Every year, the fourth graders get to experience being business owners. The culmination of their Unit of Study on Economics (which falls under the Transdisciplinary Theme of How We Organize Ourselves) has them opening a business for their peers.
I may not be in fourth grade this year, but it's still one of my favorite summative assessment experiences ever. Most nine and ten year olds aren't terribly versed in finances. At all. And where I teach, most nine and ten year olds live a rather indulgent life. But for a good six weeks or so, they become more aware, more careful, and more involved in the way the world works when it comes to money.
Aside from the awesome summative, there are two reasons that I really like sharing this unit's learning experiences with the kids.
First, it's very heavily supported by literature. Good literature. Mostly picture books, too, though there are novels used for book clubs as well. I love reading aloud to my students. I love being able to pause and leave them hanging (literally filling the room with "c'mon Ms. Diem, don't stop there!" cries.) I also love watching the lightbulbs go off, almost like those little pop caps that explode when you throw them on the cement. With this unit being in the theme of organization, those lightbulbs often relate to the fact that connections are everywhere. EVERY. WHERE. The choice you make when picking out what you want for lunch does indeed connect to what the farmer grows, and so on and so on.
Second, it's one of the most real-worldly connected units we've got. Yeah, sure, money always lends itself to real world, but this unit? It leads the real world into the classroom, and not the other way around. From watching T. Rowe Price commercials to determine how things are connected to each other, to simulations to experience market, command, and traditional economies, this unit brings the real experiences right into the room. We all know that real world experiences make the most meaningful learning, right? Right.
Anyway, this year's International Day of Trade (formerly, by the way, known as Market Day,) was another high energy experience. It seems that every year, the classes get more and more creative with their products and services. Third grade leads nicely into this unit, as they create a business plan for their summative assessment, and I love seeing how it all comes together in this fourth grade learning adventure!