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Sarah Elizabeth

on 9 May 2013

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Draw or write a story that incorporates something from
pop-culture or media from your childhood.
This is what the students in Rita's classroom do to integrate
their daily lives outside of the classroom into their writing.

For a little inspiration to bring you back in time... Writing To Create Community The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write
By Ann Haas Dyson Students in Rita's classroom integrated pop-culture, and
multi-modal texts into their writing. One highlight to Rita's
classroom was the fluidity between both fiction and non-fiction
in her students writing.
For example, students would use notable "characters" from
media (TV, movies, music) in combination with real stories about
their own lives.
The title of Dyson's book clearly indicates a strong familial community. Rita's constantly refers to her students not as students but as children and they as siblings. The connects that students made with one another were fostered by their discussions around media and other important elements in their lives. Unlike many classrooms Rita embraced student's interests
by allowing them to engage in pop-culture. These
interactions directly impacted the literacy environment.
Her children did such by:
- Singing
- Dancing
- Role playing Children as the writers Pop-culture in Literacy "You are my classroom family" (p.76) Why we chose to have the class write a story integrating pop culture:

Because Dyson suggests allowing students to use what they know from pop culture and the media, we wanted to show the class the benefits. In The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write, Rita’s students constantly use ideas from songs, TV shows, movies, and even the news to help them write their own stories. We wanted the class to participate in the same activities that the students in the book completed. By doing this, the class was able to understand how and why Rita’s students combined media with personal ideas. Not only could the class connect with our book, but they could also use what they drew as models for their own students!

By Amanda R Post-Presentation Reflection
The experience of my colleagues partaking in the activity that we had set for them was personally very insightful and informing for me. I noticed that after my group members and I shared our examples of the stories that we had created using a form of popular culture, some of my colleagues had questions as to how they were to incorporate pop culture. Specific questions that some had were whether the story could be fiction or non-fiction, as well as whether it could be a fantasy or dream that they used to have about certain people involved in the pop culture media. Through this experience, I realized the contrast between Rita's students, who sketched and wrote stories without hesitation, not purposefully thinking about do's and don'ts of a task; whereas, my fellow colleagues had many questions about the instruction of this task. This difference led me to question how this might reflect the ways in which educators from our past have influenced our own form of agency, perhaps somewhat disempowering us by having the need to perform a task exactly as the task-giver wants us to. How then, can I, as an educator, change this direction of agency to a more empowering path in which others feel confident enough to creatively go beyond the mere instructions of a task?
By Grace Roh Why did we play music in the background?

Music is a popular form of media to the students in Rita’s classroom. They are constantly singing songs from pop culture and using them to communicate and participate in literary activities. We used music to inspire those classmates who might have had trouble coming up with ideas for their own stories. We specifically chose music from the 90’s in order to bring classmates (or at least the majority of the classmates) back to their childhood. By doing this, our classmates could remember media from their past easier.

By Amanda R Sesame Street in the Classroom The media industry has in many ways taken over the way we interact, connect and teach. Today's classrooms are full of new technology and media sources that as Dyson says, bring the adult world closer to the child's. In her book "The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write" Ann Dyson discusses how the media has played a significant role in shaping our students lives. The article which I chose to share with the class was a Sesame Street video with Will-I AM singing. At first glance this video is a fun and high spirited song for young viewers. I felt that including this video in our discussion of Dyson displayed the role of the media in children’s lives. I feel that teachers often stressed at the idea of integrating pop culture into the classroom. Not only do some of these texts represent inappropriate material, but also to stay in the confines of the curriculum. Dyson explains that teachers must allow their children to explore their cultural surroundings and integrate them in their literacy practices. Such work gives them ownership and pride over their work. In choosing this artifact I wanted to give our class an example of an exciting multi-modal text which portrayed a pop culture icon. The Sesame Street videos are an on-going series that provide students with that pop culture outlet, while still sending positive appropriate messages. My hope was that teachers may provide their classes with such media outlets to help them feel that their world is valued.

- Sarah LeBarron Reflection on Artifact The artifact that I shared with the class was a video of my kindergarten students practicing their snap words. However, instead of simply spelling and saying them together, the class integrated the popular song “Call Me Maybe” into the activity. Students sang and spelled the snap words to the tune of the song. Dyson frequently writes about bringing pop culture and media into literacy. By doing so, students are engaged and feel a connection between their world at home and their world at school. My artifact connects to Dyson’s beliefs about pop culture because my students combined a song that they are engaged in outside of school with a literacy activity that they practice on a daily basis. By creating a simple song that matched the tune of a song that they know and love, my students are instantly more engaged and willing to practice their snap words. This encourages them to participate in class and improve their high frequency word knowledge. Something that only takes five minutes of class time helps them to improve in all aspects of literacy because they are able to recognize high frequency words while reading and use them correctly while writing.

By: Amanda R Critical Literacy Inquiry Group - Post Reflection The text, The Brothers and Sisters Learn to Write is written by Ann Haas Dyson, who is a researcher in Rita's first grade classroom. My initial interest in the book came about because I was placed in a first grade classroom this semester. I felt that this book would resonate and mimic in terms the kinds of work that would be parallel from the classroom in the text and the classroom I am in. Through the reading and group discussions, we highlighted and tracked themes that helped us to read and navigate through the dense text. As we were making sense of the text we were also gathering artifacts in our own classrooms to see how it is played out in the classroom, I was able to see how writing was a primary way to get students to build community. One of the first activities in the school year in my classroom was to write ways to give "Put-Ups" to fellow classmates. The use of writing extend in terms of writing that includes the world of the students. In the text, Rita allows students to write with fictional characters. In a similar way, students in my class wrote about the world around them, whether it be about cartoon characters, current events, or brand name products. Through reading the text, it guided my reading of the world and the word in my own classroom.
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