We welcome this guest post by Maestra Nikki -
On Tuesday, April 30th, our 5th and 6th grade class took a trip to Junior Achievement’s BizTown…However, even as I type the word “trip”, I realize that it doesn’t accurately describe the four-week-long, interactive, economics unit that culminated in an all-day simulation on Tuesday.
During the month of April, my students learned about the economy, work-readiness, taxes, financial responsibility and philanthropy through the JA BizTown curriculum. Each student learned skills that would prepare them for life after school. They learned how to interview for a job, practiced how to write checks and balance their accounts, and tried out new words like human resources, interest, and net pay.
After a month of classroom practice, we were assigned three businesses to actually run on simulation day. During this mega-interactive day, several hundred kids from three schools gather to practice their new skills. Students run their business throughout the day and pay the banks back while still trying to earn a profit. When students aren’t running a business, they take two breaks to deposit their paychecks at a KeyBank run by students, and use their checks, “Bizbucks,” and debit cards to spend at student run stores. The entire town is the size of a large gymnasium and constructed to be realistic and complex. There are construction workers, four foot six insurance agents, and a non-profit organization. There is even a city hall run by an eleven year old mayor with a clipboard.
On the day of the simulation, our kids joined the other two schools and hit the ground running. In the first hour, the kids began applying for business loans, setting prices, open checking and savings accounts and paid taxes. The CFOs created checks for payroll and paid invoices for store operating costs. There were lots of wide eyes and busy hands.
As students practiced and learned from their mistakes, I got to see our kids begin to shift from anxious learners to independent experts. After the first hour, our CFO’s no longer looked to the adults for direction. They had their groove down, and delegated work when it started getting tough. I no longer needed to tell kids to endorse checks and tear out deposit slips; they were helping others in line at the bank with these tasks.
Throughout the day, our amazing parent volunteers shared their observations with me: Leslie was learning to juggle her new responsibilities as a newspaper editor and CEO. Nicholas and Chloe were grace under pressure at the Wellness Center. Lucciano and Cali marketed products at Fred Meyer with flare. Lindsay, Matix, and Marcella looked like pros as they took the blood pressure, height and weight of other kids. Jackson and Maddie were so driven to take photos for the newspaper. Julian was recognized by the Mayor as Citizen of the Day. Joe, the reporter for the town’s newspaper, didn’t budge from his computer once until he collected his stories. He later proudly showed me all of his work that would later go into the printed newspapers. Honestly, I could go on and on about all of them. In fact, I plan on doing just that.
I’m so proud of all of them. They took this project seriously because they wanted to be ready for “work”. I’m also so impressed by their dedication on simulation day and their refusal to give up when things got…real.