A Discussion about Female Empowerment and Pop Culture

This lesson’s objective is to have students discuss women’s empowerment in 21st century pop culture.

Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna are only a few examples of icons that represent female empowerment in pop culture. Their tracks are not only fun to listen to, but also send a message of female empowerment. Females in the entertainment industry have made great strides, however many feminist groups argue that some female artists dress too provocatively in their music videos and even do a disservice to the female population. However, others believe many of them reflect positive examples of female independence and accomplishment in a male dominated industry.

Frank Ocean and Hip-Hop: Writing About Assumptions and Hypotheticals

The objective of this lesson is to have students think critically about the complicated and intricate role of homosexuality in hip-hop. The lesson also teaches students on how to write a persuasive essay based on assumptions and hypotheticals.

Russell Simmons once said “Rap music is one of the most homophobic genres of music we know.” However there has been a progressive shift in this genre of music in the last decade, and one of the pioneers of this new wave is R&B singer Frank Ocean. Ocean officially came out on his tumblr page, when he told the story of his first love, which was a man. His confession of his true self stirred up quite the response, even with celebrities like Tyler, the Creator, who has been condemned for using anti-gay lyrics in his music, voiced his support for him.

Become a Film Critic … In Three Minutes or Less!

In this lesson, students review a trailer or a scene from a film for both its implausible and its credible or well-done features, write their review, and present it to the rest of the class along with the selected trailer or scene.

Adapting a Novel into a Movie: A Different Kind of Book Report

In this lesson, students learn about the process of adapting a piece of literature to a feature film. They will examine how the story structure changes and discuss why screenwriters decided to make these changes. They will practice this process themselves by choosing a novel and writing a synopsis of their selection’s film adaptation and casting 3-5 principle characters.

Analyzing Transcendentalism in Contemporary Popular Culture

In this lesson, students develop an understanding of the nineteenth-century literary and philosophical movement of transcendentalism by identifying and applying the precepts of the movement to contemporary popular culture, which they will follow with a research, analysis, and presentation project of their own examples of transcendentalism in popular culture today.

The Great Gatsby and the Paparazzi

In this lesson, students analyze the time period of the 1920s and characters from The Great Gatsby through a 21st century TMZ style lens.

“After Ever After”: Analyzing Fairy Tales in the Modern World

In this lesson, students will use the YouTube sensation “After Ever After” as inspiration for writing their own realistic accounts of classic fairy tales and what might happen after their “happy endings.” They will incorporate research of current events to support their stories.

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Dystopia in Pop Culture: Fiction or the Future?

The most frightening fictional dystopias are recognizable extensions of our current world. 

Dystopias have become a staple of popular entertainment, and despite predictions to the contrary, they show no sign of tapering off. Yet most of us have only the vaguest sense of what a dystopia is.


For starters, a dystopia is the opposite of a utopia. A utopia is a pretty old concept; Thomas More created the term in 1516 to describe a perfect society. “Dystopia” is a more recent term, dating to the 19th century: it comes from the Greek ”dys” meaning “bad” and “topia” meaning “place”. While a utopia is an ideal civilization, where everyone has their needs met, a dystopia is a society that is essentially harmful. The central arc of dystopic fiction almost always puts the hero in conflict with the government or the group of people in charge.

The most frightening fictional dystopias are recognizable extensions of our current world. These worlds answer “What If” questions about the future with the most pessimistic of responses.

What if the earth runs out of oil?


What if we stop having as many children?

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What if the government used reality TV as a form of propoganda?

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What if there was no law and order?


What if we lived in a military run state?


Dystopian fiction imagines the worst-case scenarios for our future. However paranoid these imaginings may seem, they also expose important truths about our current reality.


The Theories Behind Time Travel

Great Scott! How many gigawatts does it take to write a story with time travel and parallel universes? It doesn’t take that much electricity, but it does take a lot of planning, researching and creativity.

H.G. Wells, Isaac Asminov, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, Kurt Vonnegut — they’ve all written famous science fiction books that focus on time travel. Wells’ Time Machine dates back to 1895, before Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and before the ideas behind black holes and wormholes existed.

Traveling in time to alter our destinies has been a pop culture fascination for a long time. Many superheroes have experienced time travel in different ways. Superman could go back in time by flying around the world quickly enough to reverse Earth’s rotation. Similarly, The Flash could travel fast enough to go back in time. Even the mutant, Wolverine, traveled back in time in X-Men: Days of Future Past to change the fate the world.

The plot lines involved in time travel and jumping through alternate realities are not easy to follow and are even more difficult to write. This lesson takes a look back in time at how some science-fiction stories have rules and a structure to the way time and alternate universes function within their fictional world and how you can create your own narrative structure to write your own tight story involving parallel universes and time travel.