If you were a child in the late 1970s, it's likely you will recall one or more of these superheroes. Or, if you are currently working with elementary school-aged children, it's likely they will be able to identify essentially the same set of characters, and maybe even their successors.
Three years ago, Donna was part of a research team (Alvermann, Moon, & Hagood, 1999) interested in exploring the uses that teachers and children make of popular culture in classroom settings.
We provide a description of four approaches to using popular culture in the classroom, attending to the tensions created when teachers try to develop students' critical awareness of the very things the children find most ...view middle of the document...
This section highlights some of our ideas for integrating students' everyday literacies and popular culture interests into language arts instruction across the curriculum.
The first and most important step for teachers to integrate students' popular culture interests into literacy teaching and learning is to learn about their own and children's experiences with popular culture. This knowledge can help teachers better appreciate the entertaining and pleasure-providing functions that various forms of popular culture serve. Such an understanding may also assist teachers in planning instruction that takes into account the importance of popular culture texts to children's everyday literacies.
Teachers can use a survey to learn more about their own experiences with popular culture and their assumptions about their students' popular culture interests. They can then give the same survey to students to find out if there is a match between their assumptions about students' popular culture interests and what students actually say.Teachers in the primary grades may want to conduct a class survey to tally the results for each item based on the students' oral responses. After conducting the surveys, teachers can share their own experiences with popular culture and also talk with students to learn more about their popular culture interests. Students often appreciate that teachers show some interest in what students care about. Tables 1 and 2 are examples of teachers' and students' surveys. As noted in the sample surveys, large differences exist between teachers and students in terms of their popular culture interests.
Culturally responsive teaching calls for home-school connections in literacy instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students (Au, 1998). One way for teachers to make such connections is to make students' popular culture texts part of the children's school literacy experiences. Teachers who choose wisely from among these texts can use them to validate their students' diverse cultural and linguistic experiences both in and out of school.
The teacher may use this show, if it is part of students' popular culture interests, to help students learn or revisit Spanish words.
Music is another form of popular culture that can be used in classrooms to enhance student learning.
Throughout the unit, Sherry witnessed her students practicing many reading and language arts skills. Most important, she noted that there was "a closer relationship between the students and me, because the unit showed that I cared and valued their interests and cultures."
Because popular culture texts are part of students' everyday literacies, they hold powerful and personal meanings for students. This is illustrated in the experience of Ashley, a first-grade teacher in a school with children from middle-class backgrounds. The teacher conducted reading and writing workshop daily, and her students were immersed in children's books on various topics of interest and...