Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Class Learns Economics

This week we started a new unit in social studies: economics. The past two days we were politely discussing wants, needs, jobs, money, and all of that shebang when I had a seemingly brilliant idea: let's make our classroom its OWN economy.

I already give out "Good Choice Sticks" to students who make good choices and they are able to redeem 10 of them for a trip to the beloved treasure box, where they can pick out a super cool pencil or tub of playdough or, recently added, a new silly band. (Oh, silly bands. The pogs of this generation.)

But instead, I decided to make a real-life economy in our classroom and use the sticks somewhat like money. I created classroom jobs and each student was going to get a job. Every day if they did their job well and diligently, they get paid 1 stick. They can also earn bonuses (extra sticks) if they are seen making extra efforts or extremely good choices.

Then I created things that the students could buy with their sticks when they save them up. These things include: Pillow Use for a whole day (5 sticks), No Shoes in the Classroom (8 sticks), Powerpoint Helper (8 sticks), iPod Touch Time (10 sticks), Computer Time (10 sticks), and Treasure Box (12 sticks).

I thought, oh my gosh this is going to be so GREAT! My kids are going to LOVE THIS!

I forgot, though, that I probably have THE most sensitive class in the entire world. And? It's the BOYS that are sensitive!

It was the biggest ordeal of the entire year. I almost started crying, I was SO frustrated. The first round I decided to draw kids' names out of a hat and let them choose their job. This took FOREVER because nobody could decide so I decided to instead draw for the JOBS the kids' names and assign them. Oh. My. Gosh. Tears. Terential fits and upset children. Kids were crying because they didn't get the job they wanted. Some wandered into corners to pout. It was like an outbreak. I was completely at a loss. So for the THIRD go-around, I decided to put the JOBS in a cup and let the kids draw one out. "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." Right? It just turned into utter confusion because now the kids had changed classroom jobs 3 times and...I just felt like a terrible teacher. I had the whole thing planned out SO well! Powerpoint slides to help me teach it and everything! We were going to discuss needs, wants, how to make choices with our stick money...

Some days I just really don't know what to expect. I think the day is going to go so so well, I over-plan and get super excited for what is to come. And then it doesn't always go that way. I'm just trying to continue to roll with the punches. AND I also hope that this Class Economy thing is going to really work. I can't wait to see all my students settle into their jobs and do them with ease, earn their money, save and make choices to buy's GOING to be good. I know it will. Just...the first day was a bit rough.

Something I told them today, though, was: You don't always get the things you want. And this is the real world...this is real life. You don't always have the JOB you want, either. Some people do...and they love it. Others don't...

It really got me thinking. How beyond blessed am I that even with meltdowns and outbreaks and crazy jungle animal students, I still have grace and mercy on them because of the one who lives inside of me... How beyond blessed am I to do what I absolutely love?

I hope they learn. Most of all though I hope they learn to love.

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