Certell’s Poptential™ Free American History Curriculum Highlights Legacy of African Americans for Black History Month

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Poptential™, a family of free, award-winning social studies course packages that infuse lessons with digital storytelling, offers an array of engaging content about the Civil Rights Movement for instruction during Black History Month. Click to tweet.

Observed in the United States since 1976, Black History Month is celebrated yearly in February to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society. Poptential’s American History Volume II curriculum, Bell Ringers, and digital media clips feature the accomplishments of African American leaders and civil rights activists as they fought for racial equality.

Poptential’s Unit 6: The Fracturing of America includes content and multimedia to help teachers lead discussions on the Civil Rights movement, including:…Read More

Charting a path forward in K-12

After several years of disrupted learning, schools are taking stock of the range of challenges that need to be addressed—challenges resulting from the most significant disruption to K-12 education in history.

Across the nation, the pandemic has taken a toll on our children’s mental and physical health, behavioral development, social and emotional well-being, academic achievement, and plans for their future. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Rather, educators anticipate a multi-year process of helping struggling students recover from pandemic-related school disruptions.

Addressing the complexity and scale of these challenges requires school and district leaders to make critical choices. But they don’t need to do it alone. All those serving the education community must come together as trusted partners to find solutions, support evidence-based research, and ensure successful implementation of instructional practices to address education’s most critical challenges. …Read More

7 Black History Month resources to use the whole year

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on innovative ways to engage students, digital resources, and online and hybrid learning strategies related to post-pandemic teaching. This year’s 8th most-read story focuses on Black History Month resources educators can use throughout the school year.

During Black History Month, educators have the opportunity to delve into the difficult–and often uncomfortable–experiences of Black people in the U.S. and around the world.

Perhaps one of the most important “do’s” is this: Don’t limit your teaching of Black history to the month of February.…Read More

Students are still behind in math–what needs to change?

As students return to class this fall, K–12 teachers and administrators face many challenges—and math instruction is high on the list.

Although state assessment data from the 2021–2022 school year suggest that students have begun to close pandemic-related learning gaps, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results reveal that students’ math scores dropped seven points—the first-ever score drop for math in the assessment’s fifty-year history.

Educators now face the daunting task of making up for lost instructional time from the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time, addressing drops in math achievement and teaching grade-level content. Where do educators start?…Read More

3 ways educators can embrace and enable inclusive programming

While the effects of COVID-19 may have diminished for many thanks to widespread vaccine- and infection-induced immunity, the pandemic continues to have a significant systemwide impact and exacerbate social gaps. Students still experience elevated levels of pandemic-prompted emotional trauma, anxiety, isolation, and psychological distress due to schedule interruptions, remote learning, the deaths of family and friends, inequitable access to health care, and job insecurity.

Throughout history, the underprivileged, oppressed, and marginalized communities are often the most severely impacted, as our societal infrastructures and systems have shown. Those who are marginalized, and in some cases deliberately oppressed, often must navigate unjust and inequitable policies. This problem defines so many of our systems, and in an educational setting it is compounded by the pressure to learn, get good grades, avoid discipline, and graduate.

The dire ramifications of the pandemic and its effect on our young learners is tantamount. Learning loss is at an all-time high, and most students, especially those whose families can’t afford small-group or private tutoring, are behind academically. We all remember being in school: it’s not just grades and tests; it’s your social life, it’s where you see your friends, and it’s where you better understand your identity and your role in society. Being in school provides so many important identity-forging, character-building and developmentally significant opportunities. Today schools, with heightened focus on mental health and self-care, provide a safe place for youth to be vulnerable and talk openly about what they’re feeling.…Read More

Poptential™ Offers Free Content for National American Indian Heritage Month

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Poptential™, a family of award-winning social studies course packages that infuse lessons with digital storytelling, offers an array of engaging content to illustrate the culture, traditions, and history of Native Americans for National American Indian Heritage Month. Click to tweet.

Signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, November’s National American Indian Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and pay respect to Native Americans for their culture and contributions to the United States and to raise awareness about the challenges they have faced in the past and today.

Poptential American History Volume II curriculum and digital media examples offer a look at the battles and struggles of the Native Americans as they were removed from their homelands and separated from their families. Content includes:…Read More

Spaced repetition is the secret to overcoming learning loss

Just as “turnt,” “on fleek,” and “adulting” have become trending words in pop culture, so too has “spaced repetition” become a buzzword in education. Some educators are obsessed with it. Others say it’s just a minor hack for memorizing vocabulary.

So what’s “the tea?” In fact, spaced repetition is the key to all learning of knowledge-heavy subjects, from preschool literacy and numeracy exercises through high school, corporate training, and beyond. And yet it remains the most underrated and underutilized learning principle in the history of education.

In this article, I’ll explain exactly why spaced repetition is the secret to overcoming learning loss, and why all educators should incorporate it into their teaching methods.…Read More

Don’t wait to start helping students ace their AP exams

Students across the country take AP exams in hopes of earning high exam scores that help them opt out of college prerequisites and ultimately save money on tuition. Unfortunately, as many as 40 percent of students who take AP exams will earn a 1 or a 2 on those tests, which will not help them test out and earn those coveted college credits. 

As a former high school teacher and current content author for AP History and Social Sciences, I’ve learned several key strategies to help your students earn the AP scores they need to assist them in their academic careers—and retain the material that they have learned.

1. Start talking about the test on Day 1.…Read More

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