Teacher at Fox Meadow Elementary School
Scarsdale, New York, USA
A great opportunity for growth and maturity
“After five weeks of making and selling, they are starting to feel how much work it is to run a business. They are still engaged, creating new products and coming up with new strategies to sell them, but I think they are really feeling the stress, which is interesting and very real.”
The use of technology in the classrooms of Fox Meadow Elementary School has grown tremendously over the past few years. All the 3rd - 5th grade students have their own internet-connected computers to work with in school and they are very comfortable with technology. Collaborative tools are key, according to teacher Katherine Marshall: “It helps students to access more information, create more expressions and share their discoveries with others. It's a great time to be a teacher.”
Using Yammer and SharePoint, Katherine’s students are able to see what other children are doing – and they are inspired to do more, as well as learn more about different countries. With OneNote, they are able to keep all their documents in one place, which allows for seamless collaboration. “They learned how to do things that I didn't know how to do, just by keeping at it and trying different things until they got it working,” says Katherine.
Her focus is on teaching her students how to be learners, rather than teaching subjects, and considers the Global Enterprise Challenge to be perfect for teaching 21st century skills: “They need to be problem-solvers and work collaboratively with people they might not ordinarily hang out with. They also need to be able to use technology without fear, knowing that it will sometimes be a struggle, but worthwhile. In all my lessons, I am the orchestrator, but the students are the ones doing the vast majority of the work.
“I am a creative person - I think most teachers are. Technology is a tool for creativity, which is why I am so passionate about it. But it's also so much more. I am able to do things I never could have done 20 years ago and I am excited to be growing students who will go much farther that we can even imagine."
“I hope my students, and all students, will discover the joy in learning, creating and problem-solving. I hope they learn to benefit from, and contribute to, relationships with others as they work together, moving forward, creating a better world.”
Fox Meadow and the Global Enterprise Challenge (GEC)
Katherine’s students have benefited from the worldwide collaboration using the tools on the GEC website. Communicating with students who were in the same company, but in a different country, they bounced ideas back and forth, gave advice and just socialised, learning about other children’s way of life.
While the students have not used Skype, the teachers did, and they gained a lot from the conversation they had with the GEC leaders and some of the school leaders in other countries, asking questions and getting clarification when they were starting out: “This was important,” says Katherine, “because, as teachers, we have many other responsibilities, so taking on something additional like this could be very intimidating. Having them ready to help was awesome.”
Learning through the Challenge
At Fox Meadow, each GEC company sells its products in the lunch hour on a different day of the week. The students have to make sure they have all their inventory ready the week before, or make things at home over the weekend. They have to count all the items and take inventory before they sell. All the prices have to be set, the merchandise set out and clearly labelled. Each group has a money box with change, and one person is designated by the group to take the money and give change to the customers. Other people have the job of making an announcement so that children will come to the store, and still others are busy promoting and explaining the products to customers. At the end of the hour, they must again take inventory, count the money and figure out how much profit they made for the day. Then they have to clean up and make plans for what they need to get/make by the following week.
Katherine recognises that it has been a big challenge for the students to work together, boys and girls, friends and not, all working for the good of the business. They have had to create roles for themselves and struggle with issues of leadership and power. And there is never enough time to do the things they want to do in the way they want to: “After five weeks of making and selling, they are starting to feel how much work it is to run a business. They are still engaged creating new products and coming up with new strategies to sell them, but I think they are really feeling the stress, which is interesting and very real.
“They are learning to work with people who were not in their ‘friends group’ before. They report that their commitment and drive to succeed in their business made them struggle to get along and solve problems, where they might ordinarily have just walked away. I think this sort of adaptability, drive and acceptance of others has the potential to transfer to all areas of their lives.
“Overall, this has been a great opportunity for growth and maturity that I don't think they would have gotten otherwise. I have been surprised at how independent they have become. They have really taken ownership of their enterprise.”