My thirteen-year-old daughter takes out her wireless earbuds and asks, “What is hummus made of?” Me: “I don’t know, google it.”
When I was 13 here is how that conversation went down. I remove my headphones from my portable tape player, you can hear Madonna’s Like a Virgin playing, “Mom, can you take me to the library?”
Me: “I need to write a paper on how hummus is made.”
Mom: “You can walk, be back for dinner.”
I had the experience of tangibility. I could touch a book or paper, I had to physically take notes on a notecard. All of these experiences were satisfying and fulfilling, giving a sense of accomplishment. Today, my thirteen-year-old can find anything online except tangibility. A tutorial on how to create a Jacobs ladder with string, a recipe, a Vlog, a newspaper article. The possibilities are endless and the information isn’t very reliable or valid. The same with our students. As a reflective teacher, I evaluate what they know using data, summative and formative assessments, and online tools. I have an interactive, online classroom. I align the content to standards and incorporate career ready practices so they can navigate their lives in a virtual world.
Last semester I had an epiphany. I was teaching a lesson on checking accounts and how to pay bills online. I had a great online simulation. They were emailed a bill and had to login to the virtual bank to pay a bill. Seems really simple, right? Juniors and Seniors, who are working should understand how that works. They looked at me with blank stares. They wanted to know what this foreign document with numbers and addresses and a waste management logo was.
“It’s a bill,” I said.
“We don’t understand.”, they said.
“Have you ever seen a bill?” I queried.
“No.”, was the mind-blowing response.
Being a reflective teacher means I changed my lesson, right there, in the middle of class. I pulled up the bill on my laptop and cast it to the TV, I explained what each section was and asked them to chat me in the online classroom what a bill is, what important information you obtain from it and what were you supposed to do with it.
Being a reflective teacher also meant they needed tangibles for basic concepts such as checks and bills and mailing a bill. By creating an online survey, I found out that 90% of my students had never been in a bank, did not know what a bill was, had never used a check and had only written down an address on an envelope in second grade when it was for a lesson.
Here is how I corporate tangibles in my online, interactive Personal Finance classroom.
- They create and print checks from https://www.educationworld.com/tools_templates/template_kid_check.doc
- The Wall Street Journal provides a free class subscription for teachers. On a daily basis, my student’s on the bell activity is to skim through the paper, choose an article and compose a 140 character “tweet”. They send me the tweet via chat and I respond individually with feedback. I then select and tweet some of the student’s posts on my classroom twitter account @Econ4O. https://education.wsj.com/ @WSJ
- The Consumer Protection Bureau and Securities and Exchange Commission has free booklets, brochures and classroom worksheets I incorporate to help my students set a money goal, plan for retirement and learn about fraud. They take the material home to review with parents. They provide resources from age 2 to 100 and it saves you and the district valuable time and money on copying costs. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/
Being reflective means you care enough to provide the students with what they need to become a career-ready individual in a way that is meaningful and data-based. For more information or more insight into my daily lessons and resources I use you can follow my tweet @finfitfam