Using Pop Culture in the Classroom
Before taking this class I had not fully considered how popular culture could be used to help students make connections and enhance teaching and learning. As a methods instructor I know that it is important for me to model appropriate techniques within my teaching. If my students, future teachers, get an opportunity to experience first hand using pop culture they will be more likely to embrace popular culture as a tool to use within their classrooms as well. Therefore I have made the following modifications to my course to:
Using video clips: Video clips interspersed within lecture, whole group discussion as well as small group discussion can help get direct discussions to the heart of the issue as well as help to make connections to valuable concepts. For example, my students are required to maintain a journal during my course. Below is the assignment description from my syllabus:
Reflective Journaling (15 pts) Due: Reflective Journal is due each Monday
Reflective practice is situated at the â€śheartâ€? of teaching. Keeping a reflective journal will provide you with the opportunity to first develop your capacity to observe skillfully and to think critically about students and their learning so you can begin to consider what this tells you about teaching, the subject matter, and the context in which all of these interact. It is also an invitation to begin to take intelligent action based on the understanding that emerges. In addition it can be a personal tool for exploring your identity as a teacher, what you are learning about yourself as a teacher from your field experiences, and/or issues you are struggling with as you progress through the semester.
In this journal you will reflect on your learning, philosophies on teaching, learning and discussion. You will be responsible for maintaining your journal. Ten minutes each class period will be provided for reflective journaling; however, more time outside of class may be needed. Journals will be collected each Monday from the instructor and returned the following class period. Journal topics may be assigned by the instructor. You will receive more information about this journal in future weeks.
During the first weeks of the semester we spend time exploring teacher identity. As we are discussing teacher identity I will be introducing video clips from the following films: School of Rock; Mr. Hollandâ€™s Opus; Dead Poets Society and Dangerous Minds. After viewing the selected clips I will ask the students to get into small groups to discuss the following questions: How does media portray teachers? How has media impacted your vision of a teacher? Is the media portrayal accurate? After our small/large group discussion students will be invited to respond in their journal to the following prompts:
Day 1. How do you see yourself as a teacher? What do you want to change in your teaching? How might you go about this change? What role can your peers/colleagues play in helping you become the teacher you aspire to be?
2. Draw or make a make a self-portrait of how you see yourself as a teacher. This activity does not require any artistic training in portrait making.
3. After you complete your self-portrait, step back and examine it carefully.
Then, reflect and write about your portrait. Include your thoughts and reactions to what you have drawn. Ask questions that come to mind as you critically examine your portrait. Here are some ideas:
a. How does this self-portrait relate to your learning and teaching experiences?
b. Does the self-portrait showcase any particular learning or teaching dilemma?
c. Is this portrait related to any recent interaction in your teaching?
d. What does it portray about your perception of your identity and gender as a teacher? Notice your clothes, props, physical features, expression, etc.
e. Do you notice any stereotypes about teachers that you portrayed? Interpret any popular notions of teachers you portrayed?
f. What would you title this portrait?
4. Envision the teacher you hope to become. Try to capture what you feel are the most important critical traits of an effective language arts teacher. Create a web or visual that depicts your vision of the characteristics of an effective teacher. Reflect on where you are at in relation to becoming the teacher you aspire to be.
5. Go back and read what you have written in your journal thus far. What patterns or themes did you notice? Whatâ€™s one thing youâ€™d like to elaborate on? What did you discover about yourself that you didnâ€™t realize before? If an outside reader were to read your journal, what question(s) might that reader still have? What do you think is one thing a reader is most apt to take away from your journal?
I also plan to use song lyrics and news clippings to further explore teacher identities throughout the five week teacher identity exploration. In the past, I have always given my students the opportunity to journal in the traditional pen and paper mode or to post their journaling on a secured site. However, I am seriously considering having my students create their own blog. I can see how blogs could be used as a great tool in the elementary classroom. That being said, I know that because I had never created a blog or visited a blog I didnâ€™t use that as a tool. To be perfectly honest I was afraid of the unknown. I know that many of my students have visited blogs and may already have one; however, I think by forcing the issue and talking of ways that they can be incorporated into the classroom, students would feel more comfortable with the possibility.
I have always used music within my teaching. In fact, my first five years as an elementary teacher I lost my voice on numerous occasions through out the year; I sang to my students each and everyday (remember I was a kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade teacher it was welcomed by the little ones). I discovered that I was losing my voice because I was not using it properly. I started singing lessons so that I could learn to sing using the correct muscles. I continue to sing to my current students as well as incorporate music as within the lessons. However, what I will change is using more current up to date styles.
There is so much that you can do within your classroom and I look forward to exploring more ways to include music and pop culture into my teaching.