Analyzing Satire in The Simpsons and Other Forms of Popular Culture

In this lesson, students will become familiar with the literary device of satire through The Simpsons, they will analyze the elements of satire present in The Simpsons, and they will research, analyze, and write about satire as a literary device present in other examples of popular culture.

Can We Learn Literature, History and Social Studies through Graphic Novels?

In this lesson, students will think about how graphic novels convey traditional literature, history and social studies curricula in a new way, they will learn the mechanisms through which graphic novels interpret formal modes of learning, and they will research, identify and critically analyze a graphic novel, which they will then present to the rest of the class as a lesson in literature, history or social studies.

The Pixar Theory

This lesson will teach students key story elements such as main theme, personification and the concept of connected narratives and storylines by showing how all of the Pixar movies actually exist within the same universe. Jon Negroni developed what he calls The Pixar Theory, as a way to highlight how a single narrative ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme.

Understanding Thesis Statements with Pop Music

In this lesson, students gain an understanding of thesis statements by identifying them in popular songs. Then, they use a thesis statement they’ve identified in a popular song of their choosing to inspire an essay of their own. The goal of this lesson is for students to understand how broad a thesis statement can be while utilizing the the persuasive writing skills necessary to write a general thesis of their own.

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The Anti-Hero: Why We Love a Good Bad Guy

 

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The anti-hero. No longer does America want to watch the good guy (or girl) on TV. Over the last decade or so, we have seen a trend in American TV culture, in which we root for a character that is a combination of hero and villain. This evolution has shown us men who are real family men, but also have less than honorable jobs and commit terrible acts: a ruthless mob boos (The Sopranos), a serial killer (Dexter) and a drug lord (Breaking Bad), as examples.

This is not a new concept. Some of our most loved classic novels depict these types of characters, which may account for their long-lasting popularity. This list includes a criminal turned mayor (Les Miserables), an egotistical charismatic party-thrower (The Great Gatsby), and a troubled loner teenager (Catcher in the Rye). Hey, even the Cat in the Hat is an anti-hero, who knowingly causes all sorts of mischief when the mother is out.

Maybe the anti-hero better reflects real life than the traditional heroes and villains that have permeated our TV and movie screens for years. 

But what exactly is an anti-hero, and why do we find this type of character irresistible to watch? Are these characters essentially good people or are they bad? What are their motivations in choosing their surprising paths? Should these characters be rewarded or punished for their actions?

Maybe the anti-hero better reflects real life than the traditional heroes and villains that have permeated our TV and movie screens for years. Think about it, is that arrested criminal being broadcast on the news, pure evil? Is it more likely that he or she is also a loving husband or wife, with children he or she loves? And, that hero who just rescued that child from a burning building, do we know his full story or are we just judging him on his latest act of good?

 

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For some reason, we seem to love anti-heroes even though they commit evil acts, we sympathize with them. In the beginning, they have good intentions and motives: money, taking care of their family, finding confidence in themselves, feeling strong, feeling powerful. However, towards the end, we realize that their motives have changed: greed, revenge, self-righteousness, ego, etc. Still, these shows would not have lasted as long as they do, unless the audience was in some way on their side, cheering them on.

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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.

Understanding Thesis Statements with Pop Music

In this lesson, students gain an understanding of thesis statements by identifying them in popular songs. Then, they use a thesis statement they’ve identified in a popular song of their choosing to inspire an essay of their own. The goal of this lesson is for students to understand how broad a thesis statement can be while utilizing the the persuasive writing skills necessary to write a general thesis of their own.

The Art of Storytelling

The objective of this lesson plan is to engage students in the art of storytelling and improve their public speaking skills.

The Art of Storytelling

The objective of this lesson plan is to engage students in the art of storytelling and improve their public speaking skills.