This page has been constructed to assist Humanities teachers gain ideas and resources to integrate and embed popular culture into the classroom. Motivating and engage students in their learning and providing timely feedback has been shown to provide enhanced outcomes for learning. Many of the resources listed below have an interactive or collaborative component that supports the findings of Melbourne Declaration for optimising 21st century student learning. Furthermore, they provide instant feedback through online results and postings in games and simulations. In addition, to free online and commercially available games and activities, I have also included a number of other resources that address elements of popular culture that can be used as learning tools or stimulus or that provide inspiration and ideas for methods of integration.
Image 1. “Social media in the Classroom: Why and How to use it” by John Benson
This post explains the benefits of social media and provides some very user friendly advice on how it can be used effectively.
Image 2. “8 Tips for Integrating Pop Culture In the Classroom” TeachThought Staff
This site provides a number of suggestions of how to use popular culture can be used as a motivational tool. Furthermore, it provides strategies for creating learning experiences that require students to think deeply and critically and to apply their understanding. Here are just a couple of suggestions:
- Use popular culture as a conversation starter. Use a recent film clip eg something from the news, You-Tube a music video etc that is of interest to the student or relevant to a topic being studied. The National Education Association provides suggestions on how this can be achieved. Similar ideas are also discussed on Tim Weedon’s site .
In addition the ABC’s Splash site has a number of short clips and images designed for years 5,6,7,9,10 classes such as this poster.
Or to see the clip on the birth of Australian teen skate culture
Use examples of popular culture as a model for studying educational materials.
Prepare students to study poetry by passing out popular song lyrics and asking them for feedback, discussing word meaning, tone, and composition or by looking at poetry as a creative representation of change in the landscape and society’s role in that change process such as “I love a sunburnt country ” By Dorothea Mackeller.
- Make ideas relatable and easy to understand. I particularly like Clay Morgan’s use of the movie Zombieland to explain WWII history – international relations, but put it in terms of zombie warfare, very cleaver!
Other movies that you might choose to use and incorporate into your teaching:
GEOGRAPHY: – These can be related to a number of units and across year levels
The Impossible: Harrowing movie about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which killed over 200,000 people
Slumdog Millionaire: Life in the slums of Mumbai
An Inconvenient Truth: Al Gore’s ground-breaking climate change movie.
Brassed Off – industrial decline in the UK
The Day After Tomorrow – climate change has never been this traumatic!
City of God – the daily lives of young people in the favelas of Rio
Twister – the formation and impact of a twister
There Will Be Blood – industrial growth of a more economically developed country
Dante’s Peak – shows most of the features of a volcano
Lawrence of Arabia – illustrates desert features
The Full Monty – industrial decline within the UK
HISTORY: I have provided some examples of the units to which these might apply.
The Last Emperor (Year 11 Modern History – China)
Gallipoli – (Year 9 History Unit – WWI)
Marie Antoinette (Year 9 Unit, Revolutions, Senior Modern History, French Revolution)
Australia – Baz Luhrman’s (Year 9 Unit, Making Australia)
Kokoda (Year 10 Unit, World War II)
The Sapphires (Year 10 Unit, Rights & Freedoms)
Rabbit Proof Fence (Year 10 Unit, Rights & Freedoms)
Bra Boys (Year 10 Unit, Popular Culture)
Pearl Harbour (Year 10 Unit, War in the Pacific)
Anna Karenina (Senior Modern History, Russia)
Last Samurai (Senior Modern History, Westernisation)
Lincoln (Senior Modern History, American Civil Rights & Slavery)
12 Years a Slave (Senior Modern History, American Civil Rights & Slavery)
- Encourage students to create their own media. I have used this idea personal and the students love it especially in History or English classes. This process enables students to investigate historical figures or personalities through the creation of a fictitious Facebook or Twitter accounts for them. In addition to this they also love creating and sharing videos involving historical or dramatic recreations with action figureson YouTube. They can use anything from Barbie and Ken to Leggo to create animations and short films based on their research.
Suggested websites to visit to create your own resources:
Toondoo – Create comic strips based around an historical event or significant person.
Fakebook – Create a profile for historical figures.
Edmodo – A great ‘safe’ social networking site for students to interact with each other and discuss texts.
- Video Games:
Video games provide great opportunities to promote learning and for students to reflect on concepts and explain what is happening. It is this later stage that is very important as often students need to have a facilitated discussion about the concepts and processes they were involved in playing or creating. When asked initially, answers often center on the game and the plot or task being carried out rather than the processes or connections to reality and these need to be teased out in debriefing sessions. A number of education games have worksheets and resources accompanying them to help teachers and students reflect on what they are learning by providing explanations and questions for them to answer. For example the Rabbits and Wolves simulation at Project Inter-activate, in which students explore how nature keeps balance, has a worksheet of guiding questions that students can answer as they use the simulation.
Rabbits and Wolves
With the Rabbits and Wolves simulation at Project Inter-activate, students explore how nature keeps balance by varying the number of rabbits and wolves that live in a defined space. It includes directions and activities for students as well as background information for teachers.
The Video games in a STEM Classroom site references several games and discusses their potential for enhancing student learning. In this blog, Cornally reveals some of the pitfalls and advantages of gaming in the STEM classroom. In particular, he discusses the benefits of games such as Portal 2 and Minecraft.
Image 3. “Video Games in the STEM Classroom” by Shawn Cornally (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/video-games-in-STEM-classroom-shawn-cornally)
Minecraft in particular develops a range of skills within players that can be applied across a range of learning areas. Furthermore, this is a game that is appropriate for students in terms of content and context.
I strongly recommend that you visit http://teachwithict.weebly.com/minecraft-lesson-ideas.html to read through and explore the 30 ideas for using Minecraft in the classroom
Other History related games that you might like to consider include:
A number of popular news sources also provide interactive activities and learning options for students to engage with social media such as the New York Times and National Geographic. These sites offer educators not only up to date links to recent publications they also cross reference material that can be used in a range of formats as well as resources and lesson plans and revision material as can be seen below on the NY Times Learning Network.
Image: Teaching and Learning With The New York Times: The Learning Network
One of my favourite sites to use in Geography is the Global Education site. They have some really great resources and I particularly like using the material that has been developed on hamburgers. This humble food is can be used in many ways to explore popular culture and cultural imperialism and the impact of changes in popular culture on people and economies around the world.