Prompt: Write a post about using popular culture in the classroom.
Some questions to jumpstart your thinking:
- What kind of popular culture do you bring into the classroom? How do you use it?
- Do you have any comic books or graphic novel favorites that you use for reading and textual analysis? Why do you choose those?
- What are your favorite television shows or movies in your classes? Why do you find these helpful tools?
- Do you have any favorite songs that you bring into your classroom? How have students responded to your music? Why do you bring in these pieces?
This December will mark 2 years since I left my elementary classroom to become a teacher on assignment in my district’s central office. There are several things I miss about working at a school site. Two of the biggest ones are collaborating with other educators and working with students. Sure, I collaborate with a few other educators now and I work with students through periodic workshops, but neither is the same as being at school site with my own class. I am an aspiring administrator and I find myself looking forward to getting back to a school site in that capacity so I can engage with other educators and students in the ways I miss most.
One of the things I enjoyed about having my own class was getting to know my students and learning what they found interesting and cool. I always prided myself on staying up to date on pop culture, but there was always room for my students to educate me and I always enjoyed those conversations. Our day was so driven by standards and pacing guides that at one point I resurrected the concept of “Show & Tell.” I just wanted us to have some time one day a week at the end of the day to share our passions. It was wildly popular and it seemed like we never had time to hear from everyone in the detail they craved. In hindsight, I would make more time for that in my own classroom. It seems like a lot of teachers are making more time for that in their classrooms so that learning is more personalized and engaging. Genius Hour comes to mind. I had only heard of this after I left my classroom and it is something I would totally do if I was in the classroom again.
Now back to the topic at hand: pop culture! I always enjoyed playing music in my classroom. I enjoy a variety of genres, but not all are appropriate for the classroom so I kept that in mind. I am a longtime Pandora subscriber (and I am sure my students would tell me Spotify is where it’s at if I was in the classroom right now) and have always enjoyed the ability to create stations based on a musical genre, a musical artist or a particular song. I was thrilled to find that Pandora has stations specifically for children, and my go to station had always been Kidz Bop. I enjoyed playing music for my students so that I could introduce them to other musical genres and I would often mix up the stations to match the month’s national theme when possible. Over the years some students would make requests and I would always joke with them about how I am not DJ Ruiz and it was Pandora so I could not specifically play any given song (although now I think you can with an upgrade in the subscription). My playing music in the classroom also got a lot of conversations going about my students’ musical preferences. There was a heavy preference for rap (which I found surprising for grades 3-5, but clearly I was out of touch), which I know is one of those genres not fit for the classroom in many instances, but the conversations about what they were listening to was always lively and a great way to get to know my students a bit better.
What ways do you bring pop culture into your classroom? Share with me in the comments below! 🙂
2 thoughts on “Popular Culture”
I agree with you about show and tell etc. When I first started teaching, this was a non-negotiable. Then it got pushed aside which is sad as the children always loved it! I also think Genius Hour is a fantastic idea!
I love the way you used music in your classroom. A lot of children would not get that kind of opportunity at home so what a rich experience for you.
Thanks for posting!
Thanks for reading and commenting Kathleen! Kids really need those opportunities to make school a community and you don’t do that by just blandly drilling standards all day long. I am all for making school feel less like school so learning can be fun, natural, and student driven.