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Education

How I Use Pop Culture To Teach History


As I entered my 22nd year as a teacher, I found myself teaching high school World History for the first time. I was searching for an online platform for my curriculum that fit my personal teaching style. It needed to be engaging for my students, exciting to teach, and something that felt like “me.”

At the suggestion of a colleague, I looked into Poptential, an online suite of free social studies content that ties in pop culture. I must say, I immediately knew I’d struck gold. The platform is 100% free and includes a blend of short video clips and text so I can reach the different learning styles of my students. The best part? Throughout the lessons, you’ll find clips from movies and shows, memes, and modern references that your students can relate to. As a music and movie lover, I knew that this curriculum would work for both me and my students. You’ll find references from Parks and Rec, Anchorman, Miracle on Ice, Moana, House of Cards, and so much more.

My favorite Poptential resources

  • Bell ringers based on modern media: Poptential has social studies bell ringers for each month (most have video clips included!). These modern media topics quickly draw my students in at the start of class. Some topics include Vince Lombardi’s fight for equality, the history of MTV, the evolution of the Secret Service, and SNL‘s debut. I have to set a timer or we’d easily lose ourselves in this section of our lesson!

Poptential SNL

  • Individual lessons with popular movie clips and memes: Topics are broken into lesson modules. I cover one lesson per day, and there is a wealth of information! I find that Poptential includes videos that lure my students into the topic at hand and can give a relatable visual to what they are specifically learning. These lessons include little to no prep time for me (a huge plus!). You can find ready-to-go lessons in World History, Economics, Government, and American History.  Students loved when we learned about Polynesia and watched a portion of Moana and Hawaii Five-O!

Poptential Moana Clip - pop culture

  • Additional module resources to dive deeper: Each module has an average of four additional teaching resources that go further in depth with content. For example, when I was highlighting the Renaissance to lead into the Enlightenment, I was able to use one of the additional resources to teach about the Medici family, one of Italy’s most powerful families during the Renaissance. In this lesson, Poptential creatively presented the lesson to the tune of The Addams Family. This really allowed my musical learners to connect to the curriculum.

Poptential Addams Family

Ready-to-go lessons make life so much easier.

The curriculum closely aligns with learning standards, so pulling together additional resources is not necessary (saving my valuable time). This allows more time to focus on other areas of life! I feel that as a huge fan of pop culture, I am able to be real in the classroom, teaching with passion and sharing content with my students in a way I know will be memorable.

My students are excited to participate in class.

My students’ excitement and engagement with Poptential content is evident in daily Q&As. The pop culture references are truly engaging, and students love that they are able to learn with these memorable connections. I fully put my stamp of approval on this free curriculum. It has ignited an excitement for World History, not only for myself but also for my students!

Whether you teach Government, Economics, American History, or World History, using Poptential will increase student engagement and classroom effectiveness. Check out Poptential now to get this free curriculum that includes standards-based lessons, videos, bell ringers, quizzes, and more, ready-to-go for your history classroom.

Explore Poptential





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