Popular Culture- EDU Blog #9


Thcomic-superhero-chest-illustration_23-2147501841e challenge for this post was to write a post about using popular culture in the classroom. At first, I didn’t think it would be a problem. But one thing that caught my eye on the challenge was the post about not using popular culture in the classroom.

I was not able to read the post but I thought it was a good one because, while my room has some superhero items, I don’t incorporate them much. Plus, my superheroes are back from the 90s when I was more likely reading them.

Here are a couple of the reasons I don’t use Pop culture much in class

I’m a Dork– Generally speaking I am a dork and don’t keep up with much of the pop culture. I enjoy movies, but, even when I was younger, I often thought that the fads and fashion that come out of music and culture were often ridiculous. I still kind of do.

Entertainment Value– I am a dork (see above). I am old, in the eyes of my students. If I try to connect with certain aspects of Pop Culture, I will easily come off as old and out of touch. I already know I am so I don’t need help with this. Plus, it is hard to compete with the entertainment value these huge corporations have. So, I don’t try on that aspect.


Garbage– Even though I appreciate some of the art and artistry involved with some aspects of Pop Culture, I do not want to expose my students to some of the garbage that is out there. Years ago, I had a 3rd grader tell me he watched Saw 2 over the weekend! What the what!? Culture doesn’t seem to give a rip about allowing our kids to be kids, but I am going to do what I can to protect the innocence of my own daughters AND my students, as much as I can.

Plus, much of the music is absolutely ridiculous: sexual, violent, hedonistic, etc…I think it is already in our natures to be selfish and self-absorbed me-monkeys. I’m not going to feed into that  with my students.

Now, there may be some good reasons (ie..relevance, for one) but I just don’t see the need for general Pop Culture. Maybe some of the kid friendly things, but even then, I can only take so much of that. 😉

Signing off,

Derrick- “The old curmudgeon”




Mini Saturday Links- 4-14-18

A Dozen Tools to Foster Growth Mindset and Prevent Learned Helplessness– Great post by Spencer Kagan. Not sure how long the link is available, but check it out.

What is design thinking? Can it work in my classroom?– Read to find out how you can use this in the classroom.

The Danger of Never Being “Done”– Dave Burgess (Teach Like a Pirate) offers some pointers to help us, teachers, be okay with not being done and make sure we are resting and taking care of ourselves.

Links- 4-11-18

Enjoy the links…or don’t. 🙂

Does Spellcheck Make “Learners” More Intelligent?– George Couros shares his thoughts on feedback.

Flip The Traditional Teacher Read Aloud– Maybe looking at how kids ask questions could offer us some insight into their thinking.

How Read-Aloud Can Improve Behavior And Instill A Lifelong Love Of Reading– On the other hand, maybe we just read to kids. When we do too much teaching during read alouds, we often “butcher the heart and soul of great stories.” So true.

Using Picture Books in the Middle School Classroom– While I don’t teach Middle School (and likely would never 🙂 ). I love the idea that even Pernille’s middle schoolers know they are never too old for picture books. She discusses how she has used them, even in her middle school classroom.

Using Kahoot! and others the way your brain craves– Matt Miller shares why we should use Kahoot and similar things for our students.

Happy Wednesday,


Mini Link Post- 4-4-18

Time is short. Here is a small sampling. 🙂

Caption This! A fun, deep-thinking Google Drawings activity

Crash! Bang! Boom! How to add Google Drawings comic strips to your class

What About Those Computerized “Reading Incentive” Programs?– This is from a book called the Read-Aloud Handbook. Great thoughts. “Take the carrot or incentive off the stick and you’re left with a stick—or weapon.”

Student Privacy- EDU Blog #8

This has been an issue that comes up often when you start talking about ways to connect students ‘globally’. As a father, it is certainly a concern as my daughters start to navigate the online world.

We cannot be naive about the online world and its capabilities. Some educators only talk about the good and some parents and watchgroups talk mostly of the bad. However, I think, like many issues, there are both sides to consider.

There are many things we can do using technology that we couldn’t before. There are also many creepers out there and teaching our children about proper ways to keep them safe is not about censorship but about protecting the innocence and privacy of our young ones. (I speak, primarily from an Elementary age perspectives-I think some of the things can apply to older kids, but the application is different as they grow older.)

Common Sense Media has a Digital Citizenship curriculum that can be used as a way to walk through some of these issues or as a resource to help us equip our kids to be responsible citizens, digital or not. This is a topic that could go on, but my time is short.

Be sure to check it out.


Hot Links- Wednesday 3-28-17

Please Do Enjoy!

On Authentic Reading Goals and Conversations– Pernille Ripp is an advocate for having reading conversations with her students and making the effort to have reading goals beyond “x-number of points each week.”

On Creating Reading Experiences– Pernille discusses having students do more than just tasks with their reading.

A Call for Common Sense Reading Instruction– Must be a Pernille Ripp link day. 🙂 She discusses the importance of time, access, choice and more in reading instruction.

Just Pause– Matt Miller shares his thoughts on giving students time to work out some of the thoughts they have.

How to Start Over in 3 Steps– Michael Linsin shares some thoughts on what we can do when we, teachers, need to start over with class management.

Have a good week.


The Listicle- EDU Blog #7- Top 3 Takeaways from CUE 2018

A couple weeks ago, I got to go the CUE 2018 conference. CUE originally stood for Computer Using Educators, but it has expanded to much more.

This is my second year going to the conference. For me, it is like Teacher Comic Con…without the costumes. These are generally tech savvy (or tech interested) teachers…which makes for an interesting time. While tech is a big focus, it was rarely THE focus. It always came back to the children. THEY are why we do it, but if we can use tech to help us engage, be more effective, save some time…well, we are all for that.

Here are a couple, okay 3, of my takeaways from CUE in no particular order of importance.

Student Voice and Choice– This came up often. In sessions. In the hallways; I was even interviewed by a couple teachers who were participating in a PBL workshop. From the simple idea of having students choose from a menu of choices, to apps like like FlipGrid, or Google Forms, there was much talk about student voice and choice.


The idea can be intimidating at first, but when we can help kids choose what to learn within some boundaries, the engagement automatically goes up. [I will be honest. I am not entirely comfortable with 7 and 8 year olds walking out or protesting against adults (or Gov’t) about a political issue like gun control (it is more complex that a sign or slogan).

That said, within the classroom, there can be much value in offering these things.

Creation- There was talk of how we can get kids creating. Art, tech, art-infused tech, and all kids of combinations of that. They was one company (Bird Brain, I think) that introduces Elementary kids to Arduino and Raspberry Pi like products (Not my area of strength) while having them use cardboard and pipe cleaners, etc…to create their robots and code their robots to do stuff. This was just one example. I love the idea and I know my kids get more excited when I can get them making stuff, either physically or digitally.birdbrain-1

Relationships- This idea came up often. Maybe it is where I am right now or where I need to work better, but I feel like many of the presenters and teachers I talked with stressed the importance of relationships. Whether it was with students or other educators in their building or on Twitter; it came up often.

“No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” James Comer

One of the cool things about CUE is also the educators I came in contact with. This was where I re-learned the value of connecting with other educators, who want to talk about their passions (children and tech-and more). cloud

I could probably write a long series of posts about the things I learned from CUE (and I may, but my attention span needs help), but I leave you with these few reflections. I hope you got some value out of them. If you ever get a chance to go to CUE, it is worth trying out at least once. I can nearly guarantee you will learn something and meet someone new.

NOTE: Go check out CUE’s Website for more info. Or their Youtube channel with some of the sessions.

Happy Tuesday!