• Popular Culture in the American History Classroom: Using Television, Film, and Popular Music as Primary Source Documents

      Maslanka, Mary Kay; The College at Brockport (2007-12-01)
      Teaching American history in the high school classroom is more than reviewing events and memorizing dates and facts, more than a preparatory course for high school students to take high-stakes tests that evaluate what they have learned. It is more than a chance to hone lifelong critical thinking skills for the young citizens who attend. Today’s educators struggle to compromise these two expectations; one that stresses student preparation as well-informed, critical-thinking citizens, and the other that emphasizes success on standardized tests. In order to be successful in both areas of significance, the study of primary sources has become a focal point in the teaching of American history. Teachers who grasp the importance of this skill can apply that to lesson preparation and incorporate not only typical primary sources, like photographs, speeches and letters, but elements of popular culture that have bearing on the specific era studied. The first two sections of this thesis project include a comprehensive review, from the 1950’s to the 1990’s, of American television, sitcoms in particular, and American feature films. Discussion also includes popular music of the era. The project’s third section examines the connection of this historical era to classroom curriculum, utilizing multiple intelligences learning strategies, and includes lecture notes and student activities and worksheets.