Minecraft Used to Teach Molecular Chemistry

This is a great piece that takes Minecraft beyond coding into other content areas. Check it out here.

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Pop Culture Case Study

Recently I stumbled on to a podcast that combines movies with psychological traits. This is the kind of information that can be really valuable when an educator is looking to ingrate popular culture into an existing theme. I hope you enjoy.

Pop Culture Case Study Listen Now

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Our youth contributor Lorna Bonnell brought this article from Geek and Sundry to our attention to share. Thanks Lorna!

Evidence and research is stacking up to prove that comic books make their readers smarter. Comics make you want to read, and they use complex language which improves verbal intelligence. Like steroids for the mind, comics can even take struggling readers and make them stronger!



Society at large has long frowned upon comics. During the 1950s, they were slandered as base entertainment for children and immature adults which would turn readers intohoodlums and degenerates or communists.

And while that has all changed and comics have risen to become the string section in the symphony of our culture, with a select few titles (Sandman, Watchmen, and Maus) even praised as high art, there still lurks the suspicion that comics are in some way an intellectually inferior endeavor. They’re so thin, so colorful, and just so enjoyable, the thinking goes that they can’t be good for you.

Put a copy of Watchmen on a table next to War & Peace, and one cannot but help be struck by the look of the two of them. The great Russian novel is so thick with authority that it could crush Alan Moore’s superhero opus with just its footnotes. War & Peace burgeons with abstruse references to early 19th century Russian Freemasonry and long digressions on the events of the year 1812. Only the most patient and persistent of readers complete it.Watchmen, with its capes, conspiracies, fantastic drawings, and modern setting seems to ask less of the reader. But Watchmen is such a compelling book that in 2008 alone, it likely sold over one million copies.

Continue Reading Here

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Student Art Show

 Origin Stories: Future Artists  is a celebration of student art inspired by popular culture from graphic novels to movies, music to television. Art may be of any static media including but not limited to drawing/illustration; painting; sculpture; and mixed media. A statement of artistic inspiration must accompany all entries.

Any violation of these rules may, at Pop Goes the Classroom’s discretion, result in disqualification. All decisions of the judges regarding this program are final and binding in all respects.

  1. ELIGIBILITY. Students must participate through a local school or youth development organization. A student may develop an entry in or outside of school.
  2. ARTS CATEGORIES. Art may be any static media including but not limited to drawing/illustration; painting; sculpture; and mixed media.
  3. GRADE DIVISIONS. Student entries will be grouped into divisions based on age and grade (Primary: Up to age 7; Intermediate: Ages 8-10; Middle School: Ages 11-13; High School: Ages 14+; Differently-Abled Artists: All ages welcome).
  4. HOW TO ENTER. Entries must be submitted by a representative from their school or youth development organization referred to as a “sponsor” such as an art teacher or program manager. Home school students may be entered by their parent who will act as “sponsor”. Sponsors will email one photograph of an entry to popgoestheclassroom@gmail.com for first round selection. Please include the name of the artist, current grade, school district and school attending. All entries must be received by March 2, 2016. Semi-finalists will be selected for display at ASU’s Dev Con, May 7-8, to be held on the campus of ASU West where finalists and winners will be selected. There is no fee to enter the art show and attendance at Dev Con is also free.
  5. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS. · Only new pieces of artwork inspired by pop culture will be considered this includes but is not limited to inspiration from television, film, graphic novels, contemporary music, and genre fiction. · Each entry must be the original work of one student only. An adult may not alter the creative integrity of a student’s work. Because the program is designed to encourage and recognize each student’s individual creativity, help from an adult or collaboration with other students is not allowed except in the Special Artist Division. Only one student may be recognized as the award recipient for each entry · Each Finalist entry must contain a title and all entries must include an artist statement. The artist statement communicates what inspired the work, how it relates to the theme, and the content of the work. The statement must include at least one sentence, but may not exceed 100 words. · Use of copyrighted material is permitted as inspiration and must be referenced in the artist statement for consideration.
  6. FINALIST SELECTION AND NOTIFICATION. Entries are reviewed by a committee of volunteer arts education professionals on behalf of Pop Goes the Classroom. Entries will be judged primarily on how well the student uses his/her artistic vision to portray pop culture themes with an emphasis placed on originality and creativity. Under no condition may sponsors, parents or students contact judges to dispute the status of any entry. All decisions will be made by the judges representing Pop Goes the Classroom and are final.

The first round of judging will take place through review of photographs of entries. Finalists will be selected for display at Dev Con, May 7-8. Artists will be notified via email through their adult sponsors; and given details for art drop off for the event. Winners will be announced on Saturday of Dev Con and art will be available for student pick up on Sunday.

  1. OWNERSHIP AND LICENSE. Ownership in any submission shall remain the property of the entrant, but entry into this program constitutes entrant’s irrevocable permission and consent that Pop Goes the Classroom may display, copy, reproduce, enhance, print, sublicense, publish, distribute and create derivative works for Dev Con, West Valley Arts Council, the Arizona Consortium for the Arts and Pop Goes the Classroom purposes. None of the afore mentioned entities are responsible for lost or damaged entries. Submission of entry into the art show constitutes acceptance of all rules and conditions.
  2. PARTICIPATING ENTITIES. This program is administered by Pop Goes the Classroom and the Arizona Consortium for the Arts in association with Dev Con.
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To Be Clear: Epic Rap Battle

“Dude, to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music.”-Neil Degrasse Tyson

When Rapper B.o.B. claims the earth is flat and calls out Dr. Tyson an epic rap battle ensues. IFLScience gives us the details and you can listen to both tracks.

Use this artifact in History to explore when it was a common belief that the world was flat. Use it in music class to explore music as a form of communication. You can even use it for current events and exploring why some in our country are battling science. And of course you can use it to teach Science. Go figure.

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Blogging is the New Persuasive Essay

By Shelley Wright

As an English teacher, I’ve had numerous conversations with college professors who lament the writing skills of their first year students. But not all writing. Most students are capable of solid expository writing. It’s their skill with persuasive writing that’s the problem. Specifically, they’re weak at writing a thesis statement that can be argued.

I spend three years teaching my high school students how to write a persuasive essay. For many students, it takes that long. (And I’m lucky to have them that long in my school.)

Part of the problem is that our current school systems — and not just in Canada — aren’t great at producing independent thinkers. Without this ability, it’s hard to create a great thesis statement, anticipate the arguments against it, and then compose your own argument in light of what you understand about the pros and cons of an issue.

Finish reading this post here

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2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Inside Out Teachers’ Media Guide Now Available

Inside Out was released on DVD with a host of bonus features. This package allows us to use the movie and bonus features in real and meaningful ways in our classrooms. The Teachers’ Media Guide has ideas for classroom integration for K-8.

Check it out here!

We’ll be having a 20% off sale November 30 and December 1. It’s a great time to get a few guides and step up your pop culture integration game.



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Content Specialists vs Youth Development Specialists

A typical class is 45 – 50 minutes in duration.  Project based learning is a hot topic in education these days; but how do you engage kids in meaningful learning when you have them for chunks of time that are less than an hour? The silo-ing of content areas is a main problem. By intermediate middle school, teachers are specialized into their content areas teaching math, science, language arts, etc separately.However that’s now how the world works.

Then there is Out of School Time. Adults in these spaces are youth development specialists, not content area specialists. They get kids and how kids learn. There is no silo-ing of content. So what does project based learning look like in Out of School time? Check it out:


Once Upon a School is an initiative that Dave Eggers, the TED team, and 826 National developed after Dave received the 2008 TED Prize and was given one wish to change the world. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is known worldwide for its conferences, the exemplary TED talks it shares online at www.ted.com, and the people and causes it champions through its annual TED Prize. Dave’s wish was to gather stories of private citizens engaged in their local schools so that people everywhere could share the details of their efforts in schools and be inspired by the work being done by others.

Read more about Once Upon a School here

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