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.
Our teaching philosophy at MoPOP is that we:
- Use pop culture in the classroom to discuss issues relevant to students
- Engage students interactively
- Encourage critical thinking and collaboration among students
- Facilitate content strategies so that all content is equitable and accessible for all types of learners
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.
- 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
- From Pop Culture Classroom, Cartoons that Spark Social Justice Conversations & Learning
- From Scholastic: A Guide to Using Graphic Novels With Children and Teens — A useful guide on how graphic novels can fit into your library collection, curriculum, and classroom, including how they promote literacy and are beneficial for ELL students. Also includes a resource list of books and links.
- From Harvard Graduate School of Education: Comics in the Classroom — Personal account and advice from a classroom teacher using comics in their classroom.
- From the New York Times: From Superheroes to Syrian Refugees: Teaching Comics and Graphic Novels With Resources From The New York Times — A compilation of all the NYT resources and articles about teaching with comic books. Includes lesson plans.
- From Pop Culture Classrooms: Graphic Novel Teaching Guides — Downloadable graphic novels you can use with your students.
- This printable comic book for kids explores Coronavirus!
- 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.
- 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:
- TeachRock has distance learning lesson plans and resources.
- Carnegie Hall’s Musical Explorers program has lessons on gobal music genres and cultural traditions.
- A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Songs With Your Kids
- This free pandemic eBook has information about COVID-19 and includes a “Create your own Hand-washing Lyrics” activity
- Connect with a music teacher, who leads virtual songwriting classes!
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
- From the Washington Post: “With coronavirus closing schools, here’s how video games are helping teachers”- A look at how video games can enhance remote learning.
- From CNET: “15 educational video games for kids in quarantine (that are actually fun)”- a deep dive into specific video game recommendations that will help kids learn.
- From Edutopia: “Video Games in the STEM Classroom” – A teacher describes how he came to accept his students' passion for video games and channel some popular games into his STEM curriculum.
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!
- 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
- From the New York Times: Teaching with “Fashion vs. Art”- This includes a 6-minute film exploring fashion vs. art, and discussion questions to get students thinking critically.
- From Education Week: Addressing Cultural Appropriation in the Classroom: Tools and Resources. This a great tool for exploring the fine line between appreciation and appropriation with students.
- From STEMRead: Quarantine Costume Design- A lesson plan for 6-12th graders
We have an upcoming Virtual Teacher Professional Development, “Game to Grow: Using Tabletop Role-Playing Games in the Remote Classroom.” 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.
Workshop participants will learn the basic structure and elements of a tabletop role-playing game, how they can support social emotional learning goals, and how roleplaying games are especially useful as participation structures for neurodivergent youth.