Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Here we go...

Finally, August is here. For me, this means the fun is about to begin. I am ready to apply the fresh ideas from my summer reading into my lessons. I am eager to see the looks on the kids' faces when they experience a lesson that makes a difference to them, especially when it is the product of my summer learning. With that said, I am most excited about watching my students play Awesome Island, and the engaging atmosphere that comes with it.

I have to say that my favorite summer tip came from Stacey Roshan, who uses 'flipping' in her course. There are numerous possibilities that come with finding or creating Khan Academy type videos for your coursework. Downloadable video's for our students provide the opportunity for flipping, anchor activities, differentiated classroom approaches, homework, among other techniques. If you go to the Khan Academy website, you can see for yourself in the Finance Section, as well as the Valuation & Investing Section, the educational videos that are going to be helpful for Personal Finance and Economics students. For those of you who do not teach Finance or Economics, you will be pleased with the videos designed for other content areas such as math, science, and history.

Please share how you made yourself better this summer in the blog response below so you can better others, as I will pass on your learning via this blog and the Awesome_Island Twitter account.


  1. Only 3% of the population sets goals. It's very difficult to achieve success if we don't know what success looks like. Hence the reason to write it down. Do you want to see your kids performance taken up a notch this year? Then have them create some SMART goals (Simple, Measurable, Achievable, wRitten, and Timely). Give them the challenge of writing down 2 personal goals and 2 classroom goals. Have them challenge themselves. We did this in a 5th and 9th grade class last year and results were amazing. Give it a try. It has made me a firm believer and it's something I do now in my day to day life. You can read our blogs on goal setting at

  2. I always like the personal finance exercise of building a clothing budget - teens always seem to relate to it well. You can do it in a group teen environment where kids shout out what should be in the budget and tips for reducing the total (i.e., swapping out designer jeans bought at a store with ones off eBay).

    Here's how the exercise was conducted in a financial literacy workshop earlier this year:

    and here's a sample clothing budget:

  3. First of all, kudos to you, Brian, for spending time this summer looking for new ideas for your classroom. Being excited to start a school year with new students is a telltale sign of a high quality, dedicated teacher.

    Now…what did I learn this summer? I tried to balance working on MoneyTrail and being a stay-at-home mom to our four kids. One thing that I saw over and over again is the importance of consistency of attitude about money management.

    We spent time doing college visits this summer with our oldest child, which led to many financial discussions. I also encouraged all of our kids to come up with jobs to earn their own spending/saving money during the summer. The jobs have included: steam cleaning carpets, photography, guitar lessons and folding laundry. As the conversations and jobs took place over the summer, I saw that the attitude of my kids toward money was not consistent. Some days they were frugal and thrifty; other days they didn’t care a bit about budget or plans. I learned that even if you have good money management skills, a consistent attitude toward money is a key to successfully sticking to your goals.

    I also spent time this summer learning some new web design skills and marketing techniques. Trying to teach this old dog some new tricks!