Poptential™ Digital Storytelling Makes Summer School Fun


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — (June 3, 2022) — Millions of high school students are expected to hit the books in summer school to help close the pandemic education gap, get a head start on a jam-packed schedule, or to repeat a failed class. As a result, teachers are looking for educational tools that engage students and help them compete with summer distractions.

“Summer school teachers have to work extra hard to keep students engaged,” said Julie Smitherman, who taught high school social studies for eight years and is now director of content management for Certell, Inc.’s  Poptential™ family of free social studies courses.

About 3.4 million students attended summer school in 2020, and as many as 40% were absent daily, according to ThinkImpact. One proven way to keep students engaged is through the use of pop culture media to illustrate key learning concepts.

“Courses like Poptential, which infuse course content with pop culture media, really appeal to digital-native students and make learning fun and effective,” said Smitherman.

For example, Poptential’s Government (Civics) course includes a skit from Monty Python to illustrate John Locke’s idea of legitimate governments. Its Economics course uses a clip from the show Pawn Stars to illustrate the role of the middleman.

“Today’s students are highly visual and access digital storytelling via a variety of platforms,” said Smitherman. “Using digital storytelling to help students learn can be educational and entertaining, and help them develop critical thinking skills.”

A study conducted by Project Tomorrow® shows that 90% of teachers using Poptential say it increases their effectiveness in the classroom, and 84% of students say the pop culture references help them learn.

Poptential courses are used by more than 30,000 teachers in 50 states. The free courses 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.

Poptential course packages in American History, World History, U.S. Government/Civics, and Economics, are available free at www.certell.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 is a finalist in the EdTech Digest Awards for Curriculum and Instruction Solution, was named a 2021 Tech&Learning Best Tool for Back to School, is a 2021 Tech Edvocate finalist, and received the 2021 Bronze Award of Excellence from the National Association of Economics Educators. For more information, go to certell.org or on Twitter @CertellOrg.

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