Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two hours is too long

It was STAR testing block today and I had to come up with a two hour, five minute engaging exercise that was going to keep Seniors that were already resentful before they walked into the classroom, interested and educated.  How did I do it?  Variety and intelligence.

-Students enter and I explain the schedule.  I crack a couple of jokes and make the mood light, then I explain that students are allowed to eat in class this period.  Students relax a bit.

-I talk about a Freakonomics podcast about the poor savings rate by Americans.  We talk about the cost of emergencies, the necessity of cash on hand, and making sure to pay yourself every month.

-We watch the daily news and I answer questions.

-Our current lesson is about Business Organizations and we discuss the statistic that 85% of restaurants fail in the first two years.  Students write down attributes to successful restaurants.  Students then discuss their favorite restaurants and why they work. 

-We watch a quick video about Next Restaurant in Chicago.  What seems to work and how much might one be willing to pay?   

-Then we read the BusinessWeek Magazine article about Next and analyze the business model.  How will the model work with consumers and the owners?  Will the business model work?

-Give the students a break.  By this time an hour has passed and if we are truly modeling college, a super long class will have either breaks or we get out early.  I give them seven minutes to use the restroom, go to the vending machines, or just lounge outside in the sunshine.  The only thing I ask is that they don’t disturb the other classrooms at all.  I’ve never had a problem and they always return on time.  One hour left.

-We briefly touched on Business Organizations last week (Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships, Corporations, Franchises, Cooperatives).  I hand out an Econ Edlink situational regarding perspective clients wanting to start a sweets business and wanting organizational advice. 

-Students get into groups of 3-4 and write a recommendation for each of the four clients including justification. 

-We come back together as a group and analyze the answers.  We do a little compare and contrast and debate. 

-We then begin about 20 minutes of notes on the advantages and disadvantages of certain business organizations, starting with sole proprietorships. 

-We get to around the disadvantages of sole proprietorships when the bell rings and off they go.

It was perfectly manageable but not really the perfect conditions for learning to occur.  Then again, those idiotic tests that force the block scheduling  aren’t really for learning either.   

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