December . . . our favorite time of year for parties, cookies, and year-end roundups of all stripes, including our annual Best Education Parodies 5-Minute Film Festival. Grab a mug of hot cocoa and gather round for our picks of the most excellent efforts by teachers and students this year.
The Immortal Rap of Henrietta Lacks (04:59)
Eighth-grade science teacher Tom McFadden’s YouTube channel offers many excellent videos, often cocreated with his students. This one was born of a tweet by journalist Rebecca Skloot, who wrote a best seller about the fascinating story of Henrietta Lacks. Inspired by Drake’s “Right Hand,” Rihanna’s “Work,” and Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, and Ty Dolla $ign’s “Shell Shocked.” (Best for: investigative minds.)
Mary Morris—“Snow,” An Adele “Hello” Parody (06:09)
You have to give props to third-grade teacher Mary Morris of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee—she faithfully recreates Adele’s “Hello” video as a heartfelt plea for more snow days. Once that snow day comes, head over to our recent roundup of snow day resources by Matt Davis. (Best for: everyone who is ready for winter break.)
Ms. Bender’s 5th Grade Getting “Juju on That Beat” (00:47)
This year’s answer to “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” this track soared to the top of the charts entirely on homemade low-fi dance videos. Maybe these fifth graders will encourage you to join the ranks of teachers around the country who turned “Juju on That Beat” into a morning pep song (and dance!) for their classes. (Best for: elementary school teachers needing a pick-me-up.)
Sorry—A Library Parody (03:45)
Though the teachers in this version really nailed the neon costumes, the super adorable kids in this video by librarian Mary Evelyn Smith, of Columbus, Ohio, won us over. Apparently her viral hit “All About Them Books” in 2015 didn’t get her elementary students to bring their overdue books back, so she tried again this year with Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” (Best for: overextended library media specialists.)
Ron Clark Academy Students Perform Viral Dance Moves (04:31)
While this is not really a parody, we couldn’t resist including it—who knew innovative educator Ron Clark of Atlanta was also a ridiculously great dancer? Well, The New Yorker did—they produced this one-shot video of Ron and his students at the Ron Clark Academy. The dance moves are tight, but it’s even cooler to get a peek inside the fantastic learning space. (Best for: anyone with happy feet.)
Every year we’re amazed by the creativity and the effort put into parody videos that bring humor and joy to the learning process. If you can’t get enough of these and want to see the parody “best of” lists from previous years, here are links to 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. And if you feel compelled to pull out your camera and make some videos, here are a few resources for using parody in the classroom.
- Media literacy education consultant Frank W. Baker shares a wealth of links and ideas for teaching parody in this article for MiddleWeb: “Media Literacy: Middle School Kids Love Parody.”
- Though it’s a few years old, there is much to glean from Fast Company’s five-minute read “Master Class: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic on How to Make a Great Parody.”
- Need to convince an administrator that your parody project is worthwhile? You’re in luck—parody is called out in the Common Core ELA standards, and this article by Jonathan Ayer lists the standards you can align your project to.