While I am a curriculum and instruction consultant at McREL, I am also a father. Today I chaperoned my fifth grade son’s class trip to Ameritowne. These experts in financial education develop the financial literacy of young people through real-life experiences and hands-on programs. They use simulated communities such as Ameritowne, International Towne, and others. They also use the Classroom Instruction that Works strategy category of Generating and Testing Hypotheses. Specifically, students problem solve, make decisions, and analyze systems as they try to run simulated businesses, governments, nonprofits, and other institutions found in a community. Each “store front” is sponsored by a real organization in the actual community. More information can be found at http://www.yacenter.org.
This was a great example of how dynamic experiences can build student background knowledge and thinking skills. The students governed the town, produced television news coverage, bought and sold goods, ran charities, produced products, and more. They had to analyze conditions within the community (system) and decide what to do. They then tested their plans as they ran the community. The adults were there just to advise and assist. It was wonderful to see how well the students did in their work. Do you have any examples of real-world simulations that use Generation and Testing Hypotheses in other content areas? If so, share it with us in a comment to this posting.
By Matt Kuhn – McREL Lead Consultant