More discussion and resources on developing financial literacy at high school

I have been surprised at the number of resources I finding on the topic of financial literacy. I came across this post from a teacher who actually teaches financial literacy courses in the high school. His list of resources need to be bookmarked as valuable references. For example:

FinLitTV 

TeenDollars.org

The Stock Market Game

The budget challenge simulation

Awesome Island” game focusing on decision making, credit, debit, money management, insurance, investing, etc. Everfi offers similar simulations.

The idea of an entrepreneurship class is another new one that I hadn’t thought of before, but it certainly is intriguing and could be a real-life application of coursework, too!

Meeting with an admissions counselor

I had the opportunity to meet with a university admissions counselor earlier today. I was interested in getting a sense of what counselors may be considering when they review an application from a student who recently graduated from a new or relatively unknown high school.

I was pleasantly surprised that they were not necessarily looking for the number of honors or AP classes that a student took, per se, but, rather, that applicants could demonstrate that they attempted to challenge themselves in school, especially when considering the various courses that could be taken in the school curriculum. Did the student choose the “easy credits”? Or did the student attempt to engage in a variety of classes throughout the curriculum? Is the student a well-rounded student as a result of the high school experience?

The counselor advised the need to let the university know of the school’s graduation requirements at least a year in advance of the first graduating class. This notification should highlight the minimum graduation requirements and expectations of the school’s students. This was especially important should the school expect the students to participate in service learning, internships or offer other learning opportunities for credit. Based on this provided profile, careful decisions are made regarding admission status.

The counselor didn’t even flinch when we talked about a hybrid high school graduation diploma. To her, this was part of the reality of admitting students in the 21st century.

Overall, I appreciated the opportunity to discuss what a new school needs to consider from a university admissions point of view. Clearly, the need to explicitly express minimum graduation requirements is important. Even more important is to articulate the vision and expectations that a new Christian high school may have for its students as graduates and representatives of the school when they leave to go to college.

Acknowledging certain limitations of the iPad in the classroom

Here are two articles written by the same author attempting to answer the questions: Will iPads replace backpacks? and Will the iPad replace the simplicity and convenience of paper products for higher-level learning tasks?

I like how Ledesma addresses both questions and highlights numerous advantages in using an iPad. For example:

  • An iPad is great tool for research on the Internet and other consumption of web-based media.
  • Most desktop computing can be completed using an iPad.
  • It is possible to access and/or synchronize your files through the iPad.
  • Real-time communication (chat, email, voice) is possible with the iPad.

However, he does acknowledge that there are limitations in screen size and in the ability to access multiple sources easily when using the iPad for certain work.

“Unfortunately, higher-level work, which requires deeper analysis and simultaneous access between multiple sources, may be more than what a single device and small screen can handle.” (2010)

“Technology should make the learning process easier, not harder or more complicated.” (2011)

So, it may seem that students will continue to use their backpacks as they carry around their books, pens and paper which will still be needed for the more academic, higher-order learning tasks.

“Enjoy the iPads for what they are best at, and let’s stop trying to force them to replace tools that they shouldn’t.” (2011)

Reference:

Ledesma, P. (2010, Sept. 14). Schooled on my iPad. Accessed through Education Week Teacher, Nov. 15, 2011.

Ledesma, P. (2011, Nov. 14). iPads in schools: Replacing backpacks? Accessed through Education Week Teacher, Nov. 15, 2011.

Digital textbooks for the classroom

I recall a conversation when I learned that one of the larger annual expenditures for MCS is on textbooks. This can change with access to digital textbooks. They are on average 53% cheaper to develop and print, and this is a savings that can be passed on to the school. Equally important is the stewardship of natural resources that is involved with the publication of these texts. From a student’s immediate perspective, such texts are significantly lighter to carry around and they provide immediate 24/7 access to the materials. This infographic highlights the textbooks of tomorrow.

Virtual texts are becoming more and more interactive, and this is impacting the learning experience for students. An example that I came across was the HMH Fuse interactive text for algebra and geometry. These texts allow students to interact with the material, and include video tutorials, “scratch pads” to actually work out math problems or make notes, animated guidance in error analysis, and hyperlink access to glossaries. Books may embed games as part of the text process and inline quizzes to help students gauge their progress on the material. Texts such as these are immediately accessible and can include syncing features that allow the teachers to access assessment data on student progress from the books. This video highlights the student’s experience with such a text (I admit that this is a promotional video developed by the publisher, but it does suggest how students can take to such an interactive text).

Another version of the virtual text is one that is custom designed and created in-house. When teachers have the time and desire, it is possible to self-publish a text that meets local needs and remains completing aligned to learning standards. This article describes one school in Minnesota that accomplished just this. Their budget crisis served to motivate a group of teachers to develop a text and supporting videos for their subject area.

Reference:

Oseland, C. (2011, Sept. 28). Budget crisis inspires award winning curriculum redesign at Byron Senior High School. THE Journal, accessed Nov. 14, 2011.

The need to develop media literacy

“We no longer live solely in a print-centric world” (Baker, 2010, p. 133). We all have access to the Internet, television, music, images, movies and other emerging technologies. While this seems so evident, why is that schools often fail to help students foster the necessary critical skills that will help them properly access this media? This represents a key 21st century fluency: media literacy.

The 21st Century Fluency Project notes that media literacy is an important fluency that encompasses two components:

1) The ability to look analytically at any communication media to interpret the real message, how the chosen media is being used to shape thinking, and evaluate the efficacy of the message.

2) The ability to create and publish original digital products, matching the media to the intended message by determining the most appropriate and effective media for that message.

I am learning that teachers need to be proactive in teaching media literacy skills. Instructional recommendations suggest that this should not be a separate class, but a topic that is integrated across the curriculum. Media literacy instruction should includes lots of hands-on experiential learning to assist students as they encounter media in their research and daily lives. Through authentic exposure to various forms if media, students are offered the opportunity to develop this set of skills. This can take place as part of individual reflective work or in cooperative group settings.

Baker (2010) notes that goals of media literacy instruction are “to create critical thinkers and viewers who have the skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to understand, analyze, and create media messages, as well as to comprehend their purpose and audiences” (p. 143). He offers a number of interesting classroom applications across the curriculum. It will be worth returning to this chapter again.

It is important, however, that we provide the necessary professional development to support teachers as they engage students on this necessary fluency.

Reference
Baker, F. W. (2010). Media literacy: 21st century literacy skills. In H. Hayes Jacobs (Ed.) Curriculum 21: Essential education for a changing world, (133-152). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

http://www.fluency21.com

A visit with the pastors

I had an important meeting yesterday afternoon to share our developing vision for a new Christian high school in Monroe. The MCS Administrator and I were invited to spend a couple of minutes with a group of pastors from the local churches in Monroe.

We shared our vision for a high school that would equip students for the 21st century; a vision to prepare students for discipleship and stewardship.

I felt it important to communicate how we started on this project together and shared God’s whisper for a new high school. As I mentioned to them, after a rich history of Christian education in the local community for more than 50 years, we believe that now may be the time to consider a new high school for Monroe.

We highlighted that the proposed high school would offer a high quality, Christian, secondary school education that is:

1. Focused on academic excellence; grounded in discipleship, stewardship and service,
2. Meets/exceeds minimum WA high school graduation requirements, and
3. Aligned with knowledge, skills, and competences required for the 21st century.

We ended by asking if the pastors and their churches would help us by praying for this significant expansion on Monroe Christian School, specifically for insight into God’s will for the school, the overall development and implementation process, and that families may come forward to choose Christian education for their children.

The pastors seemed open to our brief presentation. They had a few preliminary questions. One that surprised me was on the overall validity and effectiveness of this new approach to “doing” high school. I do believe that I was able to ease any concerns they might have had. I look forward to their support in prayer as we move forward.

The call for financial literacy instruction

An interesting news item: The Education Secretary has started encouraging the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability to consider recommending that financial literacy instruction be integrated into the K-12 curriculum. Rather than only a high school elective, Secretary Duncan has even suggested that this be a core subject that students may experience in the lower grades.

President Obama convened the council to help people understand financial matters and make responsible financial decisions. This was made evident during the “Great Recession” as far too many people appear to lack the essential financial planning skills to handle their money wisely and invest responsibly for their future.

In addition to the more traditional topics of budgeting, personal finances, credit and loans, Secretary Duncan noted that a financial literacy curriculum could include topics such as the stock market, investing,  and retirement planning.

As Corbin (2011) notes, overall teacher preparedness for instruction in this area may be an issue. This highlights the need to instructioanlly support all teachers with the curricular and instructional demands that they face in the classroom.

Reference:

Corbin, K. (2011, Nov. 8). Education secretary appeals for financial literacy, planning instruction in schools. Accessed November 9, 2011 through onwallstreet.com.

The 100 best Web 2.0 classroom tools

I came across this list of the 100 best Web 2.0 classroom tools as voted by teachers in the field. There are some really good resources in this list, many of which I had never heard before. Some of the tools might be less appropriate for the classroom (i.e. PayPal?), and there are many that may one day become indispensable. What is nice is that each tool is linked to its host site for further exploration.

It is interesting how I found this site, as I was researching Glogster and this list was linked to the site . Glogster is an online poster maker. What is attractive about “glogs” is that students can include text, audio, video, pictures, and more to make the poster quite interactive. In this way, glogs can further engage kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners. In some ways Glogster is a more robust companion to Wordle, which focuses only on beautiful ‘word clouds’.

 

Financial literacy instruction remains important

I discussed the “case for financial literacy instruction” a few months back. Today, I came across some additional resources that may be helpful regarding this important recommendation. Adams (2011) noted that the possibility of accumulating student debt in college during these difficult times is pushing students to learn more about financial literacy. There are currently four states that mandate a financial literacy graduation requirement, and 19 additional states have integrated financial education into their high school curriculum. There is no such requirement in the state of Washington, but this is important enough an issue for student development and stewardship that I have been watching for financial literacy electives when reviewing possible online providers. I am also learning that there are numerous free resources available to help supplement a class curriculum on this topic, including Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy , National Endowment for Financial Education , National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the US Mint.

Reference:

Adams, C. J. (2011, Oct. 28) High schools, colleges push financial literacy. Accessed Nov. 2, 2011 through Education Week.

http://www.orangekids.com/teacher/additional-resources-literacy.aspx

Some ideas on teaching with an iPad

In this Edutopia blog post, the Johnson (2011) muses over what he would do if he had 30 iPads in his classroom. He focuses on two important aspects: using the iPad to engage kinesthetic learners and helping students connect beyond the classroom (access the Internet anywhere, share and collaborate with others, challenge students in creative ways, etc.).

He highlights the potential of an iPad in that it may be a tool that will transform instructional practice. He does warn, though,  “without good software, the Ipad is an expensive door stop, paper weight or frisbee. Fortunately, a dilligent person can find a lot of free stuff to get started.”

What is particularly helpful are the series of moderated comments by other teachers and how they are using iPads and various apps in their teaching. There are a lot of good ideas to consider.

Reference:

Johnson, B. (2011, Oct. 31) Teaching and learning: Using iPads in the classroom. Accessed Nov. 1, 2011 through Edutopia.