Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Power of Skype

As financial and economic educators, we have an obligation to prepare future generations to make wise and understood money management choices. We provide our students with recommended curriculum, engaging activities, and educational simulations. Most importantly, we give our students our hearts. Yet, we can do more.

The corporate community has a lot to offer our students, and many want to help. The challenging obstacle is connecting your classroom time to their limited free time.

The answer: Skype.

Skype is a free service that allows you to video conference with others around the globe.

In the development of my student-run financial literacy organization, TeenDollars, I hosted Jerry Carstens, the former Vice-President at Proctor & Gamble and John Morris, the Chief Operating Officer at the University of Cincinnati Economic Center for Education & Research. Using Skype, an accountant spoke to my Business II class about managing the books in a business. Mark Knue, the Vice-President of Victory Wholesale spoke to my Business II class about the functions of running a business.

Imagine the possibilities.

I have had great success bringing in bankers, financial advisors, bankruptcy attorneys, insurance professionals, and others for an entire class period. Although I want to do more.

Moving forward, I have scheduled professionals from these fields to speak via Skype as a hook for the first fifteen minutes of my class. Pat O'Brien, an accomplished author on college and career readiness, will be speaking to my class in the coming weeks. An insurance professional will speak to my Personal Finance class about annuities. The list goes on...

Most importantly, you can guide the speaker's time with a specific topic and a student-generated list of questions. With this direction and a more narrow window of time to fill, the speakers will be more effective and more willing to volunteer their time.

Now it is your turn. Please feel free to share your ideas of how you will use Skype to enrich your classroom and content.

About the Author:
Brian Page is currently a Finance and Economic Educator with Reading Community City Schools. He has won various 'Teacher of the Year' awards and was recently VISA's 'Financial Innovator of the Month'. He serves on state and national committees including the BizWorld Education Advisory Council and the Ohio Commission on Personal Finance Education. He has presented at a number of conferences, and his co-created game (Awesome Island) was just announced as the Institute for Financial Literacy's EIFLE Award winner for 'Best Instructional Game, Tabletop'. He currently holds a BBA and MEd. Mr. Page is also a Director of Coaching with one of the largest soccer organizations in the country, leading the Community Outreach Program.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teachers & Twitter

Why Twitter for teachers? Twitter provides us the opportunity to learn, share, collaborate, and follow leading edge information in our content areas. It allows us to narrow our streaming news from quality sources to specific interests and content that translates into student learning and engagement. It brings to life material for us, which makes it easier to bring to life material for our students. Although there are a number of ways to incorporate Twitter into our classrooms, there are three specific techniques that have been most effective for me.
First, as a financial educator, I need to be aware of the never-ending evolution of information in my content area. I am very careful about who I choose to follow, as the information I am collecting could ultimately be brought into my classroom. I have chosen to follow key financial literacy organizations, opinion leading economists, highly respected personal finance bloggers, key government organizations, and other key leaders in the field. Obviously, you can apply this thinking to your own situation.
Second, government and financial literacy organizations often tweet engaging student contests that add more enrichment to your classroom. For example, this past fall we participated in the Ohio Attorney General's Office 'Speak Out Ohio' consumer protection contest for students. The St. Louis Fed created a YouTube contest on saving. Jump$tart supported a drawing contest for younger children. My Reading High School students run a financial literacy organization called
TeenDollars, which created an online financial education game contest. These are just a few of the numerous student contest opportunities I have made available to my students as a result of Twitter.
Third, as educators we are responsible for differentiating instruction for all of our student ability levels and interests. In my room, I have various anchor activities readily available for students if they complete their assignments early. One of the options is a collection of financial education articles consistent with the curriculum, with varying degrees of difficulty. The articles are student centered, and provide additional learning opportunities in the areas the students are interested in the most. These articles derive from my Twitter account.
If you are interested in following me on Twitter, you can do so by
clicking here.