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Production 8

The connected learning model bridges a gap between formal education (learning in the school) and informal education (learning outside of the class). In other words, connected learning consists of a student “pursuing a personal interest or passion, with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement” (Gutiérrez, et al., p.4). For example, a student’s passion for writing or drawing fan fiction content, can enhance writing skills and can be used during school assignments or writing portfolios (that may be used for applications). An important component of this is social collaboration and feedback from others.

The model identifies current issues with current educational institutions and systems and its lack of equitable opportunities. Current schooling often highlights the academic achievements of certain students and it does not provide a diverse set of learning opportunities for all students. Through this, “we risk reinforcing an educational system that only serves the interests of elites, breeding a culture of competition for scarce opportunities” (Gutiérrez, et al., p. 14).

The connected model provides more opportunities for students to engage in academic learning that is engaging and meaningful to them. In placement, my MT implemented a similar concept in which students presented a project about an interest, skill or hobby of theirs. Students worked together in groups based on shared interests and the presentation format was optional (i.e. writing, video, song, visual arts, etc.). These teaching practices work to increase student engagement, as the content is student-driven and meaningful.

As a teacher, I will work to help students make the connection between their interests and academic studies. They are not mutually exclusive and I will provide students the opportunity to collaborate and engage in their interests, while simultaneously flourish as academic learners.

 

Works Cited

Gutiérrez, K., Ito, M., Livingstone S., Salen, K., Schor S., Sefton-Green, Watkins, C.

(2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

 

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Critical Analysis

Critical Media Analysis

 

For more than four decades, Saturday Night Live has provided satire of current events. Often these satires critique mainstream news figures (more recently, Donald Trump). As well, the show pokes fun at many facets of mainstream, popular culture. For decades, Saturday Night Live has positioned itself separate from the mainstream media, providing “a lens through which the critic can focus on television’s evolving construction of what is new, normative and note-worthy in American culture” (Marx, p. 3). However, some might argue that it is a part of the mainstream media, perpetuating the ideologies of the dominant, while masking itself as resistant or rebellious. Stack and Kelly would define this resistance as: “opposition with a social and political purpose” (Stack and Kelly, p. 12). The following is an analysis of Saturday Night Live’s dual position as a corporate, moneymaking machine as well as a resistant critique on mainstream culture.

The show’s comedic content is often critical of political figures and some of the powerful people in America and abroad (i.e. Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of President Donald Trump). However, it is important to consider the ways in which SNL falls short as a practice of resistance. SNL is shown on network television and its success works to financially benefit NBC as well as the corporations invested in the network. As well, the show has taken on a life of its own in regards to popularity. Many of its featured players have become Hollywood mega-stars (Eddie Murphy). Some of the characters created for the show have been made into blockbuster movies (Wayne’s World). “Corporations create characters for the purpose of selling products” (Stack and Kelly, p. 7). In this way, SNL functions as a vehicle for moneymaking and celebrity. In some ways it has become a mainstream institution, much like the ones the show tries to ‘resist’.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the show has struggled with a lack of diversity over the years (Bellino). Female players Jane Curtin and Janeane Garafalo have spoken out about the ‘boy’s club’ mentality in which female writers were not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts (Bellino). More recently, the show has been criticized about its lack of African-American female players which lead to the hiring of Sasheer Zamata. It is important to consider the signs this lack of female or racial diversity present to the audience. Jenny Kidd posits: It is the assemblage of signs that is of interest, and by extension, how audiences or readers attach meaning to those assemblages” (Kidd, p. 2). In other words, the audience takeaway from SNL could be one in which white, heterosexual males are placed in a position of power over minorities.

Stack and Kelly suggest that even within institutions that perpetuate social inequalities, exist spaces in which we can “resist dominant, damaging representations and improvise new images” (Stack and Kelly, p.5). SNL fits nicely into this category. It exists as a part of these institutions while also trying to critique and subvert the mainstream.

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Bellino, Damian. (2017). “Let’s Talk About Saturday Night Live’s Complicated

Relationship with Black Women”. VH1 TV: Online. Online Article. Retrieved

from: http://www.vh1.com/news/306038/saturday-night-lives-complicated-

relationship-black-women-lesie-jones-maya-rudolph-sasheer-zamata/

 

Kidd, Jenny. (2016). Representation. New York City: Routledge. Print.

 

Marx, Nick., et. al. (2013). Saturday Night Live & American TV. Indiana University

Press. Print.

 

Stack, M., & Kelley, D.M. (2006). “Popular media, education, and resistance”. Canadian

Journal of Education, 29(1), 5-26. Print.

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Production 6

ken-fashionistas

Since 1959, “Ken” has been the primary male counterpart to the supremely popular Barbie Doll. In the year 2017, the doll received a makeover, releasing a new series of Kens, branded: “The Next Gen Ken”. The marketing of this line of dolls suggests a cool and modern rebirth of Ken, designed for a new generation of children. At first glance, the most notable difference is the addition of racial diversity. The Ken Doll, which previously consisted of mainly white and sometimes black iterations, is available in different tones of various skin colours. This addition of racial diversity signifies a step towards inclusivity for the Ken brand. However, when considering inclusivity and the messages these dolls send, one must consider the whole of its parts.

Firstly, the Ken doll continues to present an ideal of male beauty. In her work, Of Men and Machines: Images of Masculinity in Boys’ Toys, Wendy Varney outlines this representation of masculine beauty consisting of: “heavily muscled, square-jawed action figures, armed to the teeth, for boys” (Varney, p.157). Ken’s physical presentation embodies this concept. The “Next Gen Ken” presents a new, ‘diverse’ set of body types: “slim, original and broad”. While this promotion is seemingly cohesive with the inclusivity of the new skin tones, it is still problematic. Until these new body types, Ken has consisted of the build that Varney describes. As a result, the new ‘original’ version of Ken is still very muscly. The slim Ken is quite toned and the ‘broad’ version is only relative. In relation to the muscly build of the original, this ‘broad’ version is arguably average in reality. Broad suggests a sense of wideness or curviness. The doll itself is still quite svelte. Arguably, this proposed diversification of Ken’s body type continues uphold the physical standards and the ‘ideal masculinity’ that the doll has projected since its release.

Furthermore, these ‘diversified’ dolls wear similar clothes and are marketed as “fashionistas”. This presents a consumerist image in which Ken is cool because of the clothes he wears. Notably, the dolls wear similar styles of clothing, regardless of their ‘diversified’ race or body type. Arguably, these “Next Gen Kens” continue to present a representation of idealistic masculinity. Karen E. Wohlwend suggests, “child-made artifacts (are) tangible links to children’s identities and histories of experiences” (Wohlwend, p. 58). These particular toys uphold idealized standards of masculinity, masked by the marketing of a new, diverse Ken doll.

 

Works Cited

 

  1. Wohlwend, Karen E. (2009). Damsels in Discourse: Girls Consuming and Producing Identity Texts through Disney Princess PlayReading Research Quarterly, 44, 1, p. 57-83
  2. Varney, Wendy (2002). Of Men and Machines: Images of Masculinity in Boys’ ToysFeminist Studies, 28, 1 p. 153-174.

 

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Production 5

David Weisner’s work, “The Three Pigs” reimagines the classic fairytale, creating a new narrative and changing the meaning of ‘happily ever after’. The story presents the typical opening of the Three Little Pigs Story. However, the pigs begin to emerge from the pages and a notable shift occurs as the narrative is blown wide open and the characters are sent on a new trajectory.

The images position the pigs outside of the story, free-floating in a new world, ready to be discovered. As the pigs look back onto the pages of their story, it is as if they have taken the position of the reader. In terms of ideology, connections can be drawn between the role of the pigs and that of critical thinkers. D. Appleman refers to concept of colonial ideology as “the construction of a worldview that inherently privileges the perspectives of those who constructed it” (Appleman, p.87). Arguably, within Weisner’s work, the pigs are stepping out of the conventions of the story, and obtaining a broader, more holistic understanding of the constructed worldview the story creates for them. The pigs question why the wolf did not eat them and begin to recognize their own agency and freedom.

The pigs take on the role of critical thinkers in the sense that they recognize their position in relation to the constructed narrative, and do not accept this is as unquestioned truth. The imagery presented in the story works to support this notion. As the pigs emerge from their story, they take on a more realistic representation, leaving behind the cartoonish and somewhat false depiction in the storybook.

Although the mainstream media and popular culture narratives can work to perpetuate various social inequalities, “spaces exist—both within and beyond these institutions— where adults and youth resist dominant, damaging representations and improvise new images” (Stack & Kelly, 12). The pigs form their own narrative as they invite new characters in and turn their narrative on its head. This is signified by the disassembling of the story’s text. The pigs literally and figuratively dismantle the narrative. As educators, it is important for us to encourage students to step outside of their own constructed worldview and take on the role of the three pigs. Ernest Morrell illustrates this notion as he draws upon the importance of critical literacies: “naming, exposing, and destabilizing power relations; and promoting individual freedom and expression.” (Morrell, p. 241).

Works Cited

Appleman, D. (2009). Critical Encounters in The English Classroom. Teachers College Press.Chapter: Post-Colonial Theory in the English Classroom  (as you read, see if you can make interdisciplinary connections to your teachable)

Morell. E. (2007). Critical Literacy and Popular Culture in Urban Education: Toward a Pedagogy of Access and Dissent.

Stack, M., & Kelley, D.M. (2006). Popular media, education, and resistanceCanadian Journal of Education, 29(1), 5-26.

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Production 3

Imposed representations surround us all on a daily basis. Sometimes these representations are subtle and difficult to detect. In their work, Popular Media, Education and Resistance, Stack and Kelley note our ability to resist these imposed representations by “signaling, generating and building dialogue around particular power imbalances and inequalities” (Stack & Kelley, p. 12). This dialogue can help students recognize imposed representations instead of taking them at face value.

 

From an early age, I have experienced an imposed ideal of hegemonic masculinity. Various forms of media have perpetuated an ideal type of man: a powerful, strong, independent and heroic form of masculinity. At an early age, this ideal masculinity was imposed on me through consumer goods. The Mcdonalds happy meal dictated a clear division in regards to which type of toy I should want to play with: the “girls’ Barbie” or the “boys’ hot wheels racecar”. At the time, I did not realize I was being sent a message (nearly invisible and difficult for a child to recognize). The type of toy I chose in that drive-thru dictated what type of man I was choosing to be. If I had chosen the other option, I would be emasculating myself and projecting an image that is not living up to my potential as a man.

 

This issue extends beyond my instance in the Mcdonalds drive thru. In a broad context, this imposed representation of masculinity is arguably connected to the ideologies formed through colonialism. In Appleman’s work, Post Colonial Theory in the English Classroom, they refer to colonialism as “the construction of a worldview that inherently privileges the perspectives of those who constructed it” (Appleman, p.87). In this case, the worldview inherently privileges white, heterosexual males. In other words, the happy meal product, projects a representation of masculinity that is presented as ideal or something to aspire to. If the other product is chosen, then the buyer is putting themselves in a category that is less than (i.e. less powerful & feminine). In Reel Injun, the director points out a similar phenomenon in which the imposed representation robbed groups of Aboriginals of their identity and slotted them into the category of “Indian”. As a teacher, it is important to start the dialogue and point out these imposed representations to students. Hopefully, students will make the connection and not always take these representations as a single, inherent truth.

 

Works Cited

Appleman, D. (2009). Critical Encounters in The English Classroom. Teachers College Press.Chapter: Post-Colonial Theory in the English Classroom.

Reel Injun. Dir: Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge, Jeremiah Hayes. Domino Film, 2009. Film.

Stack, M., & Kelley, D.M. (2006). Popular media, education, and resistanceCanadian Journal of Education, 29(1), 5-26.

Production 2

“New literacies” refers to the variety of ways in which students develop the skills necessary to communicate ideas and make meaning. In her work, Popular Culture in Traditional and New Literacies, Donna E. Alvermann refers to new literacies as “communication in its widest sense (visual, oral, gestural, linguistic, musical, kinesthetic, and digital)” (p. 6). This notion expands beyond the traditional ‘autonomous model’, which posits a universal set of skills necessary to achieve a literate status in life (p. 5). In other words, new literacies expand communication beyond just reading and writing.

In regards to education, Alvermann notes an intersection between new and traditional literacies and the use of popular culture texts within the classroom (p. 14). It is important for teachers to understand the potential strengths of new literacies as some of them help to enrich the student learning experience. Specifically, these types of texts could enhance student engagement and agency. For example, my Grade 2 placement is learning about the ‘parts of a story’. They are provided with children’s books and corresponding worksheets. However, there is an opportunity to harness new literacies. Students could be asked to identify the parts of a story within an episode of their favourite movie or tv show, their favourite video game, etc. The teacher could use these popular culture texts as a means to engage students with a text they already enjoy and have chosen themselves. Some may argue that these texts may not transfer effectively for student learning. However, the texts can also be used as a follow-up task (comparing the parts of a story in both types of texts).

I agree with Alvermann’s notion: “meaning is found not in texts themselves, but in the social events through which those texts are produced and used” (p. 19). These texts can be utilized as a means to re-frame social practices. For example, ‘Pokémon Go’ reframed a walk in the park as a hunt to catch all Pokémon. Fewer and fewer children were inclined to go outside. Pokémon Go re-framed this practice as an exciting adventure. Arguably, this reframing process could be utilized in the classroom. The traditional completion of schoolwork can be reframed as an opportunity to watch your favourite movie, talk about your favourite comic book character, etc. Ultimately, traditional and new literacies are not mutually exclusive. New literacies can be utilized to enhance the existing learning style of traditional literacies.

Works Cited

Alvermann, D. E. (2011). Popular Culture and Literacy Practices: Traditional and New       Literacies. In M.L. Kamil, P. D. Pearson, E.B. Moje, & P.P. Afflerbach (Eds.), Handbook           of Reading Research: Volume IV, pp. 541-560. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis           Group.