Loyola University Maryland

Literacy Leadership Awards

Dr. Robert Petrone

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Dr. Robert PetroneDr. Robert Petrone delivers the keynote address "Can We Really Do That?: Using Popular Culture to Develop Research Informed Approaches to Teaching Literacy," which will focus on how popular culture can be an important resource for educators to draw upon to create transformative learning environments within literacy classrooms. Framed by the principles that educators need to be aware of and responsive to students' cultural lives in the world beyond the walls of school, and that literacy classrooms are spaces whereby students not only learn to read and write but also engage more imaginatively, purposefully, and critically. Dr. Petrone with discuss several key pedagogical possibilities of popular culture:

  • How popular culture functions as a site of identity formation for youth and how literacy educators can adopt stances of inquiry toward youth engagement with popular culture to better ascertain understandings of youth’s rich cultural lives and identities; 
  • How popular culture functions as a context for literacy development for youth and how educators can make strategic connections between academic concepts and curricula and their students' literacy practices involving popular culture;
  • How popular culture functions as a vehicle for social critique and action for youth and how educators can develop curricula that helps their students better understand many of the problematic messages within popular culture (what is sometimes referred to as "critical media literacy") as well as how popular culture can be used as a tool for ideological critique and socially just political action.

In addition to these central ideas, Dr. Petrone will provide an overview of various definitions of popular culture, as well as discuss some of the challenges in working with popular culture in classrooms. He will provide practical, "real-life" examples of teachers and students in classrooms, and participants will leave the presentation with both practical ideas for implementation and broader conceptual ideas for more systemic pedagogical development.