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Questions for Teacher Panel

In connecting our book to modern day teachers, we want to know how popular culture and media are incorporated into the daily schedule of k-12 education.

How do teachers today incorporate social media into their classroom environments, if they do at all?

Any projects with courses that incorporate current events?

Leniency with technology in classrooms? Are students able to use their technology as resources?

Is there a polling system like poll everywhere that is appropriate for k-12 education?


Group 5 – Rethinking (Modern) Popular Culture and Media

While we thinking Rethinking Popular Culture and Media provides great insight to the controversies that arise from contemporary popular culture and media, we believe that it is somewhat outdated. Throughout our discussions of the book, we noted that there was a lack of acknowledgement for more recent advancements in pop culture and media. For example, online classes have become a significant part of many students’ high school and college education. The emergence of online classrooms as a means of education was missing throughout the book, and we felt that it merited discussion. Likewise, iPhones and other smart phones have become hugely popular among all generations, especially today’s school-aged generation. We wanted to know how teachers could incorporate iPhones and smart phones into their curriculum, but there was barely any discussion of the effects of cell phones on a classroom setting in the book.

Social media has also become significantly more popular since Rethinking Popular Culture and Media was published. While there was some discussion about MySpace and its effects on the classroom environment, Facebook has since replaced MySpace. We read a couple articles that discussed ways Facebook could be incorporated into classrooms. Facebook groups and pages create excellent online class networking, and several teachers like to use Facebook pages as classroom discussion boards. Some teachers feel that these online discussion pages are an easy and practical way of monitoring student progress. However, many schools block Facebook from their network which prevents students from using this site at school.

Along the same line of online classes, a few teachers across the nation are experimenting with “robot teachers.” These teachers communicate with their students via a mobile robot with the capability of moving around the classroom. This method, although expensive, allows students to feel that the teacher is a part of the class. This can be especially useful in high schools when subjects are beginning to be more specialized. Robot teachers allow a teacher in one are to interact with students in another area, perhaps even in another state. While we certainly believe actual physical interaction is the most effective way of teaching, these robot teachers enhance the idea of an online classroom environment.

We want to continue our discussion of current topics in popular culture and media’s effect on the education system, so we will be searching for a related TedTalk video to discuss in our next meeting.

Group 5: Moving Forward and Researching the Next Topics

As we touched on in the last post and confirmed after finishing the book and recapping, the book left us wanting quite a bit more. Though we read many positive things about things like Hip Hop pedagogy, being more conscious about the way that history is told and remembered, and activities that can help examine the gender stereotypes that are enforced on our youth, we found ourselves yearning for more that felt relevant to today. Without looking at the year in which the book was published, it feels as if the book stops in maybe 2005-2008, just short of a great deal of stuff that we feel is relevant to our studies today.

With the goal of proposing additions to the book, we each chose topics that we were interested in, and agreed to do our own independent research on said topics. After doing the research, we will each report next week (tomorrow) and share our findings.

Leslie will be focusing on telepresence robots and their impact on classrooms. We’ve seen many instances of these telepresence robots changing the way students learn, particularly students that have disabilities or conditions that prevent them from being in class.

Martha-Scott will be focusing on social media. The book touched on social media a little, but the fact that the social media that was referenced was MySpace shows that the book is a little behind in terms of the revolution of social media. With the large presence that social media has taken on in our lives, we feel that examining the effects of things like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and the culture of smart phone social media.

Josh will be focusing on the advancement of assistive technology in classrooms. This isn’t limited to technologies only for individuals with disabilities as well, but also technologies that have made learning more accessible like SmartBoards and other forms of tech. We all noted that we prefer white boards and chalk boards, and we want to know if these technologies are actually useful beyond seeming to help.

Lastly, Coby will be focusing on the role that video games have played in the lives of students, as well as the role that Wikipedia has had. We are interested to see if the “violence in video games creates violence in real life” argument holds any weight. In addition to this, we also wondered if things like Wikipedia create shortcuts for students that make them less inclined to read full texts.

Stay tuned to see what we come up with tomorrow!

Our Book Is Outdated!!

Our book has an article about myspace… that alone tells you that it’s a little out of date. In this week’s post we’re critiquing the book and creating ideas of how we would structure the book, had it been written in the past year or two.

The text is extremely useful and provides a great outlook on how pop culture is a big impact on student’s lives, but it’s missing the crucial period from 2010 to current times. In this time Facebook has become a crucial aspect of everyday living, all over the world, iPhones and innovative technology, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and so on. Instant media is crucial.

As an example, Twitter is so vital for viral spreading of the latest breaking news, not just in the United States, but worldwide. An article discussing these types of instant media would be helpful and worth mentioning because of the big impact on our everyday lives. Even video games provide a platform for connecting students and the rise in popularity of Call of Duty, and it’s constant stay in the spotlight, has our generation attached to technology, waiting for midnight releases and so on.

The fast rise and fall of social media platforms is also something we would like to include. Myspace was the “hottest” thing during our time in middle school, but it was only in the spotlight for around three years before Facebook stole the show. Technology is always changing and social media websites and platforms come and go before we can even realize what it is. Prime examples include AOL and aim chat. These were the best and most convenient ways to communicate with our friends without hogging the landline phone, but now we’ve all got phones in our pockets and a lot of people don’t even have landlines!

These innovations have completely transformed the way we communicate with our peers and even with the world outside of our surroundings. They are changing so much so that our primary sources and documentation of our histories are “in the clouds” and can be recovered from somewhere deep within the internet.

The exclusion of these crucial innovations misses out on how current technology is impacting students and their relationships between teachers, administrators, friends, and even family members. In hopes of including the current times of technology and popular culture we are on the search for current articles and postings on the internet that describe how current-day technology and social media platforms affect students while in the classroom. We want to show how the technological revolution has transformed the classroom environment!

Part 4 – View and Analyze Representations of Teachers, Youth, and Schools in Popular Culture and Media

Group 5 – Popular Media and Culture


Facilitator: Martha-Scott Benson

Notetaker: Coby Isley

Media Source:Allegiance

May, Kate Torgovnick. (2014). What Pop Culture Can Teach Us About Japanese Internment Camps. TED Ideas.

This week our readings concerned how effects of gender, race, sexuality, competition, and film depictions of teachers and children (from different cultures) in schools reflect a range of fictional, sensationalized, and  relatively accurate characterizations. From educational institutions failing to address damaging homophobia and bullying of LGBTIQ students (Glee), a short-lived child-driven reality television show mirroring societal issues with capitalism (Kid Nation), to overgeneralized and thought-provoking movies like Freedom Riders, The First Year, School of Rock, Half Nelson, The Perfect Score, and Mad Hot Ballroom, critical analyses highlight ways in which popular culture and media perpetuate, uphold, and combat stereotype interactions among educators, youth, and school bureaucracies. Connections between these articles and social justice in education apply where education can serve to empower or marginalize groups, based on how/what they learn and internalize from peers, adults, school cultures, and society as a whole. Some takeaway messages our group found were that larger school/societal establishments and standards demonstrate levels of inflexibility and indifference which is harmful to children, especially historically underserved or disadvantaged persons. Through intrinsic qualities (e.g. creativity, perseverance) or with supports from motivational teacher, family, and peer networks, students were shown to develop resilience and ability to critique systems of power but these experiences, of course, vary considerably depending on a number of complex circumstances (SES, school/educator quality, available opportunity, etc.) and unfortunately, probably represent more of an exception than reality for a majority of communities with unequal access to excellent or adequate education services.

We selected the TED Ideas media source What Pop Culture Can Teach Us About Japanese Internment Camps to study because it involves another topic that is either “brushed over” or not often mentioned or comprehensively examined in traditional US media and history accounts. Facing discrimination, displacement, and enduring stigmas and legacy, much of what people learn about the history of US federal government-sanctioned internment policies and Japanese-Americans is derived from popular media and texts. The author, Kate T. May, provides a list of visual, literary, live-performance, and film portrayals, positive and negative, of Japanese-American citizens experience and conditions in US internment camps towards (and after) the end of WWII. These sources seek to give insights into the complex and deeply personal lives of groups who were persecuted due to their identity and ethnicity and explain how these sources can be interpreted, to separate facts, plausible evidence, and fantasy.

Questions to Pose:

What other applications and practices can exposition of media representations of teachers, youth, and schools serve? How do educators learn and assist diverse people to critique popular media and culture representations (like films) in order to derive meanings that are relevant and naturalistic to everyday life with problem-based learning?

How can we discuss and purvey social justice in technologically-literate world to students while being limited as teachers in using certain types of popular communication platforms (i.e. social media) and technology extensively in schools?

Mission Statement:

Our mission statement remained the same as we continue to progress through readings and synthesizing main concepts and themes of the chapter pieces.

Next Week’s Reading:

Part 5: Take Action for a Just Society

Part 3: Examine Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Histories in Popular Culture and Media

For last week’s readings, we opted to cover Part 3 of our book, with each of us reading certain essays and discussing what we read at our meeting. Here is what we discussed:

In Part 3, “Examine Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, and Social Histories in Popular Culture and Media,” we discussed that the way race, class, gender, sexuality, and other social histories are represented in popular culture and media greatly influence students and how they learn. Cartoons were a major topic of focus throughout the chapter, as many cartoons can be both racist and derogatory towards women. The stereotypical white, blonde hair, blue-eyed version of Disney princesses has proven to shape female self-perceptions.

Several educators fought to eliminate the role popular culture and media play on race, class, gender, sexuality, and social histories within the classroom. One particular essay, which we all really liked, focused on the integration of cultural music into a classroom setting. This particular educator was able to use the ancient drumbeats of African music and the instrumentation of Scottish music to show the evolution of bluegrass. Our PLC group thought this was an effective way to integrate African and European cultures, two very prominent ethnic backgrounds within the United States, to show that together they make something new and original.

This was only one of the myriad examples we observed during last week’s PLC meeting. The most important message we received from our readings was that race, gender, class, sexuality, and social histories are evident in popular culture and media, and they greatly influence classroom settings. However, there are several ways educators can present these topics to their students to address controversy and inequality in classroom settings.

Group 5: The Commercialization of America and the Whitewashing of History

For last week’s readings, we opted to cover Parts 1 and 2, with each of us reading specific chapters and collecting our thoughts as a group upon reconvening. Here are the conclusions we reached:

Part 1: Study the Relationships Among Corporations, Youth, and Schooling

In Part 1, we discovered that there’s a great deal of commercialism that kids are exposed to in society, and it is beginning to infiltrate schools. Schools are starting to make contracts with companies like Coca Cola to put machines in schools, and Nike worked with one school to put into place an internship that essentially geared students’ interests towards Nike products. We also found that this commercialism is having negative effects on students’ perceptions of themselves, extending into distorted ideals of female perceptions of themselves from teen magazines, adult music having a maturing effect on students, and Disney princesses giving false ideals of womanhood to young women. Kids ultimately have discovered that they aren’t seen as valued people: they are consumers, and businesses want their money, no matter where, when, or how they appeal to them. Fortunately, some teachers are combating this by using social networking as a tool instead of an advertising hindrance, as well as promoting goals like “no TV weeks” in schools.

In Part 2, we learned that history takes on a very different demeanor when being reiterated in American society. Sometimes, the ideal of making it interesting trumps actual accuracy, resulting in sensationalized stories that bury a lot of important facts, such as the story of Rosa Parks and Helen Keller. What stood out to us most however, is the prevalence of white and Western culture altering history to fit its narratives and ideals. Be it through celebrating Columbus for exploration, creating a holiday about giving thanks to peoples who were oppressed by white culture, making movies like Mulan who depict countries like China from a negative, Western perspective, reimagining Native Americans like Pocahontas as Barbie dolls, training Native Americans to act more white and American, or depicting Muslim women as constantly needing rescue from barbaric Eastern practices with the help of Western heroes, pop culture and media in America has aided in the whitewashing of history to fit a more Western oriented perspective, which is damaging to the history and perspectives of various cultures within and beyond America.