Campus News Society & Culture

UGA education professor’s books show how pop culture can enhance classroom learning

Athens, Ga. – Today’s students are awash in technological gadgetry such as iPods, cell phones and handheld video games, but this may not be such a bad thing for classroom learning, according to University of Georgia education professor Donna Alvermann.

“Classroom learning should not be confined to traditional texts,” said Alvermann, a Distinguished Research Professor in the College of Education’s department of language and literacy education.

Alvermann has recently published two books explaining just how teachers can use pop culture and digital media to connect adolescents with school-based learning and motivate their literary practices in and out of class.

Adolescents Online Literacies: Connecting Classrooms, Digital Media, & Popular Culture (Peter Lang Publishing, April 2010) is a compilation of work by teachers and researchers from across three continents focusing on ways to incorporate and use the digital literacies that young people bring to school.

The book makes connections between what the research literature portrays and what teachers, school librarians and media specialists know to be the case in their own situations.

Bring It to Class: Unpacking Pop Culture in Literacy Learning (Teachers College Press, May 2010), co-written with two College of Education alumnae – Margaret Hagood and Alison Heron Hruby-explores previously unexamined assumptions about the usefulness of pop culture in the classroom.

The book features a strong theoretical grounding and many practical examples. The authors speak to both skeptical instructors who favor traditional canonical literature and to technology enthusiasts who already use popular music or video in their classrooms.

Each chapter includes teacher, administrator, media specialist, librarian and student voices; classroom activities; adaptable lessons and professional study-group questions.

The book also features a researched rationale for using pop culture in middle school and secondary classrooms, as well as school libraries and media centers; field-tested teaching approaches that will connect adolescents with school-based learning and motivate their literacy practices in and out of class; and an easy-to-use format that includes classroom vignettes, sample lessons and a glossary of key terms.

Hagood (Ph.D., ’02) is an associate professor at the College of Charleston and Hruby (Ph.D., ’02), is an assistant professor at George Mason University.