What is popular with young people? A Pinterest Board

This week’s blogging task was to investigate ‘what is popular with young people’ and present our findings visually on a pinterest board. To do that, I had to first join pinterest…

I have stayed blissfully ignorant about Pinterest. My impression of it has come from my (addicted) facebook mum-friends who use the site to pin gourmet lunchbox snack ideas (the mums who make these lunches are a whole different breed of species to me), 1001 ways a piece of string and cotton ball can amuse toddlers, and how to blitz-clean your house in an hour flat. Not really my scene, tbh :).

I (briefly) lamented on twitter that I was having to join the Pinterest crowd — and had a swift number of replies from authors telling me I would love it (nay, even become addicted!) and that they use it for writing inspiration (replacing old school magazines cut and paste jobs).

It took two minutes to join. Two more minutes to figure out how to make a board. Pinning was ridiculously easy. I downloaded the toolbar. Downloaded the free app. And then I found some author boards…

On the Jellicoe Road Book Cover by paigereader. (Flickr image, CC BY-NC 2.0)

SERIOUSLY once I found some of my favourite authors were on there I was in heaven. Melina Marchetta pins about the shows she’s been watching (my to-watch list has significantly grown), gorgeous location inspiration for the upcoming Jellicoe Road move (major squee!), favourite actors and all kinds of novel/character writing inspiration. All of a sudden, Pinterest has become my kind of place.

Once semester finishes I plan lose myself in there (I feel sheepish for my earlier Pinterest snobbery) and I am excited for such a great resource to collect so many favourite places and things — and for a place to be inspired by those who inspire me. But for now, I have created the board for this task.

 The board I created focuses on boys and girls in primary school (grades 3-7).

Popular culture is constantly changing and evolving and then flipping back on itself, reincarnating or borrowing from retro times. Marsh and Millard (2000) talk about how children’s popular culture has so many diverse artefacts, such as: toys, games, comics, stickers, cards, jokes, word play and accessories. “The list is not prescriptive: children’s popular culture forms are constantly emerging and disappearing (p.20)”

I found it really interesting to spot patterns with my pins and have roughly grouped them into four kinds of popular culture…

Popular in 2013: popular culture that’s survived (or morphed) for decades. Image: my collage from pinterest collection

1) Popular culture that has survived, morphed or reincarnated from years ago

Star Wars, Lego, Superman, Super Mario Bros, Marvel comic characters and Doctor Who are all popular now. These were all around in my childhood, a generation ago. Though superman didn’t look as sleek, and Marvel have boosted their franchise with the Avengers. Lego is a childhood staple, but it also mirrors popular culture, creating sets that match popular movies and books (like Harry Potter and The Hobbit Lego). The original trilogy Star Wars movies are just as loved today, as is George Lucas’s new animated series The Clone Wars (a Star Wars spin-off).

2) Popular activities/fads

Girls love the clapping hands games, with rhymes and multi-player rhymes. At the moment magic tricks are the “in thing” at my local primary school – in particular, card tricks. The difference this time is that many students are learning card tricks by following youtube channels. So much easier to watch and perfect than deciphering a book. Elastics are a game I played as a girl and I am happy to see them on the cusp of making a comeback. And I think handball is a childhood staple 🙂

3) Popular culture that involves current technology

Popular culture that involves technology image credit: my collage created from my pinterest board

Gaming and iOs devices are such a thriving market and kids are loving it. Not many kids are into social networking (yet) but instagram and skype are the popular recurring ones. In fact, most kids prefer to Skype than to call on the phone. My childhood version of these iOS games was my hand-held Tetris game. Mate, how I wracked up major high scores on that thing, lying in bed at night listening to Blur and Oasis 🙂

4) Things that are unique to this generation

Popular culture unique to this generation Image credit: my collage from pinterest board

TV shows, movies, books, singers, bands and merchandise that kids are unique to this era: Bajo and Hex on Good Game SP, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Adventure Time, Andy Griffiths (I think his books are perfectly pitched at kids to be timeless :)), Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Minions and ABC3 (I remember when KRudd “pushed the button” to launch the channel in 2009) These may last for a generation (or beyond? I hope Smiggle does! That shop is way too addictive!)

One thing on my board which I have not put in a collage is ZOMBIES and THE APOCALYPSE. Zombies have always been around (haha) but now they are pretty huge. I witnessed an adult friend being tackled on the weekend by a herd of kids, who jumped on him, chanting “brains! brains! brains!’ – even toddlers know what’s up…

ALSO: Classroom teachers who may be interested: One year nine art teacher blogs about her classroom experience with Pinterest. Worth your while ()if you end up becoming a Pinner — (is that the lingo?)

Marsh, J & Millard, E. (2000) Literacy and Popular Culture: Using children’s culture in the classroom. London: SAGE.

Teaching in the (technologically advanced) future…

Is it the end of chalk and talk? TEACHING CHEMISTRY by starmanseries (flickr image CC BY-NC 2.0)

As part of my Youth, Popular Culture and Texts unit of work I’ve been exploring how this new era of Web 2.0 and technology revolution impacts on teaching and learning. What better place to look than to check out what fellow teachers are out there doing? I’d like to introduce you to Mr Barlow…

Mr Barlow is Melbourne-based high school science teacher and eLearning leader. He has had overwhelming success with integrating emerging technologies into his classrooms. I first heard of him while cruising in the libraries journal database, searching for articles with ‘intrinsic motivation’, ‘self-efficacy’ and ‘web 2.0’ (all three of these search terms go so nicely together :)). After reading a 2008 article of his I thought I should check out his blog (I was curious to see if it was still alive and if it was thriving – I know blogger burnout is a real thing and maintaining a blog long term is no easy feat).

Mr Barlows podcast
Image credit

I was gobsmacked to find his blog is flourishing with nearly 2 million hits (this after very humble, tentative beginnings). Mr Barlow not only uses blogging as part of his pedagogy but has increased his teaching repertoire to include:

  • An active podcast channel
  • An interactive electronic book (complete with over 50 integrated videos) available on itunes for his grade 6 science students
  • And his senior biology students are some of the first in the world to have iOS apps designed specifically for their course.

His blog includes resources for teachers, online learning for students and links to papers and presentations.

I definitely recommend reading some of his papers – one I enjoyed was The End of ‘Chalk and Talk.’ Mr Barlow compares his classroom/teaching results as he moves away from the traditional teaching style of ‘chalk and talk’ instead integrating podcasting and student-directed activities (Spoiler: the students got better marks and they also considered him a better teacher).

One thing that stood out to me was how Barlow found it discombobulating to relinquish the traditional teaching method (discombobulating = me, paraphrasing :)). He reports that it felt different, letting go of the teacher being the centre of attention and the focus of the lesson. That his role changed. Even to the extent of feeling like he was not doing his job properly – being less active in the classroom and relinquishing control to the students.

I love the idea of integrated technologies in the classroom. Research overwhelming shows that incorporating emerging technologies into teaching pedagogy produces greater results and fosters a rich, motivating learning environment. What teacher does not want that for their students?

However, what does that mean my job as a teacher will look like? It will not look like what my teacher’s job was back in the 80’s and 90’s when I was a student in school. It won’t even look like my early years of teaching in the 2000’s. It’s an exciting era for teaching and I feel like I am only on the cusp of exploring how new technologies can transform Australian schools. I’m excited for what it means for my own kids learning and also as I seek to adapt my own classroom pedagogy. (I also pray for a small handful of tech savvy kids in each of my classes, haha – this new generation of kids are brilliantly adept and often make manipulating technology seem effortless — they’re a godsend as I negotiate my way through tricky waters).

Barlow, T., 2012, The end of ‘Chalk and Talk’Teaching Science, Volume 58, Number 1, p.54-57.

iTunes books – Year Nine – Science Gamified by Mr Barlow
Image credit

iMovie — bringing creativity and digital technology into the classroom

iMovie by uka0310 (flickr image CC BY-NC 2.0)

I loved reading Bruce Derby’s ‘Creativity in my Pocket: No ‘I’ Puns Here’ journal article. There are so many complex issues involved with integrating emerging technologies into the curriculum that it can be easy to feel swamped and out of depth. Derby simplifies everything down – mobile learning devices do not need to compete with traditional learning but rather augment it.

An iPod is a little easier to manage…
man with video camera by woodleywonderworks
(flickr image CC BY-NC 2.0)

I love the idea of using iMovie in classrooms. When I was in grade 11 my friends and I made a movie clip to go with a favourite song for our photography class. I remember the ridiculous fun we had – roaming about the school shooting in multiple locations and getting all arty with angles and acting and goofing around. Even more so, I still remember the hours and weeks spent editing and mucking about with bulky and time-consuming (expensive) technology, spending our lunchtimes and free periods in the lab to get things done in time. We fudged our way through it, our teacher constantly on hand to help with the complex technology. It’s astounding how far this technology revolution has come (understatement of the year). My own kids were making and editing movies (complete with synchronised sound tracks and special effects) when they were in first grade – for fun, at home, with no formal training.

I believe school should be a place where students (and teachers, too!) have fun. Where students are motivated and their creative potential is explored and expanded. The beauty of mobile devices, and apps such as iMovie, is that you can cover all the same curriculum content, achieve the same outcomes and indicators, and use these new technologies to present the learning in a way that enhances enthusiasm and enjoyment. How fun is making a movie with your friends? And then enjoying a lesson watching and learning from peers’ movies (even teachers love these relaxing and bonding lessons)? How much more does making a movie ignite creative processes as opposed to aurally presenting information in front of the class – it really is a fab tool for unleashing that creative possibilities.

“There is nothing revolutionary here… The only thing that has changed is the application of newer technology to established tasks, expanding the possibilities for the creating of the final product. Most importantly, this technology is incredibly simple to use.” (Derby, 2011, P.99)

Special shout out to iOS developers and how they really have simplified technology. Seriously, even my grandmother can use this stuff 🙂

Bonus: It was 1996 (year 11) — we made our own video clip to go along to Tracy Bonham’s Mother Mother. Oh, the angst of those teen years. Good times. Tracy Bonham’s original clip below 🙂

Derby, B. (2011). Creativity in my pocket: No ‘I’ puns here. English in Australia 46(3).