I've been having a personal debate with myself for the past few weeks and would love some thoughts from all of you. I have hesitated posting this question because I am afraid of offending others, but I figure we can all be open-minded and practice the "to each his own" theory.
By nature I am a 'cutesy/theme-loving teacher.' I do love catchy phrases and gimmicks and have often incorporated them into my classroom (i.e. beach theme='surfing the net' over the computer).
I was asked at the end of last year to run a workshop for my district about some of the things I use in my classroom. I talked about my classroom economy. Certainly it is not unique and I know lots of classes use them, but I just focused on the benefits of it in my room and how I run it.
The teachers loved the idea and many are using it. Recently I went to lunch with a bunch of coworkers and they started talking about the cutesy money systems they were designing (Buckeroo Bucks, Cooper Cash (to go with the teacher's last name) and since I have a beach theme again this year they suggested I use 'Sand Dollars.'
I think it sounds really cute, but I am a little concerned because the thing I REALLY love about my classroom economy is that it is a GREAT way to incorporate real life skills into the daily routines. The kids learn about saving and spending and most importantly they have a hands-on method of practicing real money skills since I use plastic coins and paper dollars that are realistic.
I have been asked to do a mini-presentation in August at our school-wide meeting and I would like to point out this fact. However, I am concerned that I will offend others who had now planned on teaching children that 3 buggy tokens equals 1 insect dollar that can be used to buy trinkets.
At the same time I think it is such a good opportunity to teach kids money skills and I am worried that too many are going to waste that opportunity by trying to be too cute.
Again, please don't take offense to this if you are one of the teachers who uses the cute money words. I am not trying to judge. I just personally feel responsible because I was asked to present something to the staff because of how beneficial it was to my students and I feel as though I am doing a disservice by not saying something...but feel as though I may offend if I do.
As a SpEd teacher, money is one of the most important life skills I hope to instill in my students (after self-care). I vote to leave the money in realistic terms. Too many people, even of normal or above average intelligence, today in real life struggle to understand this concept as it is.
Think about our biggest vents on this site:
1. mangaging/living on a low teachers salary.
2. spoiled, self-indulgent children who don't know the value of the dollar.
3. the cost of everyday/necessary items.
4. the work ethic among service people.
Even some smaller vents are related--like people failing to count your change back or giving you the wrong change. So I would like to see you strongly encourage the teacher to have it based in reality. Maybe they could compromise and call their "Bucks" a cutesy name but leave all the values, coin names and other exchanges realistic. After all, real one dollar bills get called ones, singles, bucks, and so on.
You could address it by explaining that that is part of the reason you chose to keep this system in place--in order to give them early practice with money concepts.
Last edited by Lottalove; 07-24-2007 at 06:56 AM..
Reason: forgot to address the whole question
I hear what youre saying. I think if you present it how you do it and how it has benefited your students I dont think anyone will take offense. On the other hand if you say...if you dont do it my way or making it too cutesy and silly defies the purpose I think you will offend many. I think I would just lay it out there and some will do it right and some wont. You cant change what others will do, but at the risk of upsetting your collegues I would choose your words wisely.
I plan on doing a classroom economy, as well, because it goes right along with my math and social studies curriculum and is a way to bring the skills that you have talked about to life. Like you, I am not going to use it as a trade in your bucks and go to the treasure box system.
I had decided I was going to create my own money, which I did. However, I purchased a solar powered cash register that came with some very realistic looking money. So, now, I may just use that and see if I can find some more play money that looks similar. I think that very few parents teach children about the value of money, how to spend, how to save, how to balance a checkbook, inflation, salaries, how to calculate interest, etc. These are all things that are in my curriculum and that I will cover by incorporating my classroom economy.
If you can find things in your curriculum that you can present to validate why YOU use your economy, I would present that. That way, your coworkers will realize you're not using it as some sort of cutesy, treasure box management system.
I agree with the PPs. If you just present is as YOU do it, and the reasons why you feel this is appropriate, WITHOUT saying that you shouldn't do the other way, I think you will be fine. Just keep driving home the math/real world connection. Also, mention that since you are teaching money in this way (using it day in and day out), you do not need to have formal lessons on it (add/sub decimals, money recognition, making change, etc....) Teachers LOVE that!!
Your post really got me thinking! After replying earlier, I looked online for more information about classroom economies. I found fake money that looks like real money and can be printed off and copied for classroom use. The website for that is www.MoneyInstructor.com
This one is from the National Council on Economic Education. There is a book on this one that has a bunch of lesson plans, templates, ideas, etc. that are appropriate for elementary school. It also has a sample that you can look at. It looks really interesting, and I think I'm going to purchase the book. Hope this helps!
I agree with everyone here so far, that the best option would be to "keep it real." I also agree that there's no need to negate what other teachers may decide to do that's less "real" and more "cutesy."
My two cents is that when we get too caught up in creating cutesy decorations and such, the students are often not as excited as all the effort that went into the creations (so who are we doing it for?); on the other hand, when they themselves help to dream up things to use, they think the world of it (no matter how crude the finished product), and probably end up getting more out of it. So, I do understand the nature of your personal debate. I'm with you.
Bottom line, present the workshop in a way that you're proud of, keeping the students in mind, and beyond that, just concern yourself with how you're teaching in your classroom. Unless you're an administrator, with the authority to strongly suggest particular teaching strategies/formats -- and even then, you'd be met with opposition -- you really can only lead by example.
How can you be sure that they aren't incorporating it into their classrooms because of the value in the skills being taught? They may have loved your idea and then just gotten really into it! When I get excited about something, I tend to spend way too much energy on it....which, by the way it sounds, is what they are doing. They just happen to be focusing on how to bring it into their classrooms and making it cute at the same time. I wouldn't worry about it too much. At the next workshop, talk about what a great way this is for teaching money skills and how it can be basic or cutsie.The cutsie aspect might be what draws in some teachers to use the system....but the system is getting used regardless. Right?
You should be able to use it however you want to in your own classroom. I call mine treasure dollars, because we use them to shop out of the treasure box. Each one is worth $1.00 (Treasure dollar that is). Since my students are second graders it works to keep it simple.
I have a friend who teaches 3rd grade and she uses dollars and cents to reward her students and then allows them to shop with whatever they have when she does her store. Thankfully, we haven't yet reached the point where everything is completely dictated as to how run our classrooms.