Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pop Culture Connections Are Easy to Make, But They Don't Last Forever

A few years ago I shared a lesson I created on probability based around the TV game show "Deal or No Deal."  I'm humbled that to this day, teachers seek out, use the lesson and comment on the post about what a great idea it was.  I do think it was one of my better ideas, but it's also one that needs to die: the show was cancelled over a year ago.  It's no longer relevant to your students, or anyone else.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to look for opportunities to use bits of pop culture and mass media to make connections or simply liven up what's going on in class.  A funny writing prompt about "Jersey Shore" is great now, but in two years, there should be no trace of Snooki in your lesson (just like there will be no trace of her in the media any more).  Similarly, a review game based on "Survivor" no longer has a place in any classroom; that show is a distant memory in the public consciousness, and has been for some time.

If you were going to have students create a social media profile for the characters in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream," which platform would you use: Friendster, MySpace, or Facebook?* 

Still, there are some enduring pieces of pop culture that you can safely use over the long haul.  The Super Bowl, the Oscars and March Madness come to mind immeadiately.  However, you should still be tweaking and improving your lesson that uses them every year--just as you should do with everything else in your repetoire.

Wondering how to get up on the latest item of fascination amongst your students?  Ask them. Listen to them.  There's no better source, offline or online, that will give you better intel.

*Correct answer: Twitter.