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MoPOP’s Teacher Professional Development features workshops, tours, curriculum development, and networking opportunities. During this time, we’re focusing on ways we can provide resources for teachers and parents.


Here are some resources that may be useful for you:

Here are some discussion questions and activities from our Teacher professional development program, “Marvel: Super Heroes in the Classroom” led by classroom teachers and teaching artists Donte Felder and Naomi True, and professional comic book artist Jen Vaughn. This PD took place on November 10th, 2018. We also had another virtual Teacher PD with Donte on November 11th, 2020.

Teachers explored how Marvel comic books and films represent race and social inequities, and learned the basics of comic art. Looking at the stories in comics through a critical lens, facilitators led teachers through a variety of activities that explored some critical questions, used corollary materials for the purpose of literary analysis, and discussed the art form of comic books.

Example activities:

    • Discussion: Do Wolverine’s claws violate the Second Amendment of the United States?
    • Lyrical Analysis: Kendrick Lamar: What is the thesis from the song Black Panther?
    • Resources from Jen Vaughn: look for content and activities from Jen on this page soon!

Additional resources on comics in the classroom

  • Check out these activities from our Teacher PD, “Let’s Work: Bringing the Art & Activism of Prince into the Classroom” led by teaching artist Willie Adams. This PD took place on November 2, 2019. Teachers explored how Prince strategically used his music, image, and message to challenge traditional ideas of race, class, and gender in popular culture.

    Example activities:
    • Discussion: Looking at images from the Prince from Minneapolis exhibition at MoPOP, make note of the memories, emotions, and feelings that come to you as you view the exhibit.
      • How did Prince’s look throughout the years challenge traditional ideas of race, class, gender, and masculinity in popular culture?
      • What do the various looks and stylistic choices say about his journey as an artist?
      • What does Prince represent to you?
    • Literary Analysis Activity: Prince used his music to bring awareness to a myriad of important social, political, and human rights issues. Prince existed in a time where racism and classism limited the life and social mobility of his community. He used his music as a weapon to combat this injustice and uplift and empower oppressed communities everywhere.
      • Discussion: Listen to the songs and make note of how Prince uses imagery, allusion, simile, metaphor, and personification to deliver his message.
      • Art Activity: Then cut out or write down the most interesting phrases and lines from each song. Choose your top 8-10 lines or phrases and, like Prince, use imagery, allusion, simile, metaphor, and personification to write an original, complimentary line for each of the lines that you chose. Songs available on this Spotify Playlist.

Additional resources on music in the classroom:

Video games are a vital part of popular culture, and as we’re all currently stuck in quarantine, a lot of us have turned to video games to help pass the time and take our minds off the pandemic. But video games can also be a powerful tool for learning!

    • In our Indie Game Revolution exhibit we explore the most groundbreaking and creative work in contemporary video game culture. Featuring the stories of more than forty independent video game developers, designers, coders, composers, and critics, MoPOP presents a dynamic, immersive space inviting you to witness the present and future of gaming as it unfolds.
    • In Minecraft: The Exhibition MoPOP brings the virtual landscape of Minecraft to life through full-scale creatures, scenic backdrops, a day-night lighting cycle, dynamic audio effects, and a gallery score designed for players and non-players of all ages. 
      • Here’s a short video to give you an overview of how Minecraft can be an educational tool in your classroom and at home.
      • Minecraft Education has a ton of exciting challenges for your child or student! Engage their creativity and strengthen 21st century skills with these easy-to-implement activities for your home or classroom.
      • How do our digital lives connect to the real world? Here’s an activity to help you and your students think about how a game like Minecraft can change the world for good. 
      • Learn more about Minecraft as a teaching tool here.

Additional resources on comics in the classroom

MoPOP is filled with costumes from television and film. Costumes and fashion can tell us so much about a character, and can be a great tool for helping students understand character development, symbolism, design, and storytelling. 

    • Last year MoPOP hosted “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes” an exhibit that explored symbols of womanhood and challenged conventional notions of beauty. Click here to check out images from that exhibit, which used archetypes to help unpack our understanding of the visual symbolism of female identity. 
    • "Heroes and Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume” will be opening at MoPOP in June of 2021. This exhibition immerses visitors into the world of Disney, illustrating how our understanding of its iconic characters is shaped through the artistry and creativity of its costumes. Click here to check out images of those costumes.
    • Our “Fantasy: Worlds of Myth & Magic” and “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction” exhibitions feature inspiring costumes from beloved characters. See those costumes here!

Example activities:

    • Select a costume or piece of fashion from one of our exhibit galleries linked above, and ask students to examine the image and then respond to the following questions:
      • What do you notice about this clothing?
      • What feelings do you get when you look at this clothing?
      • What colors, textures, shapes, stylistic details do you see?
      • What are these clothes for? What is their purpose?
      • Who do you think would wear these clothes? Why?
    • Provide students with a section of written text (from a short story, poem, novel, non-fiction piece, etc.) and ask them to draw the clothing for a character described in the selection. Ask them to consider:
      • Function – what kinds of clothes does this character need to wear for their job, their time period, the weather, etc?
      • Form – what type of clothing would this character wear based on who they are, what their role is, where they live, what is happening in their scene?
    • Examine bias in costuming
      • Discuss a selection of costumes that clearly (or not so clearly) indicate villains and heroes.
      • Have students list the aspects or qualities of the costumes that seem good or evil / heroic or villainous.
      • Discuss how color, shape, symbolism, texture, material, etc. influence how they think about each costume.
        • What assumptions are they making about who’s wearing this costume?
        • How do gender, race, or ethnicity play into these assumptions? 
      • In groups, provide them with additional examples and have them go through a similar analytical process.
      • Assign them the task of designing a costume for a villain or hero that doesn’t conform to stereotypical choices (color, materials, etc.). 

Additional resources on comics in the classroom

Check out these activities from our Teacher PD, “Game to Grow: Using Tabletop Role-Playing Games in the Remote Classroom” led by Adam Davis. This PD took place on January 23, 2021. Tabletop role-playing games are a great support not only for educational and academic outcomes, but also help students build social and emotional skills through authentic relational play. This tool is especially helpful for neurodivergent youth, as it recognizes and respects unconventional and creative expression, and builds community inside and outside of the classroom.

Check out these activities from our Teacher PD, “Foley: Using STEAM in Sound” led by Gin Hammond. This PD took place on March 20, 2021. Creating real-time sounds with students can enhance language arts, math, science, and many other subject areas.

Example activities:

  • The Legend of Baron Maruchan Ramen: All of the sound effects in this story were created with a single packet of Ramen. This Sound of the Week focuses on illustrating just how many different sounds you can create from simple objects that you find around the house.
  • External computer speaker activity: Demonstrates flow of electricity through one or many bodies. Using the computer speaker jack, test several fruits, one of them dried, to check for noisiness, as well as a couple of other objects. Hold the speaker jack to the fruit and see what sounds it creates! Anticipate six or more objects near you, including fruit, which you anticipate will make noise; i.e. which will be conductive and which will insulate? Which do you think will be the loudest or quietest? Now test by touching the objects and report findings to your group. 

Additional resources on foley and sound effects in the classroom

In partnership with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) we offered a PD in connection with our exhibition, Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement. We explored frameworks for students to examine how LGBTQIA+ characters are represented in films, TV, literature, and more. This PD took place on May 15, 2021 and was led by Rachael Bernadino.

Here are some guidelines to help your lesson planning

  • Brainstorming/Designing
    • Will you need prior approval from any level of administration or within the community you want to connect to your classroom?
    • How will your subjectivities and positionality impact your work and understanding with this topic?
  • Research and Material Collection
    • Ensure you have permission to access and use the data. Be mindful of privacy settings, intentions, and other mitigating circumstances that may affect the public availability.
    • The pop culture artifacts you collect digitally and/or physically are indicative of people’s values, experiences, and realities. They should always be treated with respect and integrity.

  • Planning
    • Commit to cultural pluralism. How can you fill in your gaps without placating or marginalizing people?
    • Engage in reflexive practice. Check your subjectivities and positionality in relation to your topic often.
    • What are the implications of the conclusions you draw within your lesson? What do they say about the people/communities/contexts the artifacts come from?

  • Critical Lens
    • What hidden curriculum is in your lesson? Do any of them reinforce stereotypes or disregard systems of power?
    • How will sharing this lesson affect students that may have a connection to this artifact?
    • How will it affect students that don’t have any connection to the artifact? Are these positive or negative outcomes?
    • Can you make this lesson and information publicly available in a useful, collaborative, or hopeful way or will your representation distort, misguide, or obscure the nature of this particular artifact?

  • Ethical Considerations
    • Be mindful of the space between the real, multifaceted people and the character (literally or metaphorically) they are co-constructing.
    • Remember, participation in one’s oppression necessitates oppression in the first place.
    • Respect, understand, and follow the communities guidelines to gain access to the people and/or artifacts.
    • Some groups may control outsider’s access to certain amounts or types of data and collaborate in presenting your findings.
    • Research and writing on experience of those with whom you do not share subjective experience can (and should) cause you to be cautious.
    • A liberated analysis requires cultural intuition and community knowledge. It’s easy to mess up if you don’t have experience.

Additional resources on LGBTQIA+ representation in the classroom