Week 6 – Student Banking Chaos, Tests Without Grades, and Cheez-Its

Week 6 is coming to a close.  I’ve gone home this week a few more times a bit more flustered than usual, mainly because of the chaos of getting students familiar with our classroom economy online banking system.  But at least I had Cheez-It’s to comfort me.  Oh, and I’m not writing grades on tests anymore either.

I saw a video recently about a math teacher who will highlight where students made mistakes on their tests and doesn’t put the actual grade on the top of the test.  She posts grades online the day after they get their test.  I decided to give that a shot for a few reasons.  I see a lot of kids see that grade (especially if it’s low) and they just think ‘well…I suck at this…whatever’ and put the test away.  It’s defeating and all the emphasis is on the grade.  I told them that I wanted them to have a growth mindset and use the feedback I give them on a test to see where they still have misconceptions and how they can learn from their mistakes.  I then handed back their quizzes and gave them 5 or so minutes to discuss with their peers or with me the mistakes they made.  Great aha moments happened during those times.  They get a chance to reassess if they do corrections.

CHEEZ-IT SQUARE ROOTS

This summer I saved a square root lesson by Julie Reulbach into my Pre-Algebra Evernote folder.  I had my own ‘aha’ moment just reading through her lesson.  Students create squares out of cheez-it’s.  They realize they can’t make perfect squares out of numbers like 6 or 8, but they can with numbers like 9, 16, 25, 36, etc.  My little lightbulb moment was ‘ohhhh…PERFECT SQUARES!’  Students said it was a pretty tasty lesson.  I created a slideshow to help guide my questions and HERE is the graphic organizer they went through.

RENT / PAYDAY / BONUS \$\$ / LEDGER SHEETS

This week was our first week where students got to get bonus money for various things (academics, extra-curriculars, writing book reports on leisurely reads, etc).  It was also the first week where they were having direct-deposit for their jobs and automatic withdrawals for their rent.  I went through what counts as bonus money, they logged it on a bonus money sheet, and went to their bankers who deposited in their banks.  That was easy enough, just took a while to get through what counted as bonus money and what didn’t- I decided to take more time on it early on the year so I wouldn’t get consistent confusion throughout the year.

I then had them log in to see their banking activity over the last few days with the direct deposts and rent withdrawals.  I wanted them write all that activity on their bank log ledger sheets.  We had conversations about the importance of tracking your spending and making sure the bank didn’t make any errors.  This is where things started falling apart.

The system I use is mykidsbank.org.  It’s pretty great but it has a few nuances that can be confusing to students.  For one, you can’t have all your recent transactions across months on one screen.  It shows just September or just October, and to switch between monthis is this tiny little link that says 9/2015.  Also, when I set up the automatic transactions, I only have control over whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly.  I can’t control which day they occur though.  Since both of them are monthly, they happen on the last day of the month.  Unfortunately, rent ends up getting withdrawn first (before they get their paycheck) and so it sends kids into debt and then immediately takes them out because of direct deposit.  Not a huge deal but can be confusing and seems like something I should be able to control as a bank administrator.  It all got sorted out and most students had matching balances on their online banks and their paper bank logs, it just took most of the class period to do it.  I know it’ll go by faster next time.

By Thom H Gibson

I help middle school STEM teachers create meaningful & memorable experiences for their students. Teacher, podcaster, YouTuber. Two-time teacher of the year