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My thoughts:

Immortality.  I think we find vampires as something interesting because it invokes our want for eternal life.  Some people don't want to face the fact that they may one day, die.  This is a scary thought, no doubt about that.  Vampires don't die, unless stabbed in the heart with a stake.  This idea helps us escape from our reality.  It poses as therapy for us, and helps us cope with our daily lives.  Sometimes, it also fills in for our denial from the truth. This also leads to eternal youth.  Although it has only recently been that the vampires are young and good looking, it's the idea that they can be like that forever makes it all the more interesting.  

Excitement.  What is better than going to school, working, and socializing with our friends and family? I mean, our life?  Of course, something that is not the norm.  Our lives can be quite boring.  How do we spike new excitement?  We find interest in things that may or may not exist.  Knowing that vampires may exist, and having being chance that they may not exist, makes it okay to be interested in it.  The more suspense, the better.  

Our interests.  I don't think I know anyone who didn't grow up watching Disney movies.  What do most of them have in common? Love.  Recently, vampire movies have a lot of that.  The idea of living "happily ever after" really means a lot when we think about vampires.  Well, they are immortal.  Sometimes there are forbidden love as well, or complicated love stories, which only enriches our interest in the stories.  

Sex sells.  Vampires weren't always portrayed as human like, young, and good looking.  Back then, they were more ugly.  They slept in coffins and had really white/pale faces, and sometimes seen as old.  Now they're young, and beautiful.  They sleep in beds, and have feelings.  Why wouldn't it not be interesting?  Vampire movies portrays our fantasy worlds, basically.  And that portrayal works for many of us.  



So far in my lifetime, I have seen fashion change.  But I think how I saw change differed from how others saw change.  Part of the reason to this is probably my social groupings.   I can't say that bell-bottoms were popular for everyone, or all teenage girls, in the late 90s.  Yes, the late 90s, but it was for me and all my friends.  It was seen as our signature style in our school.  All the "popular" girls had the same clothing identity.  

Clothing is a big part in our identity.  It sometimes signify who we are, and the type of people we hang out with.  If we think about it, there is always some kind of code.  Being female, and having to keep updating my wardrobe is important.  I almost feel like I have to dress up for everything and every social place I decide to go.  

I think that clothing also helps with our sense of belonging.  I hate to admit it, but I believe its true.   There is different clothing codes for everything now and days.  At school, students all wear similar things.  For example, winter boots on top of leggings or skinny jeans.  I have yet to see those go out of fashion.   When I go out, I noticed the same type of clothing wore by young women and teenage girls (shirt dresses).  Sometimes I feel I must wear the same thing in order to "fit into" that kind of place.  

I think that teaching the revolution of fashion can be something interesting.  There are so many ways to have this done.  But the main goal is recognizing changes and its influences.  Being Hmong, I also noticed the change in our traditional Hmong clothing.  I almost feel as though the meaning of it has decreased throughout the years.  I think that is due to our assimilation into the American culture.  But again, it could be that there is a new meaning to our Hmong American culture.  Being that we are also Americans.  


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The Culture of Toys:

Toys are a luxury for children.  I seems the more they have, the better they are off.  Yet, it seems they never have enough and only want more.  I  don't have any children (not yet), and my childhood had too little emphasis on toys that I cannot count on it.  But looking at all the children around me, all my nieces and nephews, I think toys are just a luxury to them.  They have boxes full of toys, and rarely plays with them, but still expects to receive a bunch of it for their birthdays or Christmas.  They go to their friends and cousins and brag about what they have.  And what they don't have, they demand for it.  

Because of what technology has created,(PS3, PSP, Gameboys, GameCube, and  Xbox), hand held toys are less important today.  What all these toys have in common is the fact that they fill in the empty time children have away from school.  They fill in the family time space, when families cannot and do not have time to spend together.  As what I heard commented by one of my sister in laws, it keeps the children distracted so the children doesn't distract the parents.   

Okay, so we know how children feel about their toys.  What about their parents?   Why do they buy their children toys? Why do some parents spend so much money on just toys? I think the answer is, because they can afford to.  I can't say for luxury, because they don't enjoy the toys themselves.  But I believe they do enjoy bragging to other parents what they bought for their child(ren).  

Toys in Our Classrooms:

Thinking about toys and how we can use it in our classrooms, I think we sometimes forget that some children do not have much or any.  We think that using toys as a subject may increase our students' interest in our lessons, but we overlook those who do not relate to it.  

I don't want to say that using toys will not be effective because it will be for those who can connect with it.  But what about those you don't connect with it? Can we say we are being fair?  Will their lack of experience effect how they react or take from our lessons? 

The Food We Eat


    I grew up in a family where dining together was very important.  Although my family was very large, compared to the average size families here in America, we still found time to eat together.  I say this as if it still happens  We've all grown up and started our own families.   I don't know whether my siblings carried out the tradition, but I do try as much as possible.  Being a full time student and working, it is hard to sit down and dine with my fiance.  But whenever we can, we do.  
     I think food is very sacred.  It defines who we are culturally, and sometimes, even our personalities.  In this society, we over-look the importance of food.  We want to live conveniently, and try to work out our timing to fit with our jobs, education status, careers, play-time, and our families.  There is only so much time in one day.  So what we do is, we spend less time doing things ourselves, and buy the convenience with our money.  In other words, instead of cooking a meal, we buy a meal.   
    I think the idea of food and its meaning has been distorted over time.  We don't appreciate it for was it really is anymore.  We ask for alternatives to replace the more significant ingredients in the food.  We alter ingredients and change the image of food.  We no longer care for the sacredness of the food we eat.  

Pop. culture

Why pop culture should be included in my classroom.
Student perspective: 6th grade (female)

    My favorite thing to do is listening to music.  I think schools should include more things that I enjoy because it would make me more interested in school.  It also will motivate me to learn.  Also, being able to connect to what I learn is important because I can understand it better.  Even though I am at school a lot, the things I do at home does not always relate to what I learn in school.  It is important that I learn things that revolves around me in my life.  Traditional education is important, like learning how to read, science, and do math.  But I think if those things were more contemporary, and relates to what is happening today, I think it will be better for me as a student, and a person in the American society.  

Lesson Plan
Retrieved from

Written by: Dana Boxdorfer
Date written: November 20, 1996

Lesson: Controversies of the Vietnam War

Grade: Fifth Grade (also good for sixth graders)

Concept: Students will learn about how some of society felt toward the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Objectives: The students will listen to "Blowin In the Wind" by Bob Dylan and analyze what the song is saying about Vietnam.

Materials Needed:
"Blowin In the Wind" by Bob Dylan
Copy of the song "Blowin in the Wind"  lyrics

Preliminary Procedures:
The teacher will refresh the students' memories about what they have been talking about in the past two social studies classes, (the Vietnam War), by asking them if anyone can tell her/him the reason the U. S. got involved in the Vietnam War.

1) After the teacher refreshes the students' memories about the Vietnam War she/he will teach them about the domestic controversies that were going on due to the Vietnam War. Mainly the fact that some people loudly protested the War through songs.
2) After the discussion is over the teacher will play the song "Blowin in the Wind" by Bob Dylan and ask the students to listen closely to the song and see if they can analyze what he is singing about.
3) The teacher will pass out the sheet that has the words to the song on it and the class will discuss.

Evaluation: Evaluation occurs while the students are discussing the song, when the words are placed in front of them. The teacher may need to guide the students on some of the lines.

Follow - up: The next day the teacher can play another song, "For What it is Worth" by Buffalo Springfield or "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Musical Concepts: Music history. The teacher could discuss the different controversial songs written back in the sixties and seventies and what made them so controversial.

Minnesota state standards that are met by this lesson:

History I.O.2 Students will demonstrate knowledge of economic, social, and cultural developments in contemporary United States.

History IV.C.1  Students will understand that primary sources document first-hand accounts of historical events and secondary sources may be influenced by the author's interpretation of historical events.

History IV.C.3 Students will understand the concepts of historical context and multiple causation.


The Use of CPAs

            I think the use of CPAs was not a good technique to use for students in the secondary school age and younger.  I don't think they were mature enough to handle it.  At the same time, I don't think it can be a success.  Honestly, I have never had such an experience, but from the articles I already doubt it.

            One of the articles stated that participants didn't change their chat discourse even when the CPAs were presented as an authority figure.  Instead they saw the agent as a peer.  The desire of being able to alter the CPA in ways the student wants could also be controversial.  The reason for this can be that, students may  have less respect for the purposes of the agent and instead see it more like a game.  On the other hand student may want to interact more often with the agent because they were able to create it somehow.  These predicaments do need more experimenting, because we don't know exactly what the probability of each can be. 

In both articles, off task behavior occurred more often than on task behaviors.  This meant that the purposes of the CPA wasn't very successful.  I don't think computer robots can live up to the expectations of human beings.  This negates the use of CPAs has a helpful tool to assist students. 

With middle school students, I think the use of CPAs does not encourage students to do their work.  I think students of this age find the CPAs as more like a game.  This could be a reason to why so much inappropriate behaviors occurred.  Then again, I think the gender of the CPAs does matter.  The middle school students were given a female agent to work with.  Even though she wasn't presented visually in ways that could encourage inappropriate behaviors, it was the fact that she was female that students felt they can be inappropriate with her.  If the agent was male, I think there will be less inappropriate behaviors.  The reason to that is that the male gender is perceived to have more authority automatically.  The female gender would more likely have to establish some kind of authority in order to be seen in that way.  Also, as stated in one of the articles, CPAs were made in a way where they are in a position where they are inferior to students.  In the middle school article, this does not support the authority figure the female agent was given prior to her interactions with the middle school students. 




Gaming in the classrooms?  I have always thought that video games and school should not cross.  In this new age, I think children spend more time on game than ever before due to the new additions/creations.  My experiences with game playing didn't really start until my adolescent years.  I can say now that I do engage in a good amount of game time.  Regardless, I never tried to associate the two. 

            Reading the articles, I realized there is more to game play than what I initially thought.  I think there is a hidden agenda for learning, even though it was not always evident.  I recently observed this with my nephew, a second grader who spends more time playing Call of Duty (COD) more than doing his homework.  I realized his reading skills and writing skills improved dramatically.  He plays the game online with his PS3, which always associated with sending messages to invite friends to join him.  From an outsider's standpoint, I thought it was very helpful for him because even though he wasn't doing his homework (usually reading), he was doing it while playing his favorite game, although I feel the game is not appropriate for him. 

            How can we integrate game playing in school? Honestly, I don't know.  This understanding that game playing does teach students is still new to me.  I think with more research, teachers can manipulate their lessons to relate to the topic of games.  I think the real question, though, is how can we keep our students participating without boring them?  Can we associate their favorite games into our lessons?  This seems very controversial to me, because many games are in genres where it shouldn't be related to school (i.e. violence). 


            As a woman and a game player, I do believe that the gaming world has failed to create avatars that I can relate to.  I do agree with the idea that some people create their avatars according to how they want to be perceived (although I don't do this because the games that I play either has no avatar or the avatars are men).  I think that female avatars are portrayed to be something that most women cannot relate to.  In other words, there is too much emphasis on certain parts of the female identity that does not relate to the avatar characters in the games.  Due to this, it's harder for girls to be involve with the gaming.  I think this is why girls are stereotyped to be non-gamers.  My all-time question is: if girls aren't game players, and game players receive fun learning from playing games, then how do girls learn outside of schools, or are they not learning?

Response to articles-(mall experience)


Responses to:

Transforming Social Spaces: Female Identity and the Mall

The Full MOA-Living in the MOA




            The article Transforming Social Spaces: Female Identity and the Mall mentioned that the design of malls were carefully planned to create the consumer.  These are intentional planning that are thought of to target a certain group of the population, the middle class and women.  As a shopper, I did not realize this until I read the article.  Advertisements are put out to tell us what we want as the consumer.  These designs teach us how to be a consumer.  How do we know what we want?  The big poster hanging of the window of Charlotte Russe may tell women the "ideal" fashion they need.  As mentioned in the article, the advanced technology allows department stores to have televisions playing around.  The television playing a commercial on the new mop may tell women what they want as a new addition to their home.  We are surrounded by a design that allows us to continue to consume and want to consume.

            Matt Savders spent a week living in the Mall of America, and had a once in a lifetime experience.  By the end, he was counting seconds.  Why was his experience not so good?  I think this could be because he was not a woman.  Women are a big target of these corporations.  It could be because of their roles, being the "assumed" individual that does that kind of thing.  Had Matt been a woman, his experience would have been a lot better.  He would have spent more time on trying on clothing, and going through the different fragrance stores.  This goes back to the design of the mall.  Aside from the Mall of America, smaller malls in the cities do not have many stores made for men.  There is the occasional Mens' Footlocker and Mens' Express Store, but what else is really there. 

            According to my experience, I find going to the mall as something convenient.  I know I can go into many stores and find what I want.  My fiancĂ©, on the other hand, think it is a waste of time and money.  I've only been to the Mall of America a hand full of time, but still feel I have not gone through all the stores yet.  Why? Having that kind of experience takes a lot of foot ache and money. 

            Relating this to the educational experience, I think schools are institutions similar to these big corporations.  Although it was not an intention, I think we also teach our students how to be students, like how consumers are taught to be consumers.  How does a student know he/she would have to raise their hand before talking, or come home and do their homework?  In other words, we shape our students like how consumers are shaped. 

Response to 3 videos and 1 critique

Response to:

Leslie Gore- "It's My Party" video

Fiona Apple- "Criminal" video and critique

Lil' Kim- "How Many Licks" video


Portrayal of men and women: 


Leslie Gore:

According to this song, women of this time (1960s) were portrayed to be very passive.  Leslie's lyrics, "nobody knows where my Johnny has gone, Judy left the same time.  Why was he holding her hand when he's supposed to be mine" which leads to the chorus of crying during her party shows that although she was humiliated, she did nothing of it.  In addition, women were portrayed to be very needy, as her lyrics indicated, "leave me alone for a while, 'till Johnny's dancing with me, I've got no reason to smile".  Because of Johnny's behavior of being unfaithful, I thought this video portrayed men as having no respect for women.

            This video showed three levels (1) the performers, which were all females, (2) Leslie Gore singing, and (3) the audience which were also dancing.  In my opinion, the performers were all dancing in sync while Leslie was singing.  Being able to see that there were no men up with the performers, it showed that there was a very thick line between men and women.  Men were present in the audience, but only danced to their tunes, obviously there were women dancing with them as well.  However, this indicated nothing to the significant barrier between the two genders. 


Fiona Apple:

            Fiona's song seemed to put women in the negative thoughts.  First, the beginning of her song already stated, "I've been a bad bad girl".  Just from this first line, we can already assume what will be portrayed about women.  As many of the lyrics showed, women were also portrayed as helpless, careless, and in search of acceptance from the world.  From reading the critique of this video, I felt women were also portrayed as subordinate.  As the critique stated, women should be at fault if they were being abuse because it would be they who enticed men and made men abused them.  This meant that women had no powers.  In addition, women were supposed to be perfect, and if they were not they needed to be cleanse in order to be good enough.  Other parts of her lyrics: "suffer for my sins", "need a good defense", "need to be redeemed", "got to cleanse myself", "I'm begging you", and "need to make a play to make my love stay" all showed how low women are portrayed.  This goes back to the point that women should be perfect.  On the other hand, men were indicated to be perfect, and lack nothing.  Also, according to her lyrics, men were delicate.

            All the other characters in this video had no faces.  This could mean that the focus was only on Fiona, which made perfect sense because she was the singer.  The point was, the men in this video also had no faces, but had more roles than the women had in the video.  Fiona was also seen to be doing scenes that were more explicit with the men in the video.  Those scenes also indicated her subordination.  One example was her scene in the tub with the feet of a male on her face.  According to my understanding, putting a foot on someone's head, or the other around, showed that the person whose head was being touched by the foot had less power.  Fiona's character in the video seemed to be vulnerable.  This can be perceived as an indication that women are vulnerable and always in need of protection. 



Lil' Kim:


               Since I have talked a lot about women, I think men should be talked about first here.  The men, as portrayed in this video, were subordinate to women.  With the verse, highlighting the different men that she slept with, it showed that men were replaceable.  They should do things right or they are replaced.  A written piece on the screen but was not sung stated, "she doesn't satisfy you, satisfy her", showed that men should work for the women and not the other way around.  Women were portrayed to be independent and high class.  They also possessed a lot of power with their beauty.  This was something that should be irresistible to men. 

               The video production was explicit, but not as explicit as the lyrics itself.  One scene that helped me realized how subordinate men were portrayed was the scene where Lil' Kim was standing up, and a male character was sitting on the ground with his head between her legs.  Just from their position, it already showed that she had a lot of power over this person.  The indication of his head being between her legs also showed his subordination to her.  That position showed how demeaning he was compared to her.  This was also in Fiona Apple's video, but the situation was switched around.  Instead, Fiona was between the male character's legs, which showed her subordination to the male character.   


How have roles for women and men in regards to love and relationships changed?

            It was clear to see just from these three videos how the roles for women and men in regards to relationship have changed.  In the first video, which was released in 1963, women were portrayed to be passive.  This also meant that they did not speak against any wrong men did to them.  Men, on the other hand, can be unfaithful, yet are still wanted as companions.  This continued in the second video, which was released in 1997, but was less significant.  Fiona's video showed women's vulnerability and carelessness.  Yet it also portrayed how women needed men, and should try to be perfect for them.  The men, in this video, seemed to be portrayed as being perfect, and godly.  All these roles dramatically changed in the third video.  Lil' Kim portrayed women as high class and independent.  This video showed men as sex slaves, or in other words, subordinate to women.  Instead of women trying to keep the men, the men should be trying to keep the women. 

Response to chapters 1-3

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Mai Yer Xiong

CI 5150

September 13, 2009

Response to Ch. 1-3



            The advancement of technology has greatly affected how popular culture is portrayed today.  At the same time, it has given children different ways of getting exposed to it.  Popular culture, as we see it today or neglect to see it is an influence on children and how they become exposed to the reality, they live in.  In my opinion, some schools prefer their students to live in a fantasy world, where everything is perfect and we all live in harmony following the status quo. 

That is a lie, and something students will never understand unless they are exposed to it. 

            We have forgotten how the mind of children works, and only teach the children as if on a drill.  As Cameron White and Trenia Walker (2008) stated, schools has turned into prisons, only teaching students to be "appropriately acting citizens" (p 3).  School no longer holds the interest of the students, and this only means that we are doing something wrong.  Even as adults, we seek pleasure from the popular culture.  Children, on the other hand, not only seek but also are a targeted audience for popular culture.  It is important that we stay updated with our students.  This only means that we must try to teach our students what they are required to know while keeping their interests. 

            What may seem interesting for me while in primary school may be, and most likely is, different from students in the primary schools today.  Then, technology was not as advanced as what it is today.  Now, we have cable and internet where children have more choices to pick.  Of course, this just makes it even harder to keep their attention in the schools.  What we need to understand is that, these children spend only a fraction of their time in school.  Whatever they do out of school we cannot control. 

            This controversy of bringing popular culture into the classroom is understandable.  Popular culture is good and does portray different aspects and point of views.  However, censoring is also good.  As teachers, we must know what to use and what not to use.  Just bringing something in for pleasure only may not be the best way of doing it.  Bringing something in for pleasure and knowledge is the best way. 

            I think that popular culture is the best way to portray America's society as it is, and whom it involves.  This topic of multiculturalism is very important for all students to understand and be sensitive about.  I think it is good for teachers to try to integrate the differences, but it may not be the most useful.  Because everybody has bias whether they know or not.  I think that it is best to have that bias portrayed in the music or films being shown, than by a teacher. 

            My few experiences as a student listening to my culture being exposed to my classmates were not very fun.  I remember coming out of it very disappointed and embarrassed.  I felt my teacher was not up-to-date with the information.  Actually, she was not very correct.  I felt a lot of bias coming from her.  It was more as if she was making fun of my culture as compared to hers (which the majority of my classmates shared her ethnicity).  I believe this did not successfully help my fellow classmates to understand me at all.

            I do not remember my teachers bringing in popular culture into my classrooms.  Once in sixth grade, my teacher secretly showed my class the movie Hook, which I remember our principle denied her request.  It was fun movie day, but I did not learn much from it.  I believe we were not learning anything that associated with the movie.  My point is if we allow ourselves to integrate popular culture into our classrooms, there is assurance that our students will learn better.  They will be able to see the world from multiple perspectives.

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