When I first started teaching, I was always looking for assignments and/or projects that the students would think was cool because the assignment and/or project mirrored what was cool in their teen lives at the time.
I think, somewhere tucked in my file cabinet, I still have a vanity plate of one of my 8th graders from our Romeo & Juliet unit, taught way back in the Spring of 2001. The purpose of the assignment was to explore characterization within the play, and the students had to pick a character, chart their personal changes throughout the play, and then create a vanity license plate in which the first part illustrated who they were at the beginning of the text and the second part of the license plate represented who they were at the end of the play. For example: Mercutio’s plate might read: CRZE-2L8 (crazy–>too late) and then the student would have to write about each part of the vanity plate.
Yeah, not the best project in the world, but it was my first year teaching.
Other attempts at pop-culture relevance: talk show projects (when Jerry Springer was big), soundtracks for a book/character (back when we could mix a CD, before digital music), and even Facebook profiles (my student teacher did this the last year I taught).
But nothing compares to this brilliant explanation of World History from before WWI through the end of WWII.
I must admit, I learned something from it! And, if your students are like the students I worked with in high school, Global History is super hard for them to retain. Maybe this would help?
[Warning before classroom use: There are a few curse words…]
Enjoy. Too good. Make sure you read all three pages.