Sports and Popular Culture

Senior English Course 1053

Play Ball!

Inspiring Literacy Learning

through the Analysis and Production of

Media Sports Texts

Foundations of the Course

From philosophy and history, to social, communicational, cultural,

and literary studies and sport as a performing art----

When we analyze sport, we find new ways to define our worlds.

Our two essential questions for the course are...

How is sport a mirror of society?

How can sport be a mechanism to improve society?

Sports have been an important component of American culture over the last one hundred years. When you examine sports as culture, you have an opportunity to consider the experience of many groups of people. One event in a sporting venue may have ramifications for society at large. This course will connect sports and their role in American society from historical to contemporary perspectives, which we'll call "playing it forward." This website will give you a chance to engage in blended learning: you interact with each other in the classroom and through online texts. You will interpret through various protocols, analyze through identification of common values, and compose across modalities. You'll deconstruct and produce your own media texts.

So how will you begin? Here's your syllabus course description. Please download the "Second Semester Sign-Off" here or at the bottom of this page.


The objective of this course is to read--- critically--- a variety of texts across genres and from different modalities about the world of sport. Sport in contemporary society has great potential and an intrinsic promise for positive change. Because sport reflects the society in which we live in many ways, when we analyze sports texts, we have the ability to uncover essential dynamics about our American life.

This English course is part of your requirement for graduation; all Massachusetts students must take four full years of English Language Arts. To help you be as successful as possible, this is a hybrid learning course. That means you will connect the join your classmates in the inquiry of sports, culture, literature, and society in person and online. You will learn in two ways in this course: 1) Face-to-Face instruction, in which you and your classmates will read, view, speak, listen, and share together a series of learning events; 2) Online instruction, in which you will move through a series of e-learning modules to learn at your own pace.

The course is broken into units; in each unit, you will start by joining your classmates in a series of inquiry-based activities to learn about the essential concepts within that unit. Then you will conduct your own investigation of the unit by choosing among a variety of texts and exploring them in ways that make sense to you. You'll produce writing, speaking, and listening texts of your own as a result of this inquiry process, and you'll post your production on your personal Google website.

If you look to the left column of this page, you'll see the various units we'll study under the "Welcome" page. As an overview, you will examine the politics of sports that emerges within representation of gender, race, ethnicity, national identities, and globalization. You'll see how the depictions of sports and athletes changes when different media composers frame the sports experience. The course will include economic dimensions of sports media such as production and marketing, such as the consumerization of youth sports, popular media channels, and fandom.

You will learn to develop analysis and production skills and structures that you, hopefully, will be able to apply to your own life. Discourse analysis and content analysis techniques will help you can unpack the subtexts behind sports media messages. We'll look for messages about sport through a variety of texts: print (poetry, short stories, drama, full-length fiction and non-fiction); visual and audio mass communications (television, film, commercials, live talk radio, podcasts); and new media (Web 2.0, social networking sites, blogs). You will compose with a wide variety of multimodal (print, digital, audio, visual, and digital) texts. You'll see how the fun of sports is embedded in media technologies that help to mold sports performance and spectatorship. Believe it or not, you'll start to link sports to identity construction and distribution in society. This course will expose you to the influence and power of sports in contemporary American popular culture and society. You'll explore the social, cultural, and political meanings of the sporting spectacle.

Literature Component:

You will read short and longer print literature texts periodically to ground the work we do together. They include:

Fences, by August Wilson, a play: "The protagonist, Troy Maxon is a restless trash-collector and former baseball athlete. Though deeply flawed, he represents the struggle for justice and fair treatment during the 1950s. Troy also represents human nature's reluctance to recognize and accept social change." from About.com

American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Televised Sports (6th Edition), by Benjamin G. Rader, non-fiction: "With a focus on the historical relationship between sports, and gender, class, race, ethnicity, religion, and region, this book considers how sports transcend these fundamental categories, and how the experience of sports either as a player or as a fan can bind diverse groups together. This book also looks at how sports at various historical moments have reinforced or challenged the values and behaviors of society." from Amazon.com

Sports Shorts, edited by Joseph Bruschac, short stories

Many other textual selections will be made available to you online, through links on this class website.

Course grading:

This course consists of two major categories for grading:

1) participation (daily assignments, announced and unannounced quizzes; homework; short writings; writing response pieces; voluntarily raising your hand ; contributing to our classroom community, and regular attendance), which range from 5 to 50 points.

2) a production at the end of each unit. In the production project, you will compose a text that integrates and extends the areas we are discussing in that unit. The process and product are graded separately and comprise about 50 points total.

All students will take a mid-term exam; this exam will count as the final for senior project students. While no students are exempt from this mid-term, no additional test will be required of senior project students at the end of term three.

Final Exam (exempt for students with A- average or above) 10% of total grade

Academic Expression:

This elective is open to a variety of ways of interpreting the intersection of sports and popular culture. Students are encouraged to participate as co-teachers and to share their questions and ideas. We will call these exchanges of ideas "dialogicality." Each student is expected to be an active participant in the dialogicality. At times, you and your classmates will present differing interpretations about and points of view on a sports topic. In all discussions, each person is expected to show respect to the comments and positions of all students and the teacher by grounding ideas in theory.

Connection to Common Core Standards:

Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond says, "The Common Core state standards ask for much more (than testing). Students will be asked to collaborate, engage in the use of technologies for multiple purposes, communicate orally and in writing, do extensive research, apply ...English language arts in complex problem-solving situations." That is exactly what we're going to do in this course.

Each student is warmly encouraged to meet with the teacher by appointment after school.

Dr. Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. in Education, M.A. in Writing, B.A. in Letters (course designer)

FHS 239

Second Semester English Sign Off's

Copyright © 2015.