Tag Archive for Pumped Up Kicks

Songs of Summer: Essential Questions

I’ll admit it.  I listened to Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes” on an infinite loop during the summer of 1993.  Keep in mind, infinite loop meant hitting the back button on a CD Walkman.  This statement dates me.  Right now my students are listening to Carly Rae Jepsen or One Direction. Last summer they were listening to LMFAO’s “Party Rock” and Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”.  But Janet Jackson?  I’m not even sure they remember her wardrobe malfunction.

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There’s something about a good catchy pop song, especially during the summer.  I can pinpoint exactly what I was doing while listening to the great ones (i.e. Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”) and the horrible ones (i.e. Los Del Rios’ “Macarena”).

Whether you find the “it” song of summer better every time it’s played or so annoying that you change the station, you know them and so do your students. It can be hard to find a topic, any topic that so vividly inspires debate in students as defending or defiling the summer song.

So make use of it.  With very little prep work you can listen to a little music, engage in a bit of critical thinking and ask students to create their own “essential” questions about how these summer music trends reflect upon our culture.

Below is a list of articles that highlight songs from past summers and predict this summer’s biggest hits.  Have students read or listen to several.  Then ask that they construct levels of questions for the best one.  The goal: identify big picture issues at stake when it comes to culture and the song of summer.

I’ve attached an easily modified Levels of Questions Model that uses the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as an example.  It’s an easy assignment to translate for any passage analysis, documentary film study, editorial, etc.  They simply need to have a model before they prepare their own level 1, 2, and 3 questions.

Articles: Songs of Summer

Articles fromNPR, The Washington Post, Vulture and Yahoo Music. 

Weekend Tech: Occupy Wall Street

While I considered using Weekend Tech to discuss Zanesville, Ohio and exotic animals, I decided against it.  It was too bizarre, and even though I laughed when NPR used “Pumped Up Kicks” as background music to discuss this story, I knew it was because I’m a bad person.  The Occupy Wall Street movement seemed like a more versatile idea, especially since The Onion had some incredibly humorous tweets this week.  Everything from infographics, to image analysis, The Onion to literature tie-ins is in store this weekend.  What more could you want? Aside from some appropriate background music of course.

Occupy Wall Street Infographic

Last year The Learning Network at The New York Times created a “starter” kit for using infographics in the classroom.  It’s a valuable resource if you’re not familiar with infographics or how to implement them.  What do I like about infographics?  Well they are everywhere.  Newspapers, magazines, even The Onion creates infographics in jest for public consumption.

The website Visual.ly is a vast resource for infographics.  The infographic titled, “The State of American Discontent” is a perfect supplement when discussing this movement.  It fills the role of media literacy and still teaches argument, purpose, tone, etc.  Amending the SOAPSTone format slightly here is useful because the same categories still apply.  Use it even as an argument analysis. Analysis could include: types of data presented, organization of the information, even images used to convey the data.

Occupy Wall Street to teach Image Analysis and Transcendentalism

I’ve posted before that The New Yorker has fantastic blog resources.  What caught my eye this week was the blog Photobooth.  The series of images taken of protesters at Zucotti Park is remarkable. What makes the “slideshow” thought provoking is that each protestor in the series is photographed alone.  Their cardboard signs are the central focus of each shot.  Representing a range of ages and occupations it’s a great way to practice some of the image analysis techniques we’ve previously posted about.  It’s also a great physical representation of Transcendenalist ideals, especially Emerson’s Self-Reliance and Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.