Education’s Great Resignation

Just outside of Des Moines, Iowa, an opening for a sixth-grade teaching job sits vacant… with zero applicants.

An hour northwest of Chicago, a shortage of bus drivers, special education teachers, counselors, and paraprofessionals is forcing teachers to reexamine their workload and look outside of the profession.

Public concerns around books, curricula, and learning platforms, combined with debate over masks and vaccines, have compelled college students who intended to major in education to choose a different career path.…Read More

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.…Read More

Poptential™ Free Economics Curriculum Adds Content to Explain Today’s Inflation, Recession Woes

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — With inflation reaching a 40-year high and talk of a looming recession, high school students are coming of age during one of the most challenging economies in recent history. To help them make sense of how we got here, Poptential™ has expanded and updated its Common Sense Economics digital curriculum to include recent economic events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, and the current inflation crisis. Click to tweet.

“The last couple of years, and this year in particular, have seen huge shifts in U.S. and world economies that will have implications for years to come,” said Julie Smitherman, director of content management at Poptential. “The beauty of a digital curriculum is that it can be updated at any time, so we have been adding content to help explain these shifts.”

Poptential Common Sense Economics is a 15-week curriculum that is standards-based and developed by teachers. Topics are illustrated with pop culture media taken from sitcoms, movies, animations, cartoons, late-night shows, and other sources, to help students better understand and retain a specific concept.…Read More

5 digital tools to enhance your social studies instruction

Over the span of my 22-year career as South Carolina public school educator, I’ve taught in self-contained classrooms and I’ve been in departmentalized settings.  Although I love teaching all subjects, I always choose English/language arts and social studies, in part because I love the challenge of engaging young leaners in these important subjects.

As a fourth-grade English/language arts and social studies teacher in an elementary collaborative learning magnet program–which is also a NASA Explorer School–I get the challenge of unlocking the minds of 9- and 10-year-olds who are more at home in the STEM subjects than in exploring literature or our country’s history.

In my quest to engage my students in social studies, I’ve found that, after a few rounds of trial and error, the social studies textbooks belong on the shelf. Instead, I’ve turned to a host of exciting digital resources that would engage the students and connect their lessons to the “real world”, enhance my delivery of instruction, and expand students’ knowledge of our country’s history.…Read More

Powerful strategies to motivate girls in STEM

The history of STEM is filled with amazing women who revolutionized our understanding of science. Take Grace Hopper, one of the first computer programmers who went on to become a rear admiral in the United States Navy. Chien-Shiung Wu was a renowned physicist who helped crack the secrets of nuclear physics. Alice Ball saved countless lives by developing a treatment for leprosy, while Ynés Mexía gave us a better understanding of the many plants which make up our environment. The list goes on, and only grows more extraordinary!

Unfortunately, women only make up 28 percent of the STEM workforce. This is because many young girls have struggled to engage with STEM while in school. The reasons for this are numerous, from forced stereotypes to a lack of role models.

As a result, many young women are missing their chance to pursue STEM in higher education, and the world is poorer for it. So, how can educators take steps to correct this imbalance?…Read More

New Collegiate Partnerships with Central High School Advances Student Learning Opportunites

Phenix City, Ala.— In the upcoming school year, high school students will have a selection of dual enrollment courses offered by new collegiate partnerships. Phenix City Schools partners with five colleges for the 2022 to 2023 school year: Chattahoochee Valley Community College, Auburn University, University of Alabama, Troy University, and Alabama State University.

These partnerships create additional learning opportunities for students interested in getting a headstart on earning college credits and seeking more challenging academic experiences. Some of these options are also open to Central Freshman Academy. Along with the new dual enrollment courses, students can enroll in new Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Central High School now offers 12 AP courses, such as AP World History, AP Environmental Science, and AP Macroeconomics. Teachers new to teaching AP courses will be AP-trained and receive three Continuing Education Units (CEU) or 30 hours of professional learning credits.

These new courses and learning avenues to Central High School’s curriculum joins a long list of classes and extracurricular activities. Central High School currently offers 14 Career and Technical Education classes in its CTE Academy and over 40 clubs and organizations. …Read More

Is the education system working?

PISA, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics, and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges. Its league table of results suggests which of the 90 participating countries have been able to improve their education system and student performance.

But when we look back at people throughout history who have made a significant impact on society, it’s not their school reading, math, or science test results that measure their success.

One well known winner of the Nobel Prize for physics was told by his teacher at school that he would ‘never amount to anything.’ For Albert Einstein, it was his fascination with the invisible forces that deflected a compass needle and a book on science that ignited his lifelong fascination with the world around him. But how do we strike a balance between the core curriculum and the invaluable importance of developing a child’s hard and soft skills, their curiosity, and their creativity?…Read More

Poptential™ Free Curriculum Brings History Alive for Independence Day

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — (May 6, 2022) — Poptential™, a family of free social studies course packages that pair pop culture media with engaging digital storytelling, provides teachers and students media-rich lessons on the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence, celebrated July 4. Click to tweet.

“While the Declaration of Independence was adopted 246 years ago, the heroes guiding the birth of our nation are brought to life in popular culture, which appeals to today’s digitally-savvy learner, and can make teaching more effective and relevant,” said Fred Fransen, CEO of Certell, Inc., the maker of Poptential.

Poptential courses, used by more than 30,000 teachers in 50 states, include everything instructors need to teach a subject, digitally accessible in one place, including lessons, ebooks, bell ringers, quizzes, and tests, as well as pop culture media to make lessons interesting and relatable to students. Curriculum packages are standards-based and developed by social studies teachers.…Read More

Bringing our history to light can improve our students’ futures

In November 2021, the Institute for Education Innovation (IEI) held its Fall Superintendent Summit at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.–one of the most stunning resorts in the U.S.

But as with many of the nation’s iconic landmarks, from The White House to Harvard University, the legacy of The Greenbrier is directly tied to the greatest stain on our nation’s legacy: the enslavement of Black people. During the Summit, we invited Toni Ogden and Janice Cooley of the Greenbrier County Historical Society to provide a historical context of our surroundings.

The original resort was built in 1858 largely by enslaved people, and as late as 1910, when the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway acquired the property, the company continued to exploit Black workers. African American staff members were expected to cater to the whims of white guests in the style of the old plantations before returning home to overwhelming poverty.…Read More

Discovery Education and Social Impact Partners Offer Educators and Students No-Cost Resources Supporting Women’s History Month Celebrations

Silver Spring, MD (Thursday, March 3, 2022) — Discovery Education and leading social impact partners are offering engaging, no-cost digital learning resources to students, teachers, and families to support Women’s History Month observances nationwide. Discovery Education is honoring the incredible accomplishments of women leaders during Women’s History Month and beyond with STEM-focused resources encouraging young women everywhere to reach their fullest potential. Discovery Education is the worldwide EdTech leader whose state-of-the-art digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place.  

Under the 2022 theme of “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” these curated resources from Discovery Education introduce students to the women leaders whose innovations make the world a better place for all. Among the resources created in collaboration with leading social impact partners are:    

Career Profiles 
Meet the women cybersecurity experts working to keep us all safe online in the career profiles from Girls4Tech – Mastercard’s signature science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program supported by Discovery Education. Geared towards giving girls in middle and high school access to STEM resources and career exploration tools, this program dives deeply into the topics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber security. …Read More