POP!…goes the classroom of the 21st Century

You are a student. Imagine sitting in rows facing the whiteboard. Your English teacher walks in the door and gives the class a ten minute lecture about how William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet encompasses the key themes of fate, love and violence. You then spend the rest of the lesson handwriting the notes from the whiteboard. This is what I experienced when I was at school. Pretty boring! I spent most of this time looking out of the window at the students who were lucky enough to have a Physical Education lesson. I was envious of the games they would be playing and wished to be outside with them. It is now a number of years later and my own English and History classroom looks dramatically different to the one I just described. I am a 21st Century teacher!

Vintage Social Networking
Vintage Social Networkig

Atkinson, J. (n.d.) Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved 11th October 2014 from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/06/awesome-graphic-on-traditional-vs.html.


Digital native student embraces new practices, their bemused teacher merely contemplates an unfamiliar and hostile digital world (Crook, 2012, p. 65)… not anymore! Every 21st Century teachers knows that to engage young people today they must incorporate popular culture (whether they understand it or not) and technology (whether they know how to use it or not) into their classroom. Now this task may seem overwhelming however, it can be as simple as mentioning Justice Bieber…

As an English and History teacher I am going to focus on how to integrate popular culture into these key learning areas (KLAs). There are so many ways that teachers can engage their student by using popular culture. For example, popular culture songs (despite some of the content) are filled with an array of literary devices. Take Katy Perry’s song Firework for example.

Now would this not be more engaging for your students rather than just answering questions from the Poetry Power textbook? Similarly, popular television programs, movies and songs can be used as a tool by History teachers to make connections with the content.

These strategies are highly effective in engaging students in the content but are also relatively simple for teachers to implement.


Students of the 21st Century clearly learn in different ways than my generation. It is unfortunate that the current curriculum in most schools is disconnected from their lives (Hall, 2007, p. 297; Beach, 2011, p. 779). Nevertheless, teachers have the power to change the way that they teach the curriculum to students. That is, using popular culture texts and online media spaces as a form of pedagogy that goes beyond what students acquire from the official school curriculum (Beach, 2011, p. 775). Teachers, we have the power to change pedagogical practices in Australia!


Digital learners require 21st Century teachers. Teachers that understand how their students learn and how best to teach them. Popular culture and technology is the obvious solution. If we want to engage our students, develop their critical literacy skills and prepare them for the world in which they live than teachers must take action. I am a 21st Century teacher. Are you?



Beach, R. & O’Brien, D. (2008). Chapter 27: Teaching Popular-Culture Texts In The Classroom. In Coiro, Julie et al, Handbook of research on new literacies, (pp.775 – 804). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Crook, C. (2012). The ‘digital native’ in context: Tensions associated with importing Web 2.0 practices into the school setting. Oxford Review of Education. 38(1), 63-80.

Emerson, A. (2007). Teaching world History through Popular Culture. Retrieved 20th October 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jba5HsWDsA.

Hall, L. (2011). How popular culture texts inform and shape students’ discussions of social studies texts. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 55(4), 296-305.

Kravitz, M. (2013). Pop Culture in the classroom. Retrieved 20th October 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFJeps9T8A4

Lizs, H. (2010). Katy Perry Firework literary devices 1. Retrieved 29th October 2014 from Kravitz, M. (2013). Pop Culture in the classroom. Retrieved 20th October 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFJeps9T8A4


A Rubik’s Cube of Literacy

Rubik’s Cube
Scott, W. (2014). What is the Rubik’s Cube speed record? Retrieved 30th Septmber 2014 from http://parade.condenast.com/281345/walterscott/whats-the-rubiks-cube-speed-record-plus-enter-for-a-chance-to-win-a-rubiks-cube/.

Scott, W. (2014). What is the Rubik’s Cube speed record? Retrieved 5th October 2014 from http://parade.condenast.com/281345/walterscott/whats-the-rubiks-cube-speed-record-plus-enter-for-a-chance-to-win-a-rubiks-cube/.

As discussed in my first blog post, I was flabbergasted when I realised that as a teacher I not only have to teach traditional literacy to my students but also the new literacies involved when interacting with the digital world. Not being a ‘digital native’ myself I was shocked at how far behind on the eight ball I was in relation to significant changes in both education and society. This sparked my quest to become a teacher of the 21st Century. That is, a teacher who is informed with the changes in technology, embraces popular culture (both the good and the bad) and implements innovative lessons that promote 21st Century skills in which students will need outside of the school environment in the big wide world.


What are the literacy skills required by students in the 21st Century? This short clip is sure to enlighten you!

If you have been regularly following my blog you will already know that I have discovered some wonderful innovative technologies that allow teachers to incorporate popular culture into the classroom, such as the use of video games, mobile phones and ereaders. It is every teachers responsibility to engage students with the content in which they are learning. Educating is our core business! As as society changes so does the learning styles of young people. For teachers this means we must come up with new ways of teaching…as if teaching is not challenging enough without having to update our teaching skills! But yes, if we want our students to be successful in school and in their own lives we must forget our ‘old school’ ways of teaching and teach the new literacy of the future.


21st Century literacy is complex. It involves new critical thinking skills and weird and wonderful technologies. But what encourages youth to engage with popular culture and technology? According to Ito, Baumer, Bittanti, Boyd, Cody, Stephenson, Horst, Lange, Mahendran, Martinez, Pascoe, Perkel, Robinson, Sims & Tripp (2010, p. 1) youth engage with new media to form their identity but do so within the context for self-expression, communication, friendship and play. What I find interesting about this statement is the concept of play. Play in education? It was never heard of when I was at school! However, changes in technology allow for learning through play in a social setting (Ito. et al., 2010, p. 340). Play based learning fosters ownership of the content to the student rater than the teacher. It also caters for diversity and inclusivity. There has been a significant shift in literacy from an individual standpoint to one of communal learning. Literacy skills of the 21st Century now include:

  • Collaboration,
  • Networking,
  • Technical skills,
  • Critical analysing online media,
  • Simulating,
  • Collecting,
  • Navigate,
  • Evaluating
  • And of course…play (Jenkins. et al., 2006, p. 4).

The challenge for teachers is to make connections to the traditional content that we teach with popular culture so that the youth of today can transfer theses learning experiences beyond the classroom.


Teachers are you up for this challenge? Developing social skills and cultural competencies is everyone’s businesses in preparing young people to go into the ever-changing digital world (Jenkins. et al., 2006, p. 17). I have already begun to take up this challenge in my classroom. I recognise that I have a long way to go to be highly accomplished in this area. This is okay with me. I embrace life long learning and aspire to be the best teacher I can. I say embrace your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. I too will become a digital native!



Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Cody, R., Stephenson, B., Horst, H., Lange, P., Mahendran, D., Martinez, K., Pascoe, C., Perkel, D., Robinson L., Sims, C. & Tripp, L. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. The MIT Press. http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11889&mode=toc


Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A. & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: media education for the 21st century. MacArthur Foundation. http://digitallearning.macfound.org/site/c.enJLKQNlFiG/b.2108773/apps/nl/content2.asp?content_id={CD911571-0240-4714-A93B-1D0C07C7B6C1}¬oc=1


Teknolojuleri, B. (2013). 21st Century Skills. Retrieved 19th October 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwJIhZcAd0I


Kids these days…what is popular with the youth of 2014

 2013-2014 Popular Culture Inforgraphic
pop culture infographic

O’Reilly, G. (2014). Epic Infographic of the Year’s Standout Moments. Retrieved 23rd August 2014 from http://www.her.ie/entertainment/pic-heres-to-2013-epic-infographic-details-the-years-standout-moments/.

From social media tools, technology, music, film, television, novels and celebrities, what ‘kids these days’ find entertaining differs greatly. Oh, how times have changed! What was popular when I was young is very, very different in 2014. If I am honest I will never understand the appeal of some of these trends, such as twerking and the Call of Duty computer game. However, there are aspects of today’s popular culture that I do find just as enjoyable as young people, such as the scandalous reality television programs and The Hunger Games trilogy. After speaking to my Year 10 History class they informed me what is popular with them today. From this insightful discussion I have created a Pinterest page.

What is social about reading?

As my journey to learn more about popular culture and new trends in education continues I have discovered a new pedagogical concept called social reading. Reading does not have to be solitary anymore with technologies, such as the Kindle, eReader, iPad and iPhone transforming the way youth read. That is, with electronic readers ebooks are more prevalent than ever and allow for students to interact with each other and the text. Back in the day when I was at high school this concept did not even exist! In my classes reading was an individual activity. The only time it became social was when the teacher required us to read a section of the text aloud to the class. How times have changed! The new phenomenon of social reading offers an innovative way for teachers to collaboratively engage their students with reading.


Kogan. (2014). iPads- computers and tablets. Retrieved 14th September 2014 from http://www.kogan.com/au/shop/tablets-laptops/ipad/.

In light of this I have realised that in a way I already implement social reading into my classroom, just without the use of an eReader. The strategy that I implement is called guided reading. This pedagogy requires students to be in small groups of similar reading ability and they take in turns reading aloud a section of the text. The idea is that students are in a safe environment where they support each other in their reading group. This allows the teacher to move between groups to provide support. However, after learning about social reading I feel that there is a more effective way that I can implement reading in my classroom that also engages higher order thinking. That is, social reading.

Image 1 and 2: Annotation abilities of eReaders

Quote. (n.d). Let’s call it “Social Reading”. Retrieved 14th September 2014 from http://blog.quote.fm/2012/02/20/lets-call-it-social-reading/.

social reading

Etherington, D. (2009). BookGlutton: Get beyond the page with social reading. Retrieved 14th September 2014 from http://gigaom.com/2009/01/29/bookglutton-get-beyond-the-page-with-social-reading/.










Ebooks are the new black. Zickhur, Rainie, Purcell, Madden & Brenner (2012) declare that youth are using technology more to read ebooks rather than the tradition paperback book. Ebooks encourage social reading because they allow students to highlight and share interesting information via email, Facebook or Twitter (Moore, 2012, paragraph 4). From this students can have a collaborative discussion. Importantly, the skills gained from social reading develop self-efficacy. Successful social readers are able to manage texts that often change from one day to the next with patience, persistence and flexibility; with this confidence in engaging with offline texts is developed (Coiro, 2012, p. 645). To support the notion of social reading online websites have been developed that allow people to share their favorite books with one another. My favorite sites are: Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing.

Gallery of Social Reading Sites


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With social reading and Internet sites, such as Goodreads now in my teaching arsenal I now have two powerful learning tools to develop the literacy skills of my students. Not only traditional literacy but also the new literacy of the ‘digital native’. 21st Century learners are expected to be adaptable, imaginative and self-directed (Coiro, 2012, p. 645). These skills are what I aspire to develop in my students. We are living in a digital world and I am becoming a digital girl!



Coiro, J. (2012). Understanding dispositions toward reading on the internet. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 55(7), 645-648.

Moore, D. (2012, July 29). Social reading: Fad or future?. Post on Darcy Moore’s Blog. http://darcymoore.net/2012/07/29/social-reading-fad-or-future/.

Zickhur, K., Rainie, L., Purcell, K. Madden, M. & Brenner, J. (2012, June 22). Libraries, patrons and e-books – summary of findings. PEW Internet. http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/06/22/libraries-patrons-and-e-books/.

There is no place for mobile phones in schools!

There will be no more gizmos in this class!

At my school mobile phones are not banned. Instead, students are allowed to bring them to school and use them during break times. However, in the classroom it is a different story, mobile phones need to stay inside the student’s pocket or bag. In spite of this very clear expectation I regularly catch students texting or playing games on their mobile phone in class. For example, last week during my Year 10 English class I confiscated three mobile phones during the one lesson. Yes, three! What is it about mobile phones that students cannot resist the urge to wait 60 minutes once the lesson is over to use them? Is school policy and the way that teachers are teaching the issue or is it the inability of students to be ‘disconnected’ from technology for a short period of time? I decided that the problem definitely remind with the students.

“We call your bluff, teach us using the own knowledge from your head.” (Nelson Muntz. (2010). The Simpsons: Bart gets a ‘Z’. Episode 21).


Wikia. (n.d). Simpsons Wiki: Nelson Muntz. Retrieved 10th September 2014 from http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Nelson_Muntz.

Nelson Muntz (Simpsons Character)

Okay, you have called my bluff! Of course I believe that the issue is with school policy and current teaching pedagogy. As a 21st Century teacher who now understands the importance of incorporating popular culture into the classroom I have begun to allow students to use mobile phones in my classroom. Remember, I am a learner myself so I have been taking baby steps. For instance, I allow students to use the camera on their mobile phone to take a photo of the content written on the whiteboard so that they can refer to it at a later date. I also allow students to use their mobile phone to search the internet when researching is required, if their laptop is flat or they have forgotten it. However, is there more that I can do with this technology in the classroom?

Students want access to information, technology… and their phones!

The answer to the above question is obviously yes! “Mobile phones are easily adaptable to the classroom and help teachers engage students in their learning without competing with the core skills that education values” (Derby, 2011, p. 100). Learning no longer needs to be static and rigid, with the use of mobile phones it can be flexible and dynamic. Incorporating mobile phones into the classroom integrates both informal and formal learning (Cook, Pachler, & Bachmair, 2011, p. 181). There are numerous ways that a teacher can use mobile phones in their classroom, such as:

  • texting to brainstorm ideas;
  • watch informative YouTube clips or even TED Talks;
  • use Google Docs to collaboratively edit a piece of text and;
  • can be used to read ebooks during silent reading time.

For more ideas on how to incorporate mobile phones into your classroom visit 44 Smart Ways to use Smartphones in class.

Students demand to be ‘plugged in’ and to work in an engaging collaborative manner

Unmistakably, mobile phones can have a positive impact in the classroom. They are a tool that can be used to engage the disengaged student. I am no longer sceptical about the use of mobile phones in the classroom and intend to change the trend in my school by using them in more creative ways. Of course my students will still be working with pen and paper, however, I will use mobile phones in conjunction with this to achieve the best possible learning outcomes. Finally, I would like to share the video that inspired me to write this post, I hope you find it just as beneficial to your teaching practice as I have.


Image Gallery of The Evolution of the Mobile Phone in Education

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Cook, J., Pachler, N. & Bachmair, B. (2011). Ubiquitous mobility with mobile phones: A cultural ecology for mobile learning. E-Learning and Digital Media 8(3), 181-195.

Derby, B. (2011). Creativity in my pocket: No ‘I’ puns here. English in Australia 46 (3).

Battle of the Decades: The 90’s vs. Now

The 90’s vs. Now

If you have not realised by now, I am a 90’s child. I still remember all the things that were popular when I was growing up. I would listen to the Spice Girls on my discman; watch television programs, such as Seinfeld and Friends; and play with my Furbie. Popular culture has certainly changed today! An interview that I conducted with one of my female year 9 students about popular culture today was certainly eye opening. In stark contrast to what was popular during the 90’s, popular culture today has rapidly advanced. The popular culture of today is based heavily on technology with social media tools, such as Snapchat and Tumblr (both of which I am yet to experience); reality television is at its peak, and music has more sexual innuendos than I can count. I have to admit that there are some aspects of today’s popular culture that are not my cup of tea. For example, the appeal of the popularity of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. On the other hand, I do enjoy reality television and the literature, particularly The Hunger Games. In the debate of which decade is better I am obviously bias towards 90’s. However, I cannot dismiss the significance of today’s popular culture in the lives of young people just because I do not relate to it.

Image 1: The Spice Girls (90’s Girlband) Image 2: Miley Cyrus (2014 Pop Music Icon)
Trini, T. (2012). Way Back Wednesday: The Spice Girls. Retrieved 29th August 2014 from http://thelavalizard.com/2012/12/way-back-wednesday-the-spice-girls/.

Trini, T. (2012). Way Back Wednesday: The Spice Girls. Retrieved 29th August 2014 from http://thelavalizard.com/2012/12/way-back-wednesday-the-spice-girls/

Gordon, N. (2013). Miley Cyrus and her tradmark tongue pose. Retrieved 29th Aigust 2014 from http://www.digitalspy.com.au/showbiz/news/a510267/miley-cyrus-and-her-trademark-tongue-pose-through-the-years.html#~oOjH9yBxNOU26D

Gordon, N. (2013). Miley Cyrus and her tradmark tongue pose. Retrieved 29th August 2014 from http://www.digitalspy.com.au/showbiz/news/a510267/miley-cyrus-and-her-trademark-tongue-pose-through-the-years.html#~oOjH9yBxNOU26














My Revelations

I need to become more active in my own engagement of what is “in” with my students. How can I possibly expect to relate to them in the classroom if I do not understand what “TOTS” means or which celebrities are “hot or not”? Yes, it means I must come out from under the rock that I have been living and embrace the popular culture of today and all that it entails…Twerking and all! Since starting study of the unit Youth, Popular Culture and Texts I have become more attuned to my students and their needs in the classroom. From my interview with Student X I learned new things that I did not know before. For example, I now know who Ariana Grande and Iggy Azaeal are. I also have realised how engrossed young people are with technology and social media. I would have thought that having one social media account of each networking site would be enough. Obviously I am wrong! Young people today have multiple social networking accounts. These revaluations have pushed me to be curious as to how can I better relate to my students in the classroom.

Image 1: Friends (90’s Television Program) Image 2: Keeping up with the Kardashians (2014 Reality Television Program)
Raeside, J. (2011). Friends comes to an end on E4. Retrieved 29th August 2014 from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/sep/04/friends-comes-to-end-e4

Raeside, J. (2011). Friends comes to an end on E4. Retrieved 29th August 2014 from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/sep/04/friends-comes-to-end-e4.

Ritchie. K. (2012). E!’s Keeping up with the Kardashians. Retrieved 2nd September 2014 from http://realscreen.com/2012/04/09/es-keeping-up-with-the-kardashians-to-return-in-may/.

Ritchie. K. (2012). E!’s Keeping up with the Kardashians. Retrieved 2nd September 2014 from http://realscreen.com/2012/04/09/es-keeping-up-with-the-kardashians-to-return-in-may/










The Facts

Students of the 21st Century are empowered to express themselves with technology more than they have ever been before. They are regular producers of online texts which are a form of self-expression (Dowdall, 2009, p. 57). This text production has become somewhat of a recreational activity that is expected by their peers. Specifically, young people engage with social media in the following ways:

  • 68% have a Facebook account;
  • 52% visit social networking sites daily;
  • 11% send and receive Tweets at least once a day;
  • And 34% visit their main social networking site several times a day (Common Sense Media, 2012).

These findings are reliable as they reflect the ways in which Student X engaged with her social networking sites. It seems that technology and the constant need to communicate is engrained in the daily lives of young people today.

Image 1: Mobile Phone from the 90’s Image 2: Smart Phones of 2014
Wikimedia Commons. (2011). Nokia 6100. Retrieved 29th August 2014 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia_6100.jpg

Wikimedia Commons. (2011). Nokia 6100. Retrieved 29th August 2014 from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nokia_6100.jpg

Battery News. (2013). Make your smartphone batter last longer. Retrieved 14th September 2014 from http://www.batterynews.org/2013/12/29/make-your-smartphone-battery-last-longer/.

Battery News. (2013). Make your smartphone batter last longer. Retrieved 14th September 2014 from http://www.batterynews.org/2013/12/29/make-your-smartphone-battery-last-longer/.













What does this mean for 21st Century teachers?

As a teacher of English and History I have found it difficult to engage students with content in which they cannot relate. I have lost count at how many times I have had to field the question: “Why do we have to learn about Shakespeare? He died over 400 years ago!” I often reply by highlighting the universal themes within Shakespeare’s plays and state that they can learn so much from a man who lived centuries ago. With my new understanding of popular culture as my weapon I intend to change the way I teach. Relating the curriculum content to popular culture is the key to improving the educational outcomes of my students. In light of this I have created two resource pages that are dedicated to incorporating popular culture into English and History classrooms.



Common Sense Media. (2012). Social media, social life: How teens view their digital lives http://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/social-media-social-life (46 pages total; Key Findings pp. 9-12).

Dowdall, Clare. (2009). Chapter 3: Masters and Critics : Children as Producers of Online Digital Texts. In Carrington, Victoria and Robinson, Muriel, Digital literacies : social learning and classroom practices, (pp.43 – 61). Los Angeles: SAGE.





Out with the old, in with the new: Textbooks vs. Video games

Apparently teaching content to students through a textbook is ‘so yesterday’. As my quest to become more aware of popular culture progresses, I have discovered a fantastic new technology that can be incorporated into the classroom. What is this new educational tool that I have stumbled across? It is none other than a video game…..Minecraft EDU! Personally, I have never been interested in video games. In my lifetime I have only every played two video games, ‘Super Mario’ and ‘Donkey Kong’. Yes, this may seem strange to some people, however, I prefer other forms of popular culture, such as reality television and music (from the 90’s of course!). When I came across Minecraft EDU I was extremely interested to learn how it could improve the learning outcomes of my students.

 Minecraft Video Game
Dunn, J. (2013). Minecraft in Education: Pros and Cons, Retrieved 30th August 2014 from http://www.edudemic.com/minecraft-in-education-pros-and-cons/.

Dunn, J. (2013). Minecraft in Education: Pros and Cons, Retrieved 26th August 2014 from http://www.edudemic.com/minecraft-in-education-pros-and-cons/.

In my professional career I have not seen computer games used in the classroom for educational purposes. Perhaps the schools that I have been employed at have not embraced this new form of pedagogy or simply have not realised the educational benefits that video games can offer. As I was researching more about how video games are more engaging than the average textbook I came across a short video clip that explained the benefits that Minecraft EDU can have in the classroom.

I was fascinated at how diverse Minecraft EDU can be! It is an educational tool that can be utilised in a variety of Key Learning Areas (KLAs), such as Physics, Math, Civics and World History. As a History teacher, I am very excited at the prospect of incorporating Minecraft EDU into my classroom. With this in mind I started to reflect on all of the lessons that I have taught where I could have used Minecraft EDU as a teaching tool. For example, this term my Year 7 class has been studying Ancient China. During the first lesson the students examined the reasons why civilizations, such as Ancient China settled where they had and what physical features were needed to survive. If I could teach this lesson again I would use Minecraft EDU to set up a scenario where students could actively create their own civilization instead of analysing a map of the physical features of Ancient China.

Inside the Minecraft Game                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Students learning with Minecraft
Staff, E. (2012). Minecraft in the classroom. Retrieved 30th August 2014 from http://www.edge-online.com/features/minecraft-in-the-classroom/.

Staff, E. (2012). Minecraft in the classroom. Retrieved 26th August 2014 from http://www.edge-online.com/features/minecraft-in-the-classroom/.

Staff, E. (2012). Minecraft in the classroom. Retrieved 30th August 2014 from http://www.edge-online.com/features/minecraft-in-the-classroom/.

Staff, E. (2012). Minecraft in the classroom. Retrieved 26th August 2014 from http://www.edge-online.com/features/minecraft-in-the-classroom/.










Contrary to the belief that video games provide little capacity for independent thought and are turning youths into zombies, they are in fact engaging. They provide rich learning experiences for students. According to Gallaway (2009) and Apperley & Beavis (2011, p. 72-74) video games develop both intellectual and social skills including:

  • Visual literacy,
  • Formulating conclusions,
  • Problem solving,
  • Hypothesising,
  • Experimenting,
  • Evaluating (Gallaway, 2009);
  • Collaboration,
  • and Team building (Apperley & Beavis, 2011, p. 72-74).

Compared to a textbook, video games such as Minecraft EDU are fantastic educational tools that allow students to take risks in a safe environment because scaffolding for success is built into the game. Minecarft EDU also provides differentiated learning experiences. That is, when youth play video games they negotiate their own interpretation of the content, thus, no two learning experiences of the game are the same (Bradford, 2009, p. 54). Upon further research on how Minecraft EDU can be implement into the classroom I found a case study of a teacher in the United States named Joel. He has had success in implementing Minecraft EDU into his classroom with positive outcomes. After viewing this clip, do you believe that video games are turning our youth into passive zombies?


To be a teacher in the 21st Century is a very exciting time. There are so many new educational tools that can be implemented into the classroom. Video games engage students and offer rich learning experiences (Gee, 2011). Teachers need to understand that video games are resources that support educational outcomes and should consider implementing this form of popular culture into the classroom (Williams, 2009,p. 40). Hence, out with the old tattered textbook and in with the new form of pedagogy…video games! My teaching journey will now involve advocating for video games in my classroom. This will be a challenge to change the mindset of some members within my school community. However, if I provide my Principal with evidence of improved engagement and learning outcomes than I am confident that eventually a culture shift within the school is possible.



Apperley, T. & Beavis, C. (2011). Literacy into action: Digital games as action and text in the English and literacy classroom. Pedagogies: An International Journal. 6(2), 130-143.

Bradford, C. (2010). Looking for my corpse: Video games and player positioning. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 33(1), 54- 64.

Galloway, B. (2009). Welcome to the Librarian’s Guide to Gaming! Retrieved 30th August 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1NHI-Z9j4g.

Gee, J. (2011). Digital Media: New learners of the 21st Century. Retrieved 30th August 2014 from http://video.pbs.org/video/1767377460/.

PBS Idea Channel. (2013). Is Mindcraft the Ultimate Educational tool? Retrieved 30th August 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI0BN5AWOe8&index=4&list=PLI0i1tgORVPWDH6FM1fYE6S51hg83slqn.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. (2012). Teaching with Games: GLPC Case Study: Joel. Retrieved 30th August 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mTf3j2koJA.

Williamson, B. (2009). Computer games, schools and young people: A report for educators on using games for learning. Futurelab, UK. http://archive.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/project_reports/becta/Games_and_Learning_educators_report.pdf.

Flabbergasted….There is a ‘new literacy’?

When I first started my teaching career in 2011 I had little idea that the ways in which students would learn could evolve so quickly. Recently I became familiar with the concept of ‘new literacies’ in education. These new literacy skills have become essential in the digital world in which adolescents are engaged with everyday. Even though I am in my mid-20s I feel overwhelmed with the rapid changes in technology. I feel like I am an ‘old fogey’ in the sense that I am behind with the changes that have occurred with technology. How could I be so far behind in my knowledge in this area? Have I been reminiscing about living in the wonderful 90’s for so long that I have missed a significant shift in adolescent popular culture?


Education Gap

Phillips, L. (2012). Doe in the headlights. Retrieved 21st August 2014 from http://lizphillipsteaches.wordpress.com/tag/digital-literacy/.


Fortunately for me, as I was completing the readings for Learning Pack C I stumbled upon a journal article by Leu, McVerry, O’Byrne, Kiili , Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopard, Kenned & Forzani: The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. This article made me realise that if I am to be the best teacher I could be for my students I need to be aware of their needs in the classroom. New literacies of the Internet and other ICTs have become an important determinant of an engaged life in an online age (International Reading Association, 2009; National Council of Teaching and Education, 2008 cited in Leu, McVerry, O’Byrne, Kiili, Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopard, Kenned & Forzani, 2011, p. 5). After reading this article I stopped to consider if I was adequately teaching my students the skills that they need in modern society- a digital society. In the midst of this epiphany I realised that I need to develop my own digital literacy skills in order to improve my teaching practice.


According to Leu, et al (2011, p. 6) literacy is now:

  1. Deictic: the nature and meaning of texts continues to change with the contexts;
  2. And online information requires additional comprehension reading skills.

It would seem that to be literate in the 21 Century not only requires being able to read and write but also involves being able to use a combination of ICT and social media tools, such as blogs, wikis, search engines, Facebook and imovie (Leu, et al, 2011, p. 6). I find this concept daunting, as I am unfamiliar with most of these tools. It may be difficult to believe but this is actually my first ever blog post…I have obviously been living under a rock!


In light of the insight that I have gained from this reading I have decided to overcome my resistance that I have had with technology in education. Instead I am going to embrace it.

“To be literate tomorrow will be determined by even newer technology that have yet to appear” (Leu, D. et al, 2011, p. 6).

As an educator I must embrace popular culture and start to incorporate it in my classroom. In order to do this I must stay informed with changes in technological development in education by reading literature, such as the Horizon Report and incorporating web tools into my teaching. This will ensure that I stay connected with my students and assist them in becoming literate in the 21st Century. Thus, the onus is on me to bring my teaching into the 21st Century.

 Web Tools to use in the classroom

Wilde, R. (2012). Web 2.0 Tools for Vocational Training. Retrieved 21st August 2014 from http://web2tools4learning.blogspot.com.au/.



Leu, McVerry, O’Byrne, Kiili , Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopard, Kenned & Forzani. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 55(1), 5-14.