This week, we were asked to read Sarma's (2015) article that talked about collages, laughter, and world politics. The internet has made information sharing almost instant (Sarma, 2015). In today’s world, we are bombarded with horrifying and often depressing news stories that involve world politics. Looking at a collage or meme online can sometimes bring comic relief when tensions are high. While these visuals can bring about laughter, we as consumers of media need to recognize that they cannot be our sole information source. “Because humour and laughter play a role in the circulation process (what is shared, how much, how fast), parodies can sometimes remain our sole connection to an event or issue” (Sarma, 2015). The author offers collages as a popular culture artefact that can help people think deeper about important global political issues (Sarma, 2015).
Collages can be made with memes and parodies of events used in conduction with each other (Sarma, 2015). They are excellent discussion starters that could be used with students. “collaging can be used, for example, in IR classrooms to engage students in something creative in order for them to see things differently” (Sarma, 2015). This could be particularly useful when teaching current events to students. For example, the recent election in the US has brought about much media coverage, memes, and parodies. By showing a collage to the class and posing an open ended question, students can begin to discuss the significance and relevance of the event. I think that collages need to be accompanied with purposeful questions posed by the teacher. These questions should not lead the students to forming a specific opinion but rather, encourage them to think in different way about the subject matter.
Saara Särmä. “Collage: An Art-inspired Methodology for Studying Laughter in World Politics.” Caso and Hamilton, Eds. pp. 110-119. Retrieved from http://www.e-ir.info/2015/06/06/collage-an-art-inspired-methodology-for-studying-laughter-in-world-politics/
This week’s article discusses the educational benefits of video games (Squire, 2008). As Squire (2008) notes, “to date, concerns about the ‘bad effects’ of games have perhaps caused educators to miss the real message behind the medium” (p. 119). I think that this quote describes me to some extent as I was a bit weary about the how video games can be utilized in the classroom. However, after reading the article, I have a better understanding of how video games can support learning and have begun to think of ways I could incorporate them into my practice. I like the idea that online games provide “affinity spaces” for which students can explore and develop into experts (Squire, 2008, p. 113). This could be used during a social studies unit to have students explore early civilization through Minecraft, for example. Video games could also be utilized to encourage class discussions and peer collaboration. This medium is highly social in nature and promotes a participatory culture within the classroom (Squire, 2008). It provides students with a meaningful experience. Experiential learning can be especially useful when teaching ESL students. For example, it can be used as an opportunity to teach students about key vocabulary. I can see how using video games with ESL students can provide an opportunity to develop their language skills in an engaging way.
While I am seeing more ways to integrate video games into my teaching practice, I still believe that students would benefit from realizing possible negative consequences of over using them. For example, teachers should talk about addiction and the possible impact on one’s health. Students should be exposed to a complete picture of video games where they can reap the benefits but also understand the potential harm. Gaming is an example of a teaching strategy that ought to be used in conjunction with other useful tools in order to provide students with an optimal learning environment.
Squire, K. (2008). Chapter seven: critical education in an interactive age. Counterpoints, 338, 105-123. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.uproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/stable/42979224
When pre-service teachers are being trained, they need to understand the golden rule and how to model, teach, and enact this rule with their future students. Treating others the way you want to be treated must be considered as a necessary instructional component to a teacher’s duty as it contributes to a positive safe climate that can combat bullying (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 6). This week’s reading on homophobic bullying emphasizes the need for this. Regardless of your own personal opinions, all people have the right to exist and should not be marginalized because others don’t agree with their identity. The article notes that “… students reported that teachers were much more likely to intervene when they heard racist or sexist comments than when they heard homophobic comments (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 5).” Bullying in schools is a major concern and teachers are at the front lines of defense against this movement. The media can be integrated to teach students about stereotypes, bias, and the negative consequences on others. For example, video clips from popular TV shows can be utilized in the classroom to examine how marginalized groups like GLBTQI are treated (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 10). Students can engage in discussions with peers around bullying using popular culture. Their teachers can also capitalize on this by stressing the importance of social justice and treating everyone with respect and dignity. In order for educators to be prepared to handle bullying, they need adequate training in teacher’s college on how to address such matters so that they can influence their students in a positive way. “Culturally relevant pedagogy can be utilized as a conduit for preservice teachers so that they can relate to, and make connections with diverse kinds of families, including families with parents or guardians that identify as GLBTQI” (Happel-Parkins & Esposito, 2015, p. 7). Increasing understanding of each other is a much-needed trait of today’s global citizens – which is what students should be trained to eventually become.
Reflecting on my own classroom experience, bullying can bring up difficult conversations with students. In these conversations, I have tried to highlight the commonalities that exist between human beings. At times, it has been challenging when young students bring up their own cultural or religious beliefs, which may form their opinions around GLBTQI individuals. In hindsight, I think that the use of video clips or examples from popular culture could have supported the class discussions. Utilizing such popular culture examples would have helped my students dig deeper into the issue and realise how bullying can impact the victim. This could support the notion of the golden rule, which highlights how every person, regardless of their identity, has a right to be treated with respect.
Happel-Parkins, A. & Esposito, J. (2015) “Using popular culture texts in the classroom to interrogate issues of gender transgression related bullying,” Educational Studies 51(1), pp. 3-16.
The majority of my classroom years have been spent in grade 3. The curriculum did not change a whole lot during this time. However, I found that none of my lessons were taught exactly the same way twice. In light of this week’s documentary, Everything is a Remix (Ferguson, 2011), I have begun to think of the ways in which teachers act as remixing agents themselves.
In order to teach a group of students effectively, a teacher needs to adapt their instruction based on the strengths and needs of their class. “Creativity isn’t magic. It happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials” (Ferguson, 2011). Each lesson is a remix of previous or other lessons. Granted that copying certain elements does play a role, a teacher is able to transform existing lesson ideas and adjust according to their students (Ferguson, 2011). Accommodations and modifications are key examples of when teachers remix and create lesson plans. For specific groups of students, like special education and English language learners, differentiated instruction enables them to successfully increase their knowledge. For a teacher, it means that they have to be constantly transforming their instruction so that they are able to meet the needs in their classroom.
While this can be a daunting task, “two heads are better than one” and educators can utilize each other in this creative process. By working together, educators are able to share ideas and recreate lessons plans that are engaging, relevant to student prior knowledge, and incorporate the interests in the classroom. Through teamwork, unique ideas and strategies can be shared. This allows educators to transform lesson plans into authentic learning opportunities based on their collective creativity. Furthermore, two teachers may plan a lesson but their execution of the material will vary since they work with two different classes. Therefore, remixing is a necessary part of teaching today’s students. Teaching is not a static process, rather, an ongoing methodology of being creative every single day.
Ferguson, K. (Director). (2011). Everything is a Remix [Motion Picture]. Retrieved: https://vimeo.com/25380454 .
In all the classes that I have taught, reluctant writers have been among the student population. Despite their negative feelings towards written tasks, they still need to learn how to compose text. How can teachers get these students to engage in writing? Fields, Magnifico, Lammers, and Curwood (2014) suggest that the use of social networking sites can create a sense of community and allow all students to refine their ability to write (p. 19). This could be a way in which reluctant writers could become more engaged with tasks. For example, Figment is an online site that allows users to share their creative writing through forums (Fields et al., 2014). Writers are directly involved in the design process and they are able to interact with others to get feedback and suggestions. “Figment and Scratch encourage youth in the direction of creative media production by connecting them to others interested in reading, writing, programming, and designing.” (Fields et al., 2014, pp. 22-23). It may be beneficial for classroom teachers to look into such creative DIY communities to see what features could be integrated into their literacy lessons. These sites allow students to be collaboration and interacting with peers in a way that may encourage them to write (Fields et al., p. 23). For my reluctant writers, I think that making writing more social would allow them to feel less isolated and see the usefulness of what they are writing. Furthermore, if students are involved in similar online forums, they are contributing their creativity and opinions towards a project that they can relate to. This makes their compositions more meaningful and significant to them. It also allows me, as a teacher, to take a step back and empower the student to develop their creative thinking skills through a process that they control.
Fields, D. A., Magnifico, A. M., Lammers, J. C., & Curwood, J. S. (2014). DIY media creation. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(1), 19-24. doi:10.1002/jaal.331
The way hip-hop performers like Lil B and Kanye West present themselves can be intriguing. Often times, they are more engaging than other figures in the media (like politicians). What does this mean to teachers and the students they teach? Regardless of whether or not you like this genre, it is everywhere. Its presence and impact can be utilized during instruction. I think hip-hop offers a way to spark students’ passions. Passion allows students to investigate issues and look for solutions to advocate for change. “I also believe that something real is happening when Kanye West, in the process of saying essentially nothing, brings himself to tears and a crowd to its feet” (Marantz, 2015). This power, to inflict emotional reactions among the masses, is something that can’t be ignored. “Rap concerts, political rallies, acceptance speeches at awards shows—all are opportunities to deliver rhetoric with such incantatory power as to generate a response from the audience” (Marantz, 2015). The artists and themes in hip-hop songs give students a springboard to being to start thinking about how things impact society the significance to their own lives. For example, one can examine the power struggles in American and the gaps between those in power and those who are marginalized (Marantz, 2015). The interest in hip-hop can give teachers an entry point to begin to discuss important social justice issues. I think using it within the classroom setting enables students to become actively engaged in topics that may be boring but extremely important (Maratnz, 2015).
Marantz, A. (2015). “Kanye West For President”, The New Yorker. Retrieved:
I must admit that I am not a Star Trek fan. My Grade ¾ students, however, may well be and this is a factor that needs to be considered in lesson planning. The grade three students learn about how the Europeans came to settle in North America. They learn about the impact this had on the first nations people as well as the racism they had to face. In this instance, they are reiterated as being “others”. “In Star Trek, species becomes a signifier for race (in much the same manner as the power of whiteness and the ethoracial pentagram obscures and confuses ethnicity, race, and social class)” (Anijar, 2000, p. 154) Students could use class discussions to draw comparisons between Canadian history and the social relations in Star Trek. By doing so, they are able to make connections and hopefully understand the significance of the treatment of the first nations people. In addition, Star Trek can provide an interesting opportunity for the examination of social class structures that exist within society (Anijar, 2000, p. 152). This can support the teaching of the feudal system in medieval Japan for the grade fours. Since I am not that familiar with the Star Trek empire, I think that my best approach would have to be to empower the students as experts. Let them teach me about Star Trek. By doing this, I would be able to learn more about my students. I could then take their knowledge of the show and implement it into my teaching.
Anijar, K. (2000). Resistence is Futile: You will be Assimilated into the Predatory Jungle. In K. Anijar, Teaching toward the 24th Century: Star Trek as Social Curriculum (pp. 156-190). New York: Falmer Press.
I have to be honest – I am not much of a science fiction, fantasy or horror fan. However, while I may not be an expert in such genres, my students maybe and this needs to be taken into consideration.
This week’s readings included a documentary by the Discovery Channel (2012) that discussed the Zombie Apocalypse. I was fascinated with the preparation that was underway and how seriously committed the people in the video were to their cause. I was left wondering how this could be applicable to the classroom. Upon further research using the Internet, I came across a fascinating site about Zombie-based learning (Hunter, 2016) to teach middle school geography. I have come to the conclusion that ZBL is another way of engaging students with the curriculum. It factors in their interest in pop culture and uses it to help them understand issues around geography and history. Furthermore, this strategy highlights the need for educators to be open-minded in their planning. If we want our teaching to focus on the student, then we need to be able to let go of control and set out of our comfort zone. For me, this may mean using topics like the Zombie apocalypse, which I am not that familiar with. That’s not to say that experts exist among the students I teach, who may have their interests peaked with ZBL is used in-class. If I want my lessons to be meaningful to my students, I need to implement ideas that involve their interests and understanding of popular culture. Zombie-based learning, here I come!
Hunter, D. (2016). Zombie-Based Learning. Retrieved: http://zombiebased.com.
The Discovery Channel. (2012). Zombie apocalypse. Retrieved:https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=75&v=YdAe18Xvs4Q.
Imperialism is a reoccurring theme in history and the study of international relations. It is important for students to study this phenomenon of past events so that they can better understand the current state of the world we live in. Yet, I have noticed that there seems to be a disconnect between the student and the study of history. This has been my experience both as a teacher and as a student of the topic. How can this be changed so that students can engage in more meaningful ways?
The integration of science fiction in the classroom can help students connect to topics like imperialism and politics. As Saunders (2015) notes, many students have knowledge in this area of pop culture and it is this “intellectual shorthand that accelerates learning, facilitated critical analysis, and enables thoughtful discussion and debate” (p. 150). The establishment of European dominance over the First Nations people of North America is an imperialist example that is often discussed in social studies classes. When I have taught this topic, students will wonder what relevance past events have to their lives. A way to show them the correlation could be via science fiction. By comparing and contrasting to science fiction examples, student will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the significance of such movements. For example, Avatar is a movie that has many similarities to the imperialism of North America (Saunders, 2015, p. 155). The reason for this is because the movie looked at how one group of people desired to take over land and not really care about he native inhabitants or how they would impact them. Such movies are a part of our popular culture and can help to make connections to actual historical events. Using such examples further supports increased engagement on the part of the student. Science fiction essentially offers teachers a way to help their students make personal connections and understand the significance of imperialism.
Saunders, R. A. (2015). Imperial imageries: employing science fiction to talk about geopolitics. In F. Caso, & C. Hamilton (Eds.), Popular Culture and World Politics: Theories, Methods, Pedagogies (pp. 149-159). Bristol, U.K.: E-International Relations Publishing.
A week ago, I bought my first new car. The whole experience resonated with me as I read Funes (2008). What advertising initially drove me to purchase this vehicle?
As Funes (2008) notes, "consumer goods provide us with quality of life, security, personality, and independence" (p. 161). These characteristics are presented in the car ads, brochures, and posters that I had seen prior to purchasing the car. The car dealership and manufacturer seek to make the most profit out of my deal. Fuenes (2008) refers to this as control and manipulation (p. 161). This made me think about how much of a consumer’s decision making is influenced by large corporations who are seeking to take financial advantage.
In the classroom, such an experience can offer valuable insights to students. For one, presenting them with a car buy situation allows them to view ads and determine what features they find appealing. Furthermore, a study of advertising methods and teaching students to be critical of messaging can help them become more aware of the ideas that are being presented to them. In my own grade four class, I would invite students to bring in magazine or flyer advertisements related to products they wanted. Then together, we would analyze and evaluate what the company was doing to try and get people to buy their products. Such learning opportunities allow students to develop the skills they may need in order to help them with their own large purchase – like a car.
Funes, V. S. (2008). Advertising and Consumerism: A Space for Pedagogical Practice. In D. Silberman-
Keller, Mirror Images (pp. 159-177). Peter Lang AG.