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Poptential™ Free History Curriculum Helps Teachers Explain the Significance of Labor Day With Media-Rich Content


INDIANAPOLIS, (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — When teaching about the labor movement in the United States, instructors often focus on Cesar Chavez and Peter McGuire to illustrate the rise of unions and workers’ rights. Poptential™, a free curriculum that infuses lessons with digital storytelling using pop culture references, also uses SpongeBob SquarePants.

“It’s been more than 125 years since the first Labor Day was observed, and the labor movement can seem a little dry to today’s high school students,” said Julie Smitherman, a former social studies teacher and director of content at Certell, Inc., the nonprofit behind Poptential. “Adding digital storytelling—like the SpongeBob clip—helps students better relate to these topics.”

Poptential uses a variety of pop culture media to illustrate concepts, including those taken from sitcoms, movies, animations, cartoons, late-night shows, and other sources.

Poptential’s American History course package contains a number of lessons about the labor movement in the United States that can be used by teachers this Labor Day:

The establishment of the Labor Day holiday — As a result of American worker activism, Labor Day was declared a national holiday to honor worker contributions to the success of America’s development and prosperity. Although Labor Day is a federal holiday, employers are not required to give employees the day off, which is humorously illustrated with a clip from the Comedy Central show, Corporate.  

The role of labor unions and strikes — A mini-lesson discusses the founding of union organizations and highlights how union employees went on strike to protest poor working conditions, low wages, and dangerous jobs. A clip from SpongeBob SquarePants offers a colorful look at an unhappy worker on strike.

The tension between workers and industrialists — Following several strikes and bloody revolts, including a bombing in Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886, industrialists branded the labor force as anarchists. This pitting of groups against each other is illustrated in a video clip from the movie V for Vendetta, in which workers are called to band together and revolt against their government.

The role of labor in immigration — Immigrants from Europe flooded to the United States from the 1880s to 1920s in one of the nation’s largest influx of immigrants. Looking for work, they were welcomed by rapidly-growing industrial companies. A video clip highlights their hope for a better life.

Poptential course packages are standards-based and developed by teachers. They include everything instructors need to teach a subject, including lessons, e-books, bell ringers, quizzes, and tests. All content is available via our digital platform, which allows students to access lessons even in poor bandwidth environments.

Poptential course packages in American History, World History, U.S. Government/Civics, and Economics are available free at www.poptential.org.

About Certell, Inc.
Certell is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to foster a generation of independent thinkers. More than 30,000 teachers from throughout the United States have signed up to use Certell’s Poptential™ family of free social studies courses, and thousands more students are reached through Certell’s college-level courses in law and economics, and SensibleSchool™ instruction for home-schoolers, employees, and inmates. Certell course packages have won a number of awards, including EdTech Digest Awards for Curriculum and Instruction Solution, Tech&Learning Best Tool for Back to School, Tech Edvocate Awards, Bronze Award of Excellence from the National Association of Economics Educators, and Civvys Awards. More information is available at certell.org or on Twitter @CertellOrg.

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