Join Us In July

KellyAnn will be presenting with ADE Title IV-A Arts Education Specialist, Haley Honeman. The topic is STEAM Integration- Webbing for Cross Curricular Integration.

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Time for a Reboot

Well my friends, its been forever since I made a post so I figured it was time for a reboot. For those of you who have been with us for a while…

“Hey, how are ya! Long time no see!”

For those of you who might have recently stumbled across our blog…

“Hey, how are ya! Nice to meet ya!”

Pop Goes the Classroom is an innovative support for educators mostly serving intermediate grade school, middle and high school students. That’s not to say ideas can’t be used with younger kids, after all I’m an early childhood specialist currently teaching 1st grade, its just that its more difficult to find pop culture that can be used that doesn’t distract the littles from the learning goals.

Our philosophy is simple.

“If the arts are the voice of a generation, pop culture is the dialect of its youth.”

If we can learn to speak this dialect, we can build meaningful relationship with the kids we serve. Meaningful relationships will intern result in higher student engagement and more meaningful learning.

So what is pop culture? Well there is quite a bit of disagreement over the definition. I can say this. Pop culture is usually arts based. Pop culture is movies, music, television, comic books, video games, table games, etc. All of these activities have one or more art forms in play.

For this reason, here at Pop Goes the Classroom, we see our work primarily in the role of STEAM integration.

So check out some of the old postings, or just read the new ones. There are lots of ideas to be had.



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We All Need to Advocate

Today was the annual Arts Congress at the Arizona State Capitol #artscongress. Over 300 arts advocates gathered to communicate the importance of the arts and arts funding.

KellyAnn attended on our behalf. She met with the senator for her home district. This is a very important aspect of the advocacy process. Every Senator will take information but they will really listen if the person talking can vote for them.

We had two students, two education professionals, an artist and two agency representatives in our meeting with Senator Carter. It was a great meeting.

Make your voice heard! Become an advocate.

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Art Makes Me Happy and a Better Teaching Artist

Today I had the opportunity to showcase some of my fiber art at the Nontraditional Art Expo at the Chandler Public Library. My mission today was to spread the word that making art makes you happy, whether you are good at it or not. Here’s the research to prove it.

I’m pretty honest with myself. I’m not going to be the next great fine artist. I’m not trying to be. What I am trying to do is live a fuller, happier life. This is important to me as a human, as a wife, as a mother and as a teacher. And wouldn’t you know it – art is a part of the answer.

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Title IV-A? Never Heard of It.

Most everyone in education these days knows about ESSA. For those not in the loop, ESSA is the Every Student Succeeds Act which is passed in 2015. It was a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the 50 year old Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It said goodbye to No Child Left Behind and opened the door for well rounded education in public schools.

Title I of this act provides formula grants to assist schools with certain percentages of low income children.

Title II of this act provides funds for teacher and principal training.

Title III focuses on institutions of higher learning.

And Title IV was all about 21st Century Schools, right? Those after school programs. Howeer Title IV is so much more. Under Title IV-A flexible funding is available to Title I schools to address Well Rounded Education/Safe and Healthy Schools/Effective Use of Technology. Projects that couldn’t be covered by Title I may very well be funded with this pool of money. You should check it out.

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Welcome to our new staff

We are pleased to announce a new addition to our team. Welcome to Shelbie Cline. She replaces Geri Crouse who has moved on to new exciting experiences. Shelbie is a calligraphy artist and gentle craftswoman with many gifts to share.

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Hot STEAMy Summer Camp

We are just finishing up our third and final camp for the Summer 2017 season. It’s been a summer of fun and discovery. There were so many times when STEM and Arts/Humanities were so interwoven you couldn’t distinguish one from the other – as it should be. This meant that we needed to highlight the STEM learning in the arts experiences in a way that fostered scientific thinking. I want to revisit some of those experiences with you here today.

Our first camp this season was Summer at Hogwarts. On the first day the youth constructed their student wizard hats. This was an excellent opportunity to introduce them to terms like circumference, diameter, radius, and pi. Those who were interested in the Breannchallenge were given the formula for circumference to see if they could determine the diameter of their circles. They then used this information to create their student hats.

To the left is a picture of a proud candidate who created her student wizard hat and wand.

Wands were an opportunity to introduce chemistry. Hot glue gave us an opportunity to have a discussion about adhesives and the polymers used to create hot-melt adhesives. The adhesive discussion would come up multiple times throughout the camp with the hot clue being a reference point.

The highlight of any Hogwarts/Harry Potter camp is the potions demonstration. A seasoned actor can make the science demonstration magical allowing children to suspend their disbelief as they make divination balls and see frozen dementors’ breath scream. We could simply allow the performance art experience to stand on its own but where would the STEM be in that. Instead, after the performance, before the hands on experience we challenged the kids to use their scientific thinking. What might this be in the muggle world? Then come the educated guesses. Then the discussion about dry ice being frozen CO2, states of matter, etc. We didn’t detract from the arts experience, we simply discussed the science with intentionality during the the debrief.

Our next camp was Super Hero Invention Camp where we used the gadgeteers of the super hero world to discuss engineering habits of the mind. We highlighted how characters like Tony Stark were engineers who used their skills to create their super hero personas. We looked at how Tony’s character identified his problem – Tony had shrapnel in his chest and needed an electromagnet to keep it from getting to his heart. His current electromagnet was being powered by a car battery. If Tony was going to escape his captors he needed something that could help him that woulironmandn’t be so heavy. Tony used his resourcefulness to find a solution-he made a mini arch reactor based on his knowledge of building a large one back home eliminating the need for the car battery. After reflecting on his new invention he realized the battery could power other things –Tony adapted the battery to power a super suit to help him escape. The kids were focused on the art and story of Ironman, however with intentionality we were able to introduce them to concepts identifying a problem, using creativity and ingenuity to come up with a solution, to reflect on the solution and adapt it to other purposes.

Our final camp of the season was Under the Sea. Port Hole step 1Porthole Student

Here you see a port hole project that incorporated the scientific knowledge they had learned over the course of the camp to create an acrylic and tempera paint art depiction of a coral reef. The children mixed colors, explored pigment, and used bamboo skewers to create the final result.

STEAM is everywhere you simply have to highlight it.



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Movie Review from the Teaching Perspective: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman opens in theatres this week. While the film is PG-13 and you probably won’t be able to use it as a summer field trip, it is a film your kids will be watching and one you definitely need to see. Why? As League of Extraordinary Academics member, Jon Bonnell, put it, “Wonder Woman has single-handedly saved the DC Cinematic Universe.”

The story is well written, the pacing is good, and the characters have great arcs. This film is an origin story framed as a flashback. We see Diana Prince in present day and we see her childhood on Themyscira. It has some elements of a coming of age film as Diana’s wide eyed optimism for her duty is crushed against the reality of war.

From a classroom perspective, this film does for World War I what Marvel’s Captain America origin story did for World War II. It gives you that prior knowledge that can be used as a springboard into the complexities of the time. You’ll see many commonalities between Captain America and Wonder Woman including strong characters both male and female. There is a real place for compare/contrast work with these two films. Wonder Woman also opens the door for lessons on the mythology and the Amazons.

This film is worth your entertainment dollar without a doubt. It’s always nice when it can be used as an instructional tool as well.

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Phoenix Comicon Clarification

It looks like you are all getting excited for the awesomeness that is Phoenix Comicon. We’ve been getting the inevitable questions about what education track programming will look like. The short answer is “we don’t know” but we are looking forward to seeing what the new team has planned and are confident that it will continue to be awesome.

For those of you who may be unaware, Pop Goes the Classroom is no longer involved in the planning and presenting of programming at Phoenix Comicon and its all good. We started our collaboration with Phoenix Comicon seven years ago and our founder, KellyAnn Bonnell worked with Phoenix Comicon to develop their educational track for six years. Last year at the end of the convention, she decided it was time to “send her baby to kindergarten” and passed the baton to the Science Track Program Manager.

The education track has solid programming and an excellent home with Science. We’re looking forward to the new blood the transition will bring this year.

This year Pop Goes the Classroom has partnered with Westercon which will be held in Tempe, July 1-4, so now you’ll have two opportunities for PD this summer!


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March is Literacy Month

by KellyAnn Bonnell, MA

There are few characters in American Pop Culture as iconic as those created by Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. From Horton to the Lorax, the characters and their stories, have captured the hearts and minds of children across many generations.

However Dr. Seuss books are more than simple entertainment. They introduce important concepts and phonics skills to early readers. This makes Dr. Seuss books a staple in almost every K-3 classroom in the country. Dr. Seuss is so beloved by teachers that the National Education Association chose his birthday, March 2 as Read Across America day and March is literacy month.

We at Pop Goes the Classroom take the celebration of all things Dr. Seuss very seriously. Last year we hosted the “Get Caught Reading After School Challenge”. We didn’t get as many pictures of reading with goats as we would have liked.

This year we took a little bit of a different tack and worked with kindergarten students at a Title 1 school to create mosiacs.

Thing Mosaic  Hat Mosiac

We used beans, rice and noodles to create images from the beloved children’s classic “The Cat in the Hat”.


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