In a previous unit, The Economics of Food, I started the kids on a stock market simulation game. We spent a couple of weeks on it in math class and since then, it has taken on a life of its own. Most of the students have kept up with it on their own and before class begins, they often log in and share.
After scouring the Internet for a good one, I settled on StocksQuest (http://stocksquest.coe.uga.edu). It is very easy to set up a private or public game for others to join and it is free.
There are also free lesson for teachers. Each player in our game started with one million dollars. For each stock they purchase, there is a place to leave a note explaining why you chose it. We have used Google Finance and Yahoo Finance to check the performance of various stocks and read relevant stories that may explain why they have gone up or down. For the most part, my kids choose companies they are familiar with and their reasons are typically personal. Nevertheless, our class has beaten the market average. Since we started a couple of months ago, I have almost a third of my students up at least 10 percent. Not bad!
On Slideshare, I just found a rubric (more like a checklist) that a teacher made to keep students on track and assess their portfolios. Check it out: http://www.slideshare.net/rraney/virtual-economics-stock-project-grading-rubric
When I started looking around for materials at this grade level about financial literacy, I was stunned at how much is out there. If you read 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad', you may know that the author, Robert Kiyosaki created a board game called 'Cashflow' to teach financial literacy to kids. They later made it into a computer game and it has recently been made available online for free: http://www.richdad.com/ This is another one that my students are crazy about. When you start the game, you are given a character. It isn't always fair. You may be a lawyer with no kids or you could be a custodian with several kids and heavy mortgage payments. In any case, you have your monthly income and expenses laid out on balance sheets. Your goal is to have your passive income (from property, investments etc...) to be greater than your expenses. Then, you can get out of the 'Rat Race' and onto the 'Fast Track'. There is a lot here to support your Math program and probably Social Studies too.
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