The First Day
The first day of a new tool is the most important. Just like the first day of school, the atmosphere that you create helps to form the habits and interactions of your students for the rest of the year.
Start with the basics. It can be overwhelming to your students to show them everything that might happen throughout the year on the first day. When students become engaged in the program, you can start introducing more features and activities. Set up your course beforehand so that every student has one job and one bill, and there are a few items in your store. When introducing QuarterSprout, keep your excitement up! Talk about it as a game and an opportunity for students to take control of an economy. Avoid talking about it as an assignment or required participation. Emphasize that other than deciding whether or not to pay students, the economy will be controlled by them - not by you. As the year progresses, they will get to vote and make decisions about interest rates, inflation, company formations, loans, etc.
The default job, "Student", is given to everyone automatically. Discuss with your class what the exact requirements are for them to get paid. This could be a list of class rules that need to be followed, or a more specific requirement like coming to class prepared and on time. Every day you will log the student timecards, marking each student as being paid, not paid or absent. On pay day, the students will receive a check for each timecard where they are marked as paid.
Tell students that they each have two bank accounts: a checking account and a savings account. Their paychecks will be deposited to their checking accounts. Any purchases, bills or wire transfers will come out of this account. At any point they can move money into their savings accounts. Every week, the savings account will accrue interest. They must leave enough money in their checking accounts to cover bills, fines during the class period or store purchases that they want to make.
A good bill to start the year with is Desk Rent. Every week the amount that you set the bill to will be automatically withdrawn from a student's account. Don't go too much into detail about what a credit score is yet, but mention that letting their checking account go negative to pay bills will also affect their credit score.
You also want to start with a few items in the store, so that students have an incentive to want to earn money! (besides a feeling of competition which is always a strong driver, too). School supplies like pencils and paper are a great start, as well as some benefits like getting to eat or drink in class or choosing where your desk is.
If possible, always keep the app open on a computer in your room. That way, you can easily give out rewards for positive behaviors and fines for negative behaviors. Otherwise, you can hire a student to be a recorded. During a class period, that person can make a note of anytime you want to reward or fine a student. After class you can go in and make those transactions. Side note: hire students to do lots of extra little tasks like this for you! They will want the extra income, and it helps you keep your class running smoothly.
During the first class period, give out at least one individual or class bonus and at least one fine. Show them how you will log their timecards at the end of the day and how they can access a calendar that shows every timecard.
Remember that the number one goal is for students to feel like this is fun and that they have control. They will surprise you with their ingenuity, drive and entrepreneurship!
Modifying Your Economy For Virtual Learning
Changing everything about your classroom to accommodate distance or blended learning models can be daunting. A classroom economy seems like something that would be scrapped in the transition, but it doesn't have to! Even from a distance a well run classroom economy is engaging, exciting, and encourages interaction among your students. Here are some ideas to help you transition your economy out of the physical classroom.
Timecards: Have students earn their pay by checking in with you, or logging on to a class site. This can be daily or even weekly with higher pay if students are not required to check in every day.
Employments: Think of jobs that could help facilitate social interaction among your students or that could help you do your job better. For example, you could have students check in on one another to see if they need extra help in a certain subject, IT help, or maybe they just need their day brightened by a silly joke.
Store Items: Sell rights that the student can use such as - picking a hat for the teacher to wear the whole day, changing the teacher's virtual background, etc. Parents or the PTA can donate small gift cards or local restaurant coupons. Allow students to add things to the store. They might be able to offer things such as artwork or help teaching a new skill. You will be surprised how creative they are!
Always let students have a say in what happens in their economy. If you open the floor to their ideas, they become invested in the outcome and are more likely to be engaged. Good luck, and have a great 2020-2021 school year!
To The Beginning!
The past year has been a whirlwind for us of starting a business and beta testing our product. We have always been driven by our passion and firm belief in the need to get students to learn financial literacy and economics. These skills are essential in the society we live in, and we believe that experiencing the feeling of getting a paycheck, the pain of missing a bill, the thrill of starting a company, or the conflict in choosing to take on debt is the best way to help the next generation learn.
The features in our first release:
- Daily timecard logging and a calendar to help track student success
- Jobs that can be done by an individual student
- The formation of companies
- A store where students can spend their money
- Recurring bills
- Student to student loans
- Student to student transactions
- Checking and savings accounts
- A federal reserve bank to control inflation
- Income tax and sales tax collection
- Charitable donations that will be converted into real money donations
- Google Classroom Integration
- Fast and easy rostering
Keep checking back for new features! We are continuing to develop QuarterSprout and are so excited about what we have in the pipeline.