|This lesson, appropriate for most secondary classrooms, entails writing about present-day pop culture as well as learning about pop culture of the past by using Cole Porter’s song “You’re the Top!” (1934) to touch on many issues relevant to a language arts classroom, especially the literary technique of cataloguing.
The lesson also provides opportunities for student research on particular time periods. Students can include pop culture items from those particular time periods (relevant to the literature they are studying, for example) in expressing the “tops” in pop culture.
|From Theory to Practice|
|This lesson employs the teaching strategy of “text-tapping,” which Lynn Langer Meeks and Carol Jewkes Austin describe as “a combination of guided reading and writing strategies that use a text as a source for ideas and instruction.” The idea is to use one text in order to produce another, student-created text. In this way, students use their primary discourses (those acquired mostly subconsciously through daily interaction) in order to learn and demonstrate secondary discourses (those learned through formal schooling). In doing so, the students understand that their primary discourses are valued, and thus they will be more inclined to participate in secondary discourses. Common strategies of text-tapping include having students write newspaper articles based on literature, update Shakespeare’s language into modern language, and write alternative endings to literature.
Meeks, Lynn Langer and Carol Jewkes Austin. Literacy in the Secondary English Classroom: Strategies for Teaching the Way Kids Learn. Boston: Pearson, 2003.
Instruction and Activities
|Students may be informally assessed through completed lyrics and class discussion or group participation (see rubric). Have individual students complete the Self-Reflection Worksheet or use the online Self-Reflection Checklist. Review students’ comments, and provide support for accurate reflections on their participation in the activity.
Collect students’ Lyric Analysis Charts as evidence of their reflection on the relevance of pop culture items. Teachers might create “Grammy” awards for best lyrics, best performance, most precise rhymes, best adherence to rhythm, or other student-voted favorites. For extended projects, students can be assessed on essays that analyze the original lyrics’ relevance or the student-created lyrics’ relevance.
2 – Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
3 – Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
6 – Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
11 – Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
12 – Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).