By glancing at some of my previous blog posts I think it is hard to glean the fact that I am actually an Early Years/KS1 educator who has been teaching Year 2 for nearly five years. A lot of my blog posts have reflected theory and practice in terms of ‘education’ and not ‘classroom.’ My last blog post suggested I was going to change this and aim to have a mix of theory, practice and classroom ideas. This blog post is primarily about classroom ideas and integrating popular culture into the overarching theme of a classroom. This is primarily drawn from work by Elaine Millard and Anne Haas Dyson who have written extensively about popular culture (and the lack of it) in many education systems. More recently I have been drawing ideas from the work of the amazing Jackie Marsh who I saw speak about playful pedagogies and popular culture at the UKLA Conference in Chester.

Copyright Walt Disney Company(Image Copyright Disney 2009)

Popular Culture is something I have always wanted to integrate into my classroom. I have approached this in various ways during my time in the classroom. Primarily I focused on deep integration of popular culture through themes and digital technologies in projects. I have also tied together units of work under the banner of topics. I will write about these over the coming months but I want to write today about another way I spread themes of popular culture across the whole year. This approach is probably more relevant to Early Years and Key Stage 1 classrooms but can be adapted to Key Stage 2 classrooms too.

Thematic Contexts

During my visit to a Disney theme park in 2010 I realised that every time I had visited a Disney Park there was some sort of year-long ‘celebration’ happening. I realised that in the current state of education we don’t celebrate a great deal (well I always had within my classroom) so thought about developing this idea. Last year I developed a ‘Dream’s context where the children celebrated their dreams for the future, this linked primarily with a project we were involved in linked to Enterprise and living healthy and productive lifestyles. We transformed our messy cloakroom into a ‘Theatre of Dreams’ and linked other areas of curricula subjects to dreams:

  • Dreams of the Future – Linked to enterprise and how to realise your dreams for the future
  • Dreams of Imagination – Linked to story writing and using our imaginations
  • Dreams of Christmas – Seasonal obviously but linked to the creation of our school production
  • Dreams of Power – Linked specifically to exploring characterisation of villains in literature
  • Dreams Together – Exploring PSHCE and working together

These are just a few of the areas we tied together. Of course if areas didn’t fit we didn’t link them and taught them separately but I did feel the overall theme made the children more excited about their learning. We were also able to learn a class tune for the theme. In this case Just Like We Dreamed It.

What will you celebrate?

This year I am developing a new thematic context linked to the events of 2012. As a school we are choosing to acknowledge the Golden Jubilee and London 2012 Olympic Games which are huge causes for celebration. Of course there are so many other things we celebrate in Early Years Classrooms – getting new pets, new siblings being born, losing a tooth, birthdays and many other things that really matter to young children. After seeing the clip below (again Disney Parks) I thought that the theme of ‘What will you celebrate?’ would be a good one to explore within my classroom.

I do like this idea as I think it really has mileage and will also inspire the children in my class. There is so much to celebrate, and I think we sometimes forget this at times. I will post more as I develop this theme!