To find out more about the world of popular culture texts in which my Year 3 students are engaged I asked them to complete this quick and dirty survey. No time to employ the scientific method, and allowing for possible peer-peer influence, I hoped some of the information gathered would help me better understand what my Year 3 students get into away from the classroom.
The graphs below present some helpful information about my students’ preferences for books, TV shows, movies and other popular culture. Where useful, and for ease of interpretation, I have colour-coded exclusively male and female responses with blue and pink shades respectively. (Yes, goes against the grain but everyone knows this system!)
Q. List 5 things that are really popular right now.
The results from this question, shown in the graph below, are enlightening for me. The singers, books and mobile devices were predictable, but some of physical toys and TV shows were unfamiliar to me.
A high number of responses indicated the popularity of physical (real-life) toys. The graph above shows a break-down of the Physical Toys category to highlight specific answers. Responses from boys and girls are coded with blue and pink shades respectively. As shown by the graph, many of the girls are into Shopkins.
I’ve seen my Year 3 girls playing with these little figurines, but I’ve been completely unaware that these Australian created and manufactured collectibles are such a big craze. Cindy Train (Daily Mail Australia) claims the toy has attracted 13 million fans to webisodes and 400+ million views on fan videos. They’ve taken out the 2015 Girl Toy of the Year Award and even have their own Ekka (Queensland Royal Show) showbag. I feel a post on gendered toys could be in order!
The second highest number of responses to what was most popular things question was movies. The graph below shows a variety of movie titles, but Minions the clear winner. When the most popular movies from the above graph (scoring votes of 2 or more) were broken down to specific titles and collated according to gender, differences in preferences became obvious. Overall, the girls indicated a higher interest in movies than the boys. The takeaway from this data could be that my selection of popular culture movies to enhance student engagement in the curriculum might require more careful consideration than initially anticipated. How to find a movie or movies that inspires all students?
Q. What books are popular right now?
I was also really keen to find out what books ranked with my students. Books nominated by both girls and boys are shaded green. It is clear that The Treehouse series books by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton are the books most favoured by my students, and I know they are excited about the latest title, The 65-Storey Treehouse. The breakdown of responses for The Treehouse series was 5 girls and 6 boys, showing a gender-neutral spread among these readers. These books were selling like hotcakes at our recent Book Fair. I think there is wonderful scope for using this series to inspire learning and I am keen to explore this idea in a future post.
Overall, I think this survey has been a valuable exercise for me as I feel I know my students a little more. It has also provided me with impetus to continue to follow my students’ popular culture interests.