What is the Relationship Between Pop Culture and a Community?

This week my Spanish 5 Honors class began organizing their next learning adventure. They decided that they wanted to do a unit on Spanish Pop Culture. I told them that I was looking to address the following Spanish Speaking skills:

1) Reading

2) Writing

3) Listening

4) Speaking

5) Feeling

I asked the students to build a project that used Pop Culture to enhance our Spanish skills. The students came up with the following ways to learn about Pop Culture in Spanish-speaking communities while also enhancing our skills. This is what they came up with:

1) Reading: Analyz lyrics or script to a show/movie

2) Writing: Essays on background of subject chosen and analysis of a specific work

3) Listening: Watch/listen a movie, episode of a show or a song by subject

4) Speaking: Present information to class that explains the relationship between Pop Culture and Community using their subject as a case study

5) Feeling: Creative Activity – using your understanding of your subject and its relationship to community, create what will be your subjects next famous work — for example, their next famous song (write the lyrics), episode of their show (write a summary of the plot) , or their next movie (write a summary of the plot). Also write an explanation for why you think this work reflects their relationship to community.

After talking out their ideas with them, I then proposed the following learning adventure:

Central Question: What is the relationship between Pop Culture and a Community?

Overview: Over the next couple weeks, students will research an aspect of pop culture from the Spanish-speaking world. They will choose a musician, actor/actress or television show that comes from a Spanish-speaking origin. They will study their selection and use it as a case study to help them answer the question: What is the relationship between Pop Culture and a Community?

Phase 1: Select a Subject to research from Spanish speaking Pop Culture

– Spend time in computer lab researching potential subjects to study

– Select a subject

– Get approval from teacher for subject

Phase 2: Background Information

– Use the Internet to research your subject

– Discover where you subject originates, how it became famous, what they do in their industry, etc.

– Submit a written report on the background information for your subject

Phase 3: Analyze a selected work by your subject

– Select a song, movie or episode produced by your subject

– Annotate this work – Look for colloquial vocabulary, phrasing, dress etc.

– What is the message that your subject tries to communicate?

– Answer the question: What does this work say about the relationship between Pop Culture and Community? Does the community determine how/what the subject conveys its message? Why/how? Do you think the subject manipulates how the community functions? Why/how? How else does this work relate to the central question of this unit? Write up your analysis in essay form and submit to teacher.

Phase 4: Creation – Using what you have learned from the background of your subject and what you have learned from the analysis of the specific work, create what you think would be your subject’s next work. Take into account what you know about how your subject works and how it typically relates to communities based on the case studies that you have seen.

– If you chose an artist = write the next song by your artist

– If you chose an actor = write a summary of the plot of his next movie

– If you chose a TV show = write a summary of what the next episode might be about After your summary/song

– You will also write a brief essay explaining why you think this will be your artists next work and why you think this will resonate with a community.

Phase 5: Presentation

– The final activity of this unit will be your presentation to the class. You will create a multimedia presentation that will be given to the class in Spanish. This presentation will summarize how you think Pop Culture relates to Community. You will use your subject as your evidence.

Concluding Thoughts: Obviously there is no correct answer to the central question. The class is also limited by our two week time restraint leading up to the end of the semester. The goal of the unit though was not to “correctly answer the question”, but to get students reflecting on some of these ideas. I hope that after my students finish with this unit they will revisit this question in the future. When a new single comes out, will they wonder why it became popular? Will they wonder how this song reflects or projects on society?

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve this unit? What do YOU think is the relationship between Pop Culture and Community?

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