About

Relevance has been - and will continue to be - an important quality to understand and promote in learning centers around the world. The Relevant Classroom is devoted to the idea that students obtain more knowledge and retain further information when they actively participate in the learning process and when they can relate to what is being taught (Akey, 2006). There is a growing body of research about motivation, relevance, and engagement in current educational programs and systems pointing to the fact that: "One reason students fail or are disinterested is because they don't see the connection between today's lesson and what they really want to do someday. The more we can close that gap - to illustrate classroom relevance to their world - the better we can engage students and keep their interest (Masters, 2009).

So what? Well research also shows that popular culture, as unsophisticated as it can seem at times, actually has a large potential in supporting relevance and motivation in education. Lessons based on popular culture can offer a wealth of opportunities for encouraging students to critically engage in broader discussions about the ways that mass media construct various cultural, gender, and social roles; promote particular representations of the world; and position youth as consumers (Black, 2010). Writer and former educator Mark Phillips heralded motion pictures and media as a partial solution when he said:

 “Film can be used as a culminating experience to summarize a unit or lesson. It can be studied as an art form. Short films designed to teach a concept or skill, especially in a subject like physical education, can be very useful. Developing students' critical consciousness of visual media should be a major part of every school's curriculum.” 

Many teachers have turned to movie or TV clips to use as glimpses into a subject, discussion instigators, and as opportunities to teach. Scholar and educator Renee Hobbes illustrates:

Teachers who have used popular works in the classroom know that such works can generate some remarkable, vigorous, and sophisticated reasoning, rich conversations, and dynamic writing from young people . . . It's a transformative experience for a young person to discover that the same skills used to discuss The Tempest can be applied to an episode of "The Wonder Years." Students who discover this in a powerful way chant a mantra that many teachers who employe media literacy have heard frequently: 'I'll never watch TV the same way again!'" (Hobbes, 1998). 

Our question: why isn’t there a place for teachers to share ideas of movie or song clips from popular culture with one another? What if there were a site or curated area on the web where teachers could work together to build a crowd-sourced database of popular culture clips to be used in the classroom? It could be organized by subject, topic, and/or discipline, and then meta-tagged with specific lessons (like PEMDAS in math or the signing of the Declaration of Independence in history). Could such a place exist?

In a world of abundant information, it seems that this idea may already be taken. However, I have been unable to find anything of its kind. Below are a few examples of sites that are similar, and I have gained a large amount of inspiration from them. 

teachwithmovies.org - A great site that targets using full length movies (1-3 times a year). The organization has designed full lesson plans around the films, and you are required to pay a monthly fee to access them. This doesn't quite reach the niche I am looking for of short - easy to use and navigate - open content that helps students and teachers connect quickly and meaningfully to lessons. 
movieclips.com - A really good example of how to organize and tag clips. Possibly, when we have more clips up and going, we can organize things around not just the subjects but the films themselves. 
teachingchannel.org - This is a neat site that has a great interface and crisp design. I like how it ties things back to the common core, and it is easy to navigate and quickly evaluate what you are looking at.
schooltube.com - The appealing thing about this site is the simplicity and clarity. My site could look very similar, just with clips from movies and pop songs instead of user generated content. 


The Relevant Classroom is the place where all these good ideas can come together. However, this can only be a reality with the contribution and support of educators and instructors who care. 

Get started by sharing some clips you use in your class!



Akey, T. M. (2006, January). School context, student attitudes and behavior, and academic achievement: An exploratory analysis. New York: MDRC. Retrieved April 6, 2012, from http://www.mdrc.org/publications/419/full.pdf

Black, Rebecca W. "Online Fan Fiction And Critical Media Literacy." Journal Of Computing In Teacher Education 26.2 (2010): 75-80. ERIC. Web. 28 Feb. 2012

Hobbs, Renée. "The Simpsons Meet Mark Twain: Analyzing Popular Media Texts in the Classroom." 
The English Journal, 87.1 (1998), pp. 49-51. http://www.jstor.org/stable/822021

Masters, Andy. "4 Ways to Engage Today’s Generation of Students." Techniques (AECT) 84.3 (2009): 8-9. Print.