Educational Panels & Programming

Our educational programming offers educators, parents, and creators the chance to:

  • LEARN how to leverage pop culture media to further their craft
  • DISCUSS how popular culture resources, events, and media can inspire youth and lead to greater social change
  • DEVELOP new ways to integrate pop culture into their classrooms, homes, and local communities with an eye for creativity and inclusivity.

2024 Educational Programming Applications are now closed.

2024 Application are now closed. This year’s schedule will be announced in June.

Looking Back: 2023 Schedule

Updated 5/18/2023

4:00pmCU Comics Studies PanelRichard Stevens, University of Colorado BoulderThis panel allowed University of Colorado undergraduate students to present their popular culture research to educators and fans to build up media literacy and show how pop culture scholarship works. Students will present individual papers, adapted to the event, on case studies, comparative analyses, or discourse analyses on comic books, films, television, or animation characters or stories. Audience members will experience:
* how popular culture research is designed, conducted, and presented
* examples and techniques of popular culture analysis
* how public pedagogy works to support particular systems of ideology
* how popular culture can be analyzed as sites of cultural production The panelists have particular topics, with examples of analysis, but invite audience to participate in the discussion with examples and topics of their own. The panelists are well-versed in most animation franchises and culture. Conversation slides will be present to invite discussion, and there will be a Q&A session.
5:00pm2023 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards DiscussionPop Culture Classroom and Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards jurorsJoin Pop Culture Classroom’s Director of Education, Matt Slayter, and members of the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards for a discussion of this year’s recommendations for educators, parents, and readers of all ages. 
6:00pmThe Positive impacts of Esports in Educational SettingsLocalHostThe positive impacts of esports in educational settings are only recently becoming apparent. As the industry continues to evolve, the prevalence of the gaming industry in educational spaces will continue to create further positive outcomes. Stop by to learn more about esports. We are happy to answer questions that you have as well!
7:00pmD&D + TTRPGs for the Secendary Education English ClassroomJosh Garfinkle, Denver Public SchoolsSee examples of how playing D&D, writing adventures, and improvisational activities can meet ELA standards and raise engagement in the classroom. You’ll get ideas, materials, and resources to bring D&D into classrooms with minimal work or prep and in alignment with state and federal standards.
8:00pmPop Culture Classroom Roundtable Session Q&APop Culture ClassroomDo you have questions about teaching using pop culture that weren’t addressed in earlier Educators’ Day sessions? Looking for more resources on teaching with pop culture? Do you have feedback on Educators’ Day? Join members of the Pop Culture Classroom team and the community for an informal talkback/Q&A session. 
11:00amDiscovering the Metallurgical Secrets of BeskarSuveen Mathaudhu, Colorado School of MinesIn the Star Wars universe there is no metal or alloy that compares to Beskar, the legendary “iron” of the Mandalorian tribes. Are you curious how pure Beskar can be extremely strong, corrosion resistant and able to survive blaster bolts and lightsaber strikes alike? Would you like to know how the clandestine skills of Armorer metalsmiths might contribute to the shaping and forming of an “indestructible” material? In this presentation and panel, we will step into a galaxy far far away to learn about the history of Beskar metalworking and contemplate some real-world metal-processing discoveries that may explain the seemingly magical behaviors of Beskar and its alloys.
12:00pmBoldly Go… to Middle School!Drew Reynolds, Addenbrooke Classical AcademyWe will focus on creating connections with students using pop culture in the middle grades. The panel will offer advice and suggestions for those not sure, or unfamiliar with current trends and some oldies buy goodies. We will talk about classroom libraries and letting your geek flag fly in the classroom. 1) Will be able to “”research”” student interests for your understanding
2) Will be more comfortable bringing your geeky side into the classroom
3) Will be able to make connections with content and students to bring into the class 1) Pair/Share fandoms to give background for those not in the know
1:00pmHelping Kids and Students Make (Good) ComicsPop Culture ClassroomAre you a teacher or a parent that wants to help your kids make comics? Do you want to help them improve their comic-creation skills? Do you want to incorporate a comic-creation project in your teaching practice, but don’t know where to start? Matt Slayter, Director of Education at Pop Culture Classroom, will walk you through some tips, tricks, and resources for helping the kids in your life make (good) comics.
2:00pmConversations with Colorado KidLit AuthorsStan Yan, RMCSBWIAward-winning creators from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators will offer attendees behind-the-scenes looks at the work they create, from picture books to graphic novels to young adult literature. Participants will leave with ideas and resources for how to pursue a career in children’s publishing, as well as ways in which authors and illustrators engage with readers and educators through school visits, library programming, and other community organizations. Participants will
1- Discover the basic steps to becoming a published children’s author or illustrator
2- Gather ideas and resources for how to pursue a career in children’s publishing
3- Explore ways in which authors and illustrators engage with the larger community through school visits, library programming, and other community engagements. This group of panelists are all highly experienced, dynamic, and engaging speakers. In this session, they will employ a variety of techniques to ensure engagement, from voice to movement to presenting their ideas on screen. They will include time for audience questions at the end of the presentation.
3:00pmThe Monomythic Madness of Moon KnightStephanie Train, Colorado State UniversityDisney+ broke new ground in the MCU with the introduction of Moon Knight, a complex amalgamation of heroic alters, all serving the powerful Egyptian god, Khonshu. Moon Knight offers a fascinating case study of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth. How does the Hero’s Journey unfold for Steven, Marc, and Jake? And how does Moon Knight navigate these narrative archetypal waters and break new ground in MCU character analysis? -Define the term “myth” and its functions.
–Identify universal mythic archetypes.
–Analyze global myths in connection to their historical contexts, belief systems, and cultural practices.
–Interpret mythological motifs and archetypes in various media.
–Evaluate the impact of myth on contemporary world culture.
–Apply different methods of mythological interpretation. Audience interaction: allowing attendees to explain and articulate what they know about myths, mythology, and the hero’s journey. There will also be a prompt about what drew them to Moon Knight as an adapted series. Presentation will be interactive, asking audience members to make important pop culture connections to traditional frameworks. Audience can assist in helping to fill in gaps that traditional frameworks do not consider in these new, complex stories.
4:00pmDoes It Belong in a Museum?Josie Chang-OrderFrom the cross of Coronado to Captain America’s shield or a Wakandan vibranium axe, museums across the multiverse decide what objects to collect, display, and return. The way these choices are portrayed in popular culture reflect changing perspectives on history, national identity, and representation. Join History Colorado staff to explore how film and television portray what it means to “belong” in a museum, and what these museums say about our views of the past. Educators will leave with high-level discussion questions and examples of what museums in pop culture do to teach history as a discipline and form of inquiry. They will also explore how these pop culture conversations reflect the practice of contemporary historians and history educators committed to bringing social justice principles to the classroom. We will present provocative examples of museums in pop culture for discussion, and invite audience members to come up with more examples that connect to contemporary issues around representation and the nature of history.
5:00pmAnimated Pedagogies: What Animaton Teaches UsRichard Stevens, University of Colorado BoulderAnimated popular culture is part of the polysemic flow of signifiers and signified markers of ethnicity and cultural values. However, because the visual component of animated culture is drawn or rendered independent of the voice actor, representational performances of ethnicity and ideology often break expected patterns.

This panel considers how audience and fans can practice strategies of cultural looking at social issues “”taught”” to audiences. Audience will learn:

* how animation separates identity and politics from drawn worldbuilds
* how ideology is magnified through systems of repetition and rhetorics of simplicity
* how public pedagogy works to support particular systems of ideology
* how popular culture can be analyzed as sites of cultural production The panelists have particular topics, with examples of analysis, but invite audience to participate in the discussion with examples and topics of their own. The panelists are well-versed in most animation franchises and culture. Conversation slides will be present to invite discussion, and there will be a Q&A session.”
6:00pmChildren’s Book Editors Don’t Look at Your DiplomaStan Yan, RMCSBWIThe professors of the Colorado-based online kidlit illustration school, The CuddleFish Academy talk about what was REALLY important in their own journeys to being published children’s book illustrators and author/illustrators, from getting an agent, to a book contract with a big 5 trade publisher, followed by a Q&A. Pre-published children’s book illustrators will get inside information from award-winning, well published picture book and children’s graphic novel author/illustrators and have a chance to ask questions.”
11:00amConsidering Media Fandoms: Forming Social IdenityRichard Stevens, University of Colorado BoulderPanel offers scholarly perspectives on fandom spaces as sites of values conflict, where inequalities of class, gender, race and sexuality are made meaningful or brought to consciousness. Approaching different cases through the lens of public pedagogy, the panel analyzes ho media teaches audiences and fans particular ways of being, through the ways it represents people and issues and the kinds of discourses it creates and disseminates.The audience will have the opportunity to:

– Learn about the history of fan studies and the politics of participation within fan spaces

– Explore the connections between fan discourses, status, and social identity

– Examine ways in which popular media encourage represents people and issues, both by creating and challenging commonly held stereotypes.

– Consider how fan conflicts represent opportunities to explore constructive strategies for cultural conversation 

The panel will use images, short videos, and other multimedia elements to illustrate the historical perspective and case studies. The audience will also be invited at respond at regular intervals, and there will be a Q&A session.
12:00pmCharacters and ConnectionMike Ensley, Comeback Story CounselingJoin professional counselor and relational trauma specialist Mike Ensley on an exploration of the relationships in the stories we love. Looking at pop culture from an Attachment and Polyvagal-informed perspective, this presentation will bring enlightenment to your own relational journey. The audience will understand the fundamentals of attachment and polyvagal theories through illustrations gleaned from beloved films and TV series.
This will also provide basic tools for exploring our relational patterns and developing new ways of navigating conflict, desire, and connection.
1:00pmThe Fast & Fuctious: Unraveling the “Science” if the Fast & FuriousSuveen Mathaudhu, Colorado School of MinesFor over 20 years, the Fast & Furious franchise has been entertaining audience with stories themed around street racing, heists, spies, and family.  Many of their adventure involve fantastical depictions of science and engineering.  What would it take to send a car into space?  Can a magnet pull a car through a building?  Could muscle cars tow a back safe?  Come hear scientists and engineers perspectives on these and other questions, and bring your own “How could they…?” queries as well.
2:00pmMaking Narrative-Adventure Games with Deck NineDeck NineDeck Nine is a local video game company based in Westminster, Colorado, who has developed games like Life is Strange: True Colors and The Expanse: A Telltale Series. Learn:

– How Deck Nine develops narrative adventure games.

– What different fields/positions are available in the game industry.

– Options for education and/or career in the video game industry. 
3:00pmParenting and Teaching tips from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (and other video games)Pop Culture Classroom: Matt SlayterThe Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (and many other video games), can teach us a lot about how humans learn. How do game creators use the science of learning and good pedagogy to help us play? What can we as parents and teachers take away from this, and how can we apply it to helping our kids learn new skills?

Join Pop Culture Classroom’s Director of Education, Matt Slayter, as we discuss the educational model of Tears of the Kingdom!
4:00pmDrawing Cartoon AnimalsPop Culture Classroom: Midori Proper, Terra NecessaryAnimals are everywhere in our favorite cartoons and comics! Do you want to learn how to draw your favorite cartoon animals, or how to create your own animal characters? Join Pop Culture Classroom’s professional artists and learn how to draw cute cartoon animals with LOTS of personality.