would love to incorporate media into the classroom. It would make students a lot more engaged and interested. I feel that more students would participate and share their thoughts and ideas. I have students who rarely ever participate inside my classroom, however, if I ask a question about something different from school they respond to me. Some students are so uninterested in school and curriculum and I feel that if make the slightest change it can make he biggest difference. In my classroom today as a warm up my students and I play music and dance. This is a great way for students to release energy. It is a mood changer as well. Music makes people so happy!
    I do not think that media exposure at home should be separated from school. I think that connections are wonderful. Students can still read, write and speak about television shows, music etc. this allows for students to gradually become aware thinkers.
    One way teachers can incorporate media into the classroom is to teach nouns, verbs and adjectives using song lyrics. Teachers can even play the song for the students to listen and then complete a T Chart for parts of speech. This could be a fun 2nd and/or 3rd grade lesson.
    I would definitely feel comfortable having my students write about films and video games. I would be sure to have a clear objective and task. Students would be motivated to complete their work and they would be filled with great ideas. I believe that student write so much more in health when they enjoy what they are writing about.
    Great resources!!!


  2. Great post! Thanks for all the useful links – so much to consider.

    Vasudevan and Hill explain, “As young people develop their facility with new technologies, geographies, and communicative modes, so, too, must their spaces of education grow and expand to accommodate this evolution.” (Vasudevan and Hill, p.5) They go on to discuss how the majority of our schools are not places where our students are being educated to think comprehend, think critically and communicate within these modes of technology. The gap between how they communicate outside of school and what they are learning inside of school is becoming larger. I would imagine that for some this is not always an easy switch. Vasudevan and Hill go on to discuss how our students are, “ engaging in new forms of “reading” and “writing” that involve composing and responding to messages posted on public comment areas and creating slideshows and movies that serve to mold the identities they are cultivating.” (Vasudevan and Hill, p.6) They are finding these spaces to create a community, build identities and share ideas.

    In Critical Literacy in Middle School: Exploring the Politics of Representation, Gainer discusses creating video with young people and their engagement with the process. Gainer shares Goodman’s ideas of film creation, “ The process of of creating video helps students “understand” how media acts as a frame and a filter on the world while appearing as a clear window.” (Goodman, p.6) The process of creating helps them think critically about the media that they encounter daily. The students can understand how opinions and ideas of the creators of the media can come through. Student-made multimodal narratives can engage them in many forms of communicating and thinking. Just in our short time at the “Burns”, we experienced creating a short clip from sharing our ideas with each other and the use of technology.

    “Taking five minutes at the end of the day when we were already suited up in goofy garb for Wacky Wednesday was the perfect opportunity to once again bridge the gap between what happens in the kids’ lives outside of school and what is going on in the classroom. As you’ll read in the rest of this post, I think it’s really important that the kids know that what matters to them, matters to me.” I love this quote from the teacher in room 202. We need to bridge the gap between their life outside of school and the classroom. Her ideas are fun and engaging – I bet they matter to her students as well.

  3. Great post ladies! I felt as though this post gave many examples on how we can bring pop culture into the classroom. In your blog you gave us several resources of how we can use pop culture in the classroom. You gave us examples such as having students use the base of a song and then remake it about a certain subject. You also gave us examples about how teachers can incorporate parts of movies, songs, videos etc into the classroom and have the students use them as examples. This allows students to bring their current culture into the classroom. I agree with Talia that there is no need for a separation of pop culture at home and in the classroom.

    In Critical Literacies in Middle School Gainer goes into details about how the process of creating and taking part in something helps aide students understanding. This allows students to value individual opinions and take advice as well as criticism from those around them. I compared this to our time at the Burns where we got to work in small groups and create pieces of animation using multiple different softwares. I feel as though allowing students of all ages especially middle schoolers to incorporate technology and pop culture in their classroom allows them too become more engaged in their learning process.

    I enjoyed your visuals and examples of teaching students the idea of creating a twitter and a Facebook by representing it with a visual demo in the classroom. Students wrote on post its making the experience low key, but at the same time connecting it to the use of these websites in the classroom. I feel as though as an educator I would allow my students to bring in media and pop culture into the classroom. I think that it is a great incentive to get the students interested in their writing if we allow them to write about video games and music, TV shows etc. I feel as though this post has given us many resources and different approaches to assignments and fun activities that we can use with our students in our own classrooms.

    • Yes! This relates to the Jacob Burns center and all the fun activities we took part in. Working with media promotes student engagement and partnership. Students can easily work in groups on presentations and build off of each others ideas and suggestions. Using media makes students want to learn and want to take part in assignments. It is not boring and it allows students to use many different technologies and resources.

  4. Hi Ladies,

    Great post! I love the connections you brought out from the articles!
    I think that it is so important for teachers to acknowledge students passions and their interests outside school in relation to pop-culture. My kindergarten students were obsessed with Frozen. It was all that they talked about, sang about, and all of their play was focused around the movie. There were two people in the classroom however who were unable to join in the hype. My co-teacher did not see the movie and she therefore did not know a lot of what the students were talking about. The other person in the room is one of children in the class. Her parents did not take her to see the movie, for whatever reason (some parents actually don’t like Disney movies) and she was therefore unable to join her classmates in the play and songs. It was sad to see that she was simply an on-looker whenever the rest of her classmates were engaged in Frozen related activities.

    I also recently heard of a teacher who has utilized an interesting tactic for classroom behavior. He teaches middle school and has read the Game of Thrones books, therefore he knows the plot, however he also follows the TV series. Whenever the students misbehave in class he simply writes the name of the next character that will die on the show, on the board. Being that his students are huge fans of the show, this works very effectively at getting their attention. While the punishment is completely unrelated to the behavior that they are exhibiting, it might be the closest and most meaningful way that he can express to the class that if they take away his teaching time, there will be a meaningful repercussion.

    It may seem hard at times to include the pop culture in our classrooms, however knowing about the references that the children are making, and sharing an interest or excitement in what they are taking about is a great way to validate your students lives outside of school in order to make them feel more comfortable in your classroom.

    • Valerie – you bring up such a good point!

      The little girl in your class that hadn’t seen Frozen probably did feel very left out of the loop. The district that I work in is very economically diverse…the students don’t have same opportunities to engage in media as some of their classmates. I frequently hear students saying things like “Oh my god, you didn’t see that episode?!” or “Wait, why don’t you follow me on Instagram?” not realizing that their friend may not have cable or a smart phone at home. When we incorporate media into our every day lessons, it is important to remember that some students will have more (or less) access than others. I’ve known teachers who have given the homework assignment to watch a YouTube video without even considering that some students might not have internet access at home to be able to do so. It’s an interesting, important, and complicated issue to keep in mind as media becomes an increasingly more prevalent aspect of our teaching environment.

      Also, that teacher who issues Game of Thrones spoilers as punishment is pure evil.

    • That is such a hilarious way to keep students on task! Spoilers! I love the way you phrased this as a consequence that is meaningful to the students. If the student is indifferent to the consequence then it doesn’t work, it’s like assigning more hw to a kid that doesn’t do hw in the first place.

      I also truly agree with the idea of validating students’ lives outside of school. For example, “Game of Thrones” may not have appropriate content for school, but it is still a complex plot that requires a lot of serious thinking or imagining while watching. The students must have been so mad when the teacher put up the spoilers, but perhaps they learned their lesson.

    • Valerie,

      Like you, I teach in the primary grades and experience a lot of similar things in my classroom that you do in yours. Frozen has been such a hit in my Pre-K classroom, as well, and has luckily been an interest for mostly everyone. My students are engaged in literacy by drawing pictures and asking how to spell “Elsa” and “Ana”. It is great to watch their learning grow while they are having fun!

    • Valerie,

      I like that you mention the importance of simply knowing what students are talking about. I saw Frozen, too, and while I am tired of hearing “Ana and Elsa” and their singing I know that this is very relevant to my four year old students so I allow my students to ‘play’ Frozen. It is almost a language that they speak and a common playing field for each other. However, many of my coworkers have asked children to stop talking about Frozen because they are sick of hearing about it and think it is an obsession. I can’t help but wonder if they want to continue to play Frozen because some of the teachers are forbidding it. I agree that validating students interests and being able to understand their ‘language’ is essential to creating a student-centered environment.

  5. Great post! I especially love all of the links that you shared. You provided us with great resources that can be put to use.

    As you stated in your post, students are so enthralled with pop-culture and the media in this day and age when these things are so accessible. I’ve seen a variety of social media sites incorporated into classrooms, just like you showed with the picture of the classroom Twitter ‘feed’. I especially like your reference to teachers creating songs using the tunes of popular songs on the radio; what better way to get students interested in content than with a tune that they know?

    I believe that incorporating pop-culture and the media into classrooms is easier to do when students are older (I’m thinking 3rd grade and up), but how would you do so in younger grades, such as K, 1 and 2? I know that they know Disney songs from the movies (Val, my kindergarteners are hooked on Frozen, too), and many popular songs on the radio, but what are some ways that teachers can incorporate pop-culture and media into the younger grades? Any ideas are welcome!

    • Hey! I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate this in the younger classrooms as well. I was in a first grade room last year and am in a second grade room this year. These kids, although they may not have a “facebook” or other social medias, they are familiar with them. Therefore the mock site such as the twitter feed picture above could be used in a classroom. We’ve also used song lyrics to find sight words, alliteration, or other spelling patterns that are within the learning that we have done together!

      I’ve noticed that a lot of shows lately on television have blog (Dog With a Blog, iCarly, or Good Luck Charlie) and if students are familiar with these shows, they could make a blog post or newscast to share with their classmates or put on the class website! You could also practice literary techniques such as visualizing or making connections with movie clips or songs!

    • Hey,
      I am trying to think of ways to incorporate pop-culture into younger grades too! I have come up with a few ideas and maybe through sharing here we can find some more ways to incorporate pop-culture.
      When we do journal writing in class, the children are allowed to write about whatever they want. I encourage topics such as family events however some children do take advantage of writing about pop-culture here too. Additionally, during snack time, we encourage conversations at the tables and if no one seems to be talking i’ll ask some prompting questions to start a conversation. I will ask if there is a song that the kids like or a show that they enjoy and often the conversation flows from there.
      Lastly, there is a website called where actors from the screen actors guild read a story on camera. The children love listening to the story on the different medium and they think it is amazing to see actors and actresses who they see on TV reading them books!

    • Kori,

      I totally agree.. it is easier when students are older to easily incorporate it into lessons. It’s less of a distraction for them, they have been exposed to more, they understand more connections…. I’ve had an easy transition doing so last year with my 3rd graders and this year with my 4th graders.

      As for younger grades, you can still bring in music and movies that they are aware of. It would get them excited but you would have to make sure they would not lose control. Again, as I mentioned below, the flocabulary raps and videos are great for students of ALL ages. You can discuss feelings of certain characters or lyrics to relate them to the students.

  6. Bringing pop culture into classrooms can be a great way to get in tune to our students’ interests, but it can also be scary and dangerous if we don’t help teach our students to critically analyze the media in their lives. I think the best way for them to learn is for us to allow opportunities for our students to be more involved with multimodal texts where students are the encoders and their classmates become the decoders (Gainer) For example, in multimodal narratives students “can play with, resist, and critique dominant discourses while the reimagine new possibilities for alternative social realities through the production of counternarratives” (Gainer, 365).

    I think the sources you ladies posted from Read, Write, Think are a fantastic tool to help students make sense of media and it’s underlying message. I also loved the Youtube video and thought it was so clever how the video displays literacy devices in popular culture videos. This made me think of having students do an activity just like the video where they try to find literacy devices in their favorite videos. Also, thinking about the question Kori posted about bringing pop culture into the classroom for younger students, I think using kid-friendly video clips as examples of literacy devices would be a fun, engaging, and memorable way to teach literacy.

    The Galileo song made me think about my junior year high-school chemistry teacher who would make chemistry related songs using the tune of popular songs on the radio. He would even allow us to make our own song for extra credit. I would love to do the same with my students, and I would welcome my students to write about their favorite films or video games because it is what engages them. For example, you can have students write an argument piece for why a basketball team should have not traded a player, or an opinion piece on a favorite movie. There are so many fun things we can do if we take the time to think and look.

  7. What a great post this week reflecting on Pop Culture in the Classroom!

    I never thought much before about how much of an influence pop culture has on students at school. The rhetorical questions you write about in the beginning of your paragraph are brilliant examples of how often we see pop culture in our everyday lives as teachers. I teach in a Pre-K classroom where students are constantly continuing to build their relationships through their common interests of pop culture. Who is going to be Katy Perry for Halloween? Who has the newest Ninjago backpack? Who saw the Lego Movie first?

    For the older grades, your connections to social media fit perfectly into this topic. I find it brilliant when teachers incorporate social media in the classroom. This is the type of technology students are exposed to in their everyday lives, why not use it at school to help the learning process?

    The different medias you included in your blog post; video, song, pictures, all touch upon the importance and significance of how teachers can incorporate pop culture in the classroom. It is a fun, creative way to make learning fun for all ages!

    Awesome job, again!

    • I agree with what you in the fact that we as educators do not always think about the pop culture of our student. We need to take the time and allow our students to bring in their common interests. I like the way you asked questions to what these ladies focused on in their blog. This brings fourth the idea that we each have to take the time to ask these types of questions. I agree that they incorporated multiple forms of media and this goes hand in hand with our course where we are learning to incorporate technology into our classroom.

  8. What a great Blog!
    Pop Culture is a great way to engage students as you stated in your blog. It would be unrealistic to think that students do not bring their experiences from home into school. Their experiences from watching movies, TV, sports and listening to conversations around them influence their learning everyday. Their “nonacademic textual experiences” have an influence on their entry into school literacy. (Dyson 2003 p.101) I hear my students as they come into the class in the morning discussing movies, Pokémon cards and other at home pop culture activities and experiences. I know as teachers, we just spent about 15 minutes of our lunchtime discussing TV shows, movies, and texting conversations. Pop Culture should be embraced as a strategy to engage all students. The media that they engage in at home should not be separated from the learning that they do in school. It reminds me of how we teach children to use their “schema” for learning; which should include pop culture.
    The youtube video was perfect!! Media should not be seen as negative but as another approach to teaching a concept or a skill. How can we do this? Well, we can do some of the activities that were used in your blog, we can use some of the activities that were used in the Duncan-Andrade article Turn Up That Radio, Teacher: Popular Cultural Pedagogy in New Century Urban Schools. “Popular media texts such as films, given their thematic nature, can also be used as springboards to launch critical classroom discussions and assignments.”(Duncan-Andrade & Morrell 2005 p.298) Popular Culture can be used to teach many of the common core objectives. However, many teachers are tied to teaching out of textbooks that are “tied” to the common core. Teachers need to be given the freedom to use their education (degree, schooling) to bridge the home and school so that they can reach their students with activities such as these! Last week’s article showed that students can succeed when allowed to bridge popular culture with school literacies. I feel that if a teacher utilized an interest survey to incorporate these interests into the curriculum she/he would engage more students because they would be “interested”. We have to embrace change and use it to help our students learn; with or without the common core.
    Dyson’s article this week really showed that children’s learning is tied to both their school literacies and home literacies from as early as kindergarten. The children in that article might have been labeled as “All” students, but these students had some “schema” for learning and were able to bridge school with home.

    • I liked your comment about allowing teachers to have “freedom” and the ability to use what they learned in school. Incorporating pop culture really allows for that freedom while still meeting requirements and standards. Most importantly, it allows kids to use their interests. I agree that an interest survey would reveal results to back up this theory.

  9. Awesome post – and definitely a topic that is relevant to ALL of us as teachers!

    My students (7th graders) are always coming in with references from their favorite TV shows, songs, and video games. The difficult part, however, is to connect their media knowledge and literacies with our content in meaningful ways. I try to use media in my class all the time because I know that it is something that immediately engages my students; it almost seems as if I am meeting them on their own playing field. All of a sudden, they are eager to pay attention and make connections. Just recently, we were discussion different rhetorical devices and persuasion tactics and I showed them different commercials on TV that utilize the tactics that we were talking about. They LOVED analyzing the commercials and magazine ads because they referenced elements of pop-culture. The trick, however, was getting them to apply those same analytic strategies to the complex text we were reading in class….

    When it comes to pop culture, our students will always be two steps ahead of us. Every day, they tell me about some song I’ve never heard of or some celebrity I’ve never seen. They use their smart phones all day, try to sneak their headphones in their ears during class, and relish any time they get on the computer. Our students are desperate to engage with media and, as teachers, we can use this to our advantage. By bringing media into the classroom, we can meet them half way. I love the Galileo song that you added in here because it’s a perfect example of using media to engage our students. Even when I was in middle school, I remember my teacher teaching us rap songs about the three different branches of government. To this day, I can still list all of the powers of the legislative branch thanks to that rap.

    • I love how you wrote “we can meet them half way” through bringing pop culture into the classroom. That is a great way to think of it. The rap song you learned about the three branches of government made me think of a song I learned in school to memorize the seven continents. To this day, if I am ever asked to list them, I sing the song in my head and list the continents in the order I learned them in the song. It really shows how we can remember and retain so much information if it is encoded in song! The hard part is coming up with our own songs and raps for our students, but I think having them come up with their own for extra credit and having the students vote on the best ones they’d like to use for learning a concept would really engage students and let their creativity run wild!

  10. Amazing post! It definitely makes sense to bridge the gap between “home” and “school” lives. As teachers, we always talk about how important it is for the content we teach to have relevance and applicability to the students within our classroom. What’s a better way to be relevant than to incorporate media and culture into everyday instruction? By taking part in the practices mentioned within our readings and your blog post, students will find interest in the topics at hand and then also apply new skills or thoughts when interacting with pop culture outside of a school setting.

    I loved the link on how to teach literary elements through song, film, and other forms of media. By providing these popular clips as examples, students are more likely to hold onto this new information and apply the knowledge towards other songs or movies. A few years ago, when I was a substitute teacher, the students in a fifth grade classroom were learning about similes. After learning what a simile was, they were able to listen to the song “Love You Like a Love Song” by Selena Gomez. They had to use their listening skills to identify the similes within the song. Then, they had to find similes in the printed lyrics of “Firework” by Katy Perry. They absolutely LOVED this activity and are more likely to remember that literary element.

    I also loved the classroom Twitter poster that you posted. Why not use Twitter in an educational way? This will teach students how to productively use social media as well as teach them that everyone sees the “tweets” that you post! By using post-its, students can tweet about different topics on a daily basis or you can even use it as an open sharing technique! When the students are older and have access to phones and technology, you can actually incorporate Twitter into lesson plans and connect using hashtags, just as we have done many times within class!

    Pinterest is also an amazing way to find techniques that can help teachers bridge the gap between pop culture and the classroom. As long as the means are appropriate, media is an amazing way to explain information and even practice forms of knowledge within the classroom.

    • I also loved the twitter poster in the classroom. I think that this is a great way to begin the year and then move to the real technology as the school year progresses. The students will learn on post-its how to write short and concise tweets and then move this to the internet. This is another way to help them think about summarizing. I also use Pinterest to find teaching ideas that help to engage my students. Pop Culture can be used in any grade if the teacher takes time to learn what interest their students and make the connections.

    • I never thought of using Tweeter that way, but you are definitely right when you say “This will teach students how to productively use social media as well as teach them that everyone sees the “tweets” that you post”. I never thought of it in that way, but students need to learn how to appropriately post to media and how anyone can see what they post! Sometimes we post things to the public without really thinking about the message we are giving, and using a class tweeter reminds students that what we say gets read so we need to be mindful of what we say and how we say it.

    • I had a similar experience when you were a sub in a 5th grade class! My students were learning something similar as similes. They took several songs of their choice and highlighted important text features they were learning about. Some teachers are hesitant about using social media, songs, videos, etc in the classroom; however examples like this show that teachers can in fact use songs that their students are interested in and will learn something from the lessons!

  11. Great post! I really liked the Youtube video about literary devices in pop culture and the image of the Twitter “feed” in the classroom. I have incorporated film analysis through comparing and contrasting the film versions of class texts, such as the various film versions of Romeo and Juliet, but after reading Vasudevan and Hill’s and Gainer’s articles, I realize that I have not been doing enough. I would like to help my students further improve their media literacy by having them analyze how media “authorizes particular values, beliefs, and identities” (Vasudevan and Hill 3) and give them opportunities to create their own multimodal texts which “challenge messages in dominant discourse…while they re-imagine new possibilities for alternative realities” (Gainer, 65).

    I think it is incredibly important for students to realize that no media “text” is neutral because it is constructed from a particular point of view that has the potential to sensationalize certain groups of people. In Gainer’s article, her students, of various academic tracks and socio-cultural backgrounds, were able to come to this realization on their own through discussing the interactions between a white teacher and her students of color in the popular movie “Dangerous Minds”. Particularly in the conversation between Beth, a Caucasian honors student, and Joe, a Mexican student in the regular academic track, the students clearly saw how “societal racism creates a structure that allows certain [media] messages to be heard while others are silenced” (Gainer, 367). I can see myself using popular films like “Dangerous Minds” to help my students investigate how societal racism influences the representations of certain groups of people, especially if we would be reading a text like Huckleberry Finn where racial tension in both the book and the real world cannot be ignored. I think many teachers are scared to bring up potentially sensitive topics in the classroom, but I feel like discussing scenes in popular movies can be the first important step to help students become aware of and ultimately resist discourses of mainstream media which marginalize their own or other groups of people.

    I have incorporated media into my own classroom through showing students commercials which utilized different types of irony (such as situational irony and dramatic irony). I made sure to use more current commercials, like this past year’s SuperBowl commercials, to help my students see how advertisers use irony to peak our interests and get us thinking about their products or services. I really like the idea of incorporating popular songs into the classroom; for a lesson on plagiarism, I brought in (school-approrpiate!) lyrics by Jay-Z and Biggie and showed them how Jay-Z downright copied some of Biggie’s lyrics, only changing a word or two to make it “original”. The students were really engaged in this lesson, since many had initially claimed that they liked Jay-Z better, but after debating Jay-Z’s claim that he plagiarized to “honor” Biggie’s legacy, we came to the conclusion that plagiarizing was wrong. Having this concrete example of plagiarism outside of writing their own research papers illustrated how plagiarism plays out in the “real world” and made them more aware of plagiarizing in their own writing. This was one of my most successful lessons, and I believe it had everything to do with incorporating pop culture into it!

    Another activity that I would love my students to do is to “close read” and analyze their favorite songs for literacy devices like similes, metaphors, allusions, etc. One of the English teachers at my school uses this assignment to help them see how songwriters (and not just “dead White guys”, as one of my students so eloquently put it) use literary devices to make their songs more interesting and meaningful. I think younger kids would also enjoy picking out the nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. in popular songs like “Firework” by Katy Perry. The challenge is in applying these skills to complex texts that they will be tested on, like it or not. However, I think incorporating popular culture into our classrooms as often as possible can provide our students with a more fun way to practice these skills, and keep them more engaged and excited to learn!

  12. Great post this week!!

    This topic is probably the most interesting one, in my opinion, that we have reviewed thus far. Bringing pop culture into the classroom is such a great way for us, as teachers, to connect with our students and include their interests in classroom lessons. As you mentioned, children from ages 8-18 spend around 7.5 hours a day exposed to media. That is crazy! They are already in school for 8 hours a day, where some of that media is being exposed to them but that shows how much more they are receiving outside of the classroom and how large of a part of their life it is. I know my boys come in every single day having a comment about some form of media. Whether that is a sports game score or a new youtube clip or a show they saw last night… there is always a new story surrounding the idea of pop culture. They all know certain lines from movies, have certain brand names such as Nike they are shown on commercials and advertisements to appear “cool”. You’re right, even as adults it surrounds our entire lives as well. So many of the conversations I have on a daily basis surround the idea of pop culture.

    I think that media exposure should be allowed in the school and should not be completely separated by home-life… to an extent. Of course, it needs to be age appropriate and apply to the topics that are trying to be portrayed correctly. For example, in our other literacy class we just taught a lesson in which the girls would write from the point of view of switching places / bodies with their mother. For a reference, we used clips from the movie “Freaky Friday” in order to introduce our topic and it really got the girls we were working with engaged and interested in the lesson.

    There is currently just a great emphasis placed on test scores and students outcomes that it’s important to stop and think about connecting what we are teaching to students in a way in which they will remember and understand the information. You can incorporate media into parts of your lesson so the standards are still being taught whilst also having a fun interesting twist. Last year, I often used flocabulary because my students were very interested in rap songs. They used “rap” to get across topics that would be interesting for the students like point of view, main idea and details, setting, character, plot, etc. My students absolutely LOVED when we played the song and would make me play it repeatedly, which in turn helped them to memorize the words and understand the information.

    I loved the idea of the Twitter ‘feed’ used to synthesize positive thoughts about the students’ day. That’s a great way to turn social media into a fun classroom activity while promoting positivity among the students.

    In terms of video games, films, and songs… as I’ve mentioned I have had students write about them and I have not had any negative experiences with it thus far. If anything it allowed them to expand upon something that was of interest to them and helped them to write more.

  13. First off, great post! Second, I love love the picture of the “Twitter: trending now” tool that teachers can use! I wonder if my preschool students can utilize this tool…
    Right now in my preschool classroom, we are practicing their songs for graduation. Most of the songs, actually 5 out of the 6 songs, are from Disney or Pixar movies, such as Frozen (their favorite movie), Toy Story, and Hercules (wow, remember that movie!?). The songs from the movies are some of their favorite songs that they selected for their graduation. And what was so great about the songs they chose were that they went along with a message of graduation and are appropriate for this special day. We use hand motions and will incorporate props during the graduation. Pop culture can be distracting in classrooms sometimes however there are many ways in which we as teachers can incorporate songs, videos, and images from pop culture, and can create positive and meaningful discussions in our classrooms!
    In one of my internships in college, students analyzed songs from pop culture (ex: Firework by Katy Perry) and the literary elements (simile). They also got the chance to rewrite the songs based on the topic they were learning about (can’t remember!) but they had to stick with the same rhythm of the song. What a great way to incorporate pop culture in the classroom!

  14. Such a fabulous and engaging post! I really liked that you were able to share all this information with us. I liked the use of of children writing their own Facebook statuses on sentence strips. This is so clever! I also like that their teacher created a place for them to tweet and share their ideas. It sort of gives children a sense of belonging in the classroom. Children like to engage and talk about the things that are familiar to them. In this age, everyone is immersed in this world of social media. It is everywhere! I don’t think that bringing pop culture into the classroom could affect students in a negative way. As long as they are learning, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Also, thought the youtube clip you shared was amazing. It was interesting to learning how literary devices are also evident in pop culture. Maybe using clips from movies, tv shows, and commercials that teach these literary devices would be beneficial. Maybe also have students do this in groups so they can talk about it. As teachers, we must find a way to shed light on the positives of bringing pop culture into the classroom. Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas with the class!

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