Great teaching in action :-) I’m definitely impressed with the ingenuity and hands-on approach of this lesson. It’s getting kids excited about learning!
On the other hand (and no slight against the teacher…this is just a personal thing), it’s slightly uncomfortable for me to think of 5th graders believing that MONEY is the ultimate goal.
Again, no slight against the teacher at ALL. I wish I the ingenuity, control, and intelligence to come up with such a cool and engaging idea. There’s just a part of me that doesn’t want kids (and thus adults) focused on money. Yes, they do need to learn how to manage it. Yes, this is just a simulation, I know. The real world is different. I just hope they will learn as much about doing things for other reasons (like helping someone, or simply for the sake of learning).
Who knows - maybe we’ll see some philanthropists develop in their mini-economy! Now that I think about it, this could very well be a microcosm of their eventual real-world lives! Maybe the kids who are naturally giving will be giving with their pretend money. And maybe the kids that are selfish will continue to be selfish…or maybe they’ll learn how to be more giving.
Maybe I should just have a bit more faith in these kids and stop being so pessimistic…
VICTORIA, Texas — There’s no money in education these days, Aloe Elementary teacher Kelly Lorance will say, unless you’re a fifth-grader in her class.
On any given day, there are hordes of cash spilling from students’ fingers or waded into desks for safekeeping.
One student has $500 saved, and Garrett Weber, scarcely taller than a doorknob, is already a landlord with multiple tenants.
Lorance’s students practice economics every day in their self-created society by earning fake cash, buying and selling everything from pencils to $2 rubber duckies.
“It teaches them everyday life skills that you can’t really teach to them in a lesson,” Lorance said. “I can’t really teach them how to be organized by pulling up a lesson plan. It’s got to be hands on to show them what our society is.”
The concept is simple: Students get paid for earning good grades or odd tasks and use it to pay obligations like desk rent or fees for missed assignments. They can even save their money and buy up other student’s desks, like Garrett does.
He’s a slight, blond-headed boy who wears glasses and quickly interrupts his fellow students as he explains how he’s come to be a landlord.
“It feels like you’re gaining power over someone,” he said.
Garrett bought three of his classmates’ desks, lowered the monthly rent, but still nets $60 at the end of every month. His goal is to have the most money in the room and continue growing his business.
“I want to buy the whole room,” he said.
Every bit of the approach is student driven, Lorance said. Students set the prices for job salaries — a janitor earns $15 while a tutor earns $20 — and so on. Students also set their grading pay scale and can earn up to $3 for an “A” or owe up to $5 for missed work.
The approach comes at an ideal age and in a perfect way, said youth financial literacy expert Lori Mackey.
“Employers reward sales people with commission, and so on, and when you reward a child with money, you’re just teaching them how money works,” she said.
Grade school is an ideal time to start simple financial concepts like compounded interest and how to buy and sell things because teachers have students in one classroom the entire day, unlike upper grades. If students grasp the concepts early, it can prevent them from financial woes later in life.
“The less educated you are with money, the more it costs you,” Mackey said.
With the economic climate deteriorating, Mackey believes financial literacy must start with children now more than ever.
“Our states are falling apart because they can’t manage money. So we, as parents and states and educators, have got to teach financial literacy,” she said. “The only way we can do that is teaching our children to work with money.”
But the love of money also ushers another concept — greed.
When Lorance’s students drop money on the floor, it quickly becomes a free-for-all.
“It’s gotten wilder. Way too wild,” said Destiny Rios, 11, who’s seen her share of money dives.
“Sometimes there’s at least four people bumping heads getting money,” Garrett said.
The money grab is part of the class rules to keep kids vigilant, and if cash is touching the floor, it’s anybody’s dollar.
“If they lose their money, too bad. So sad,” Lorance said. “I’m not replacing it. It’s just like the real world.”
So far, it seems to work.
“Once you drop it, you’re never going to drop it again,” Destiny said.
Lorance even planned for counterfeiting by buying the last and only brand of cash at a sports store.
Overall, the process seems effective though it requires extra effort to manage the 27 students.
Grades are rising, and Garrett is anxious to spend his savings.
I’m working in GameSalad today, much as I did yesterday. Trying to get a jump on this summer when I’m supposed to be teaching a class on this software. So far…so good. It’s not a completely realized program yet…though it is pretty good. But some things are certainly missing - like when I resize an “actor” on the stage, there’s no easy way to view it’s width and height. At least as far as I’m aware of. It is possible to get the info, but it’s not the most logical thing. I’d have to create two actors specifically designed to display the width and height. And that’s all they’d be there for.
So there are things that can certainly be improved in GS…but overall, I think I’m enjoying it. I (along with a few other people) suggested GS to iD Tech as another game design class without the “programming” (well, at least without writing code). It’s not as fully realized as Multimedia Fusion…but then again, Fusion has about 17 years of work behind it :-)
If you happen to stumble upon this, please don’t get mad :-) I just thought it would be fun to parody your song, “Freak the Freak Out”, which is, by the way, so awesome! Ridiculously catchy and constantly stuck in my head.
But I digress…I do hope you hear this one day :-) Don’t worry, the lyrics are clean (well, the words “Puke my guts out” and “wee” are in there…but those aren’t too bad right?). I can’t actually sing this song…but I liked the words I made up :-D It’s all about eating way too much :-D
I realize I don’t really have these anymore. How depressing is that? I’m just kind of here. Right now my biggest goal is pretty much to not die and be a nice person so that when I DO die, someone will say something nice at my funeral.
The dreams are there I think. Trapped deep inside my head…I just don’t have the energy anymore to do anything. Sometimes I wonder if my life would be better had I never decided to become a teacher. I gave EVERYTHING to that job. And it wasn’t enough. And I don’t feel like I have anything left. And if I do, I don’t know how to get to it with enough regularity to make a difference.
I would like to be on the Disney Channel. I would like to be a great force in kids’ entertainment. I just..haven’t figured out exactly how to get there. I’d also like to be a hobbyist programmer and writer while I’m at it.
So for now…sigh…there’s lots of groping and stumbling in the dark. And days where it feels like the dark will simply swallow me whole. And days where I wish it would just swallow me whole and things would be some much easier…