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pop culture


Analyze: Word of the Year

Evaluation Title: What is Pop Culture?

One way to identify changes in popular culture is to examine new terms and concepts that arise and quickly become prevalent in society.  For example, you may be familiar with the new phrases that arose with the use of smartphones (LOL! OMG! YOLO!) and the new meanings for already familiar words such as text, data, refresh, application, etc.  We use “Google” as a verb today, “Spam” used to be a canned meat product, and “Amazon” no longer first brings to mind a river in South America.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary takes on the challenge of the ever-changing English language by providing definitions for newly adopted and used words in the English language and even selects a “Word of the Year” – a word that takes on a certain significant meaning in the context of current events and culture.  In 2015, it was notable that the “word” of the year wasn’t even a word at all, but instead an emoji!  No one 10 years ago could have predicted this, and it clearly demonstrates the role communication via technology has in today’s culture. 

For this assignment, you will create a PowerPoint presentation about popular culture and this year’s Word of the Year.  Look up Merriam-Webster’s most recent Word of the Year (

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) and consider the cultural influences and events that drove this selection.  What events are related to this word, and what are their significance?  How does this word present itself in your own thoughts, experiences, and beliefs?  What is the connection between the “Word of the Year” and the concept of Popular Culture?


Submission: A 10-12 slide PowerPoint presentation or Prezi to address the questions posed above. Include speaker notes or a voice-over, images, and videos where applicable.  You will upload your recording web link (URL) if you choose the voice-over option.  If you choose the speaker’s notes option, submit your speaker’s notes as a separate MS Word or PDF document within your submission. Students can upload multiple files to a single assignment submission by selecting +Add Another File. 

In your presentation:

· Clearly explain the meaning of the Word of the Year.

· Provide 4-5 examples of cultural events that led up to or evolved from this word usage.  

· Reflect on thoughts, experiences, and beliefs regarding this word’s usage in society and your life.

· Provide speaker notes or a voiceover on the PowerPoint to accompany each slide.  If you choose speaker’s notes, the total word count of your notes should be 750-1000 words.  If you choose to create a voiceover recording, your presentation should be 4-6 minutes long.

· Include a title slide and include your references page in APA format on the last slide of the presentation.

Helpful Resources:

· Screencast-o-Matic is an easy, free tool to use to create your voiceover.  Get free access at 

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· If you are new to using Screencast-o-Matic, tutorials are available at 

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· For information on using PowerPoint speaker notes, see 

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