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Adolescents’ Online Literacies

Connecting Classrooms, Digital Media, and Popular Culture – Revised edition

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Edited By Donna E. Alvermann

This revised edition of Adolescents’ Online Literacies: Connecting Classrooms, Digital Media, and Popular Culture features a variety of digital tools for humanizing pedagogy. For example, the book examines numerous artistic representations of young people’s self-selected graphic novels and fan fiction as part of an in-class multi-genre unit on fandom. This edition makes concrete connections between what the research portrays and what teachers, school librarians, and school media specialists know to be the case in their interactions with young people at the middle and high school level. The contributors of these chapters – educators, consultants, and researchers who span two continents – focus on ways to incorporate and use the digital literacies that young people bring to school.
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Chapter 5: Fandom: Exploring Adolescent Pop Culture through Multiple Literacies

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Exploring Adolescent Pop Culture through Multiple Literacies

Rachel Kaminski Sanders

What do SpongeBob, Katniss Everdeen, and Bilbo Baggins all have in common? Each one represents a character that has an enormous fan base in popular culture. These fan bases are made up of a community of people with a shared interest in a particular popular culture, which is referred to as a fandom. In this chapter, I will discuss the implementation of a multigenre unit focused on the rapidly growing popularity of fandoms. I will also discuss how the inclusion of fandom communities in the classroom promotes both increased engagement and critical learning among students.

Academic Disconnect

Many school systems currently structure learning goals toward a specific curriculum ideology. Unfortunately, the selected curriculum often covers only subject areas that focus on the academic disciplines such as math, science, social studies, reading, and writing. Robinson and Aronica (2009), internationally recognized as leaders in creativity and innovation of education, stress the implications of the current curriculum: “The result is that school systems everywhere inculcate [students] with a very narrow view of intelligence and capacity and overvalue particular sorts of talent and ability” (p. 13). As a ← 77 | 78 → consequence, schools often fail students who learn from other ways of thinking. In particular, the academic curriculum often fails to support the exploration of the arts and connections to popular culture.

Because of this disconnect,...

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