Monday, December 14, 2015

Parent Communication

One of my professional goals for this year is to increase parent communication.  This goal is lofty, yet among my most difficult as it takes time and patience, especially since most of my students' parents do not speak English.  @amgonza, one of my first Twitter connections, offers excellent advice in her Education Week Teacher article Tips for Connecting With Non-English Speaking Parents.  It's a nice refresher for ESOL ninjas like myself and definitely a resource that should be shared.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Call for Volunteers-TESOL 2016

The TESOL Convention is coming to Charm City and the organizers are looking for a few good volunteers.  If you are already planning to attend the convention, this is a great way to expand your professional network.  If you are on the fence about coming, keep in mind that volunteers receive a $50 registration refund.  There are a variety of ways to volunteer.  Interested individuals are encouraged to sign up via the Google form.  For more information, please contact

Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Day at JA Finance Park

We are finally in an age when the concept of teaching literacy has expanded to financial literacy.  For the past few months, my students have been learning the ins and outs of financial literacy using materials supplied by Junior Achievement.  This organization is dedicated to "turning kids of today into entrepreneurs of tomorrow".  Throughout the financial literacy unit, students learned the difference between net and gross income, learned about different types of savings accounts, and learned how to create a budget. The capstone lesson was visit to JA Finance Park, where the students had the opportunity to use their knowledge to solve real world problems.

Upon entering Finance Park, each student was issued a tablet and a new grown-up identity.  Some students were single thirty-somethings with six figure incomes.  Others were married, while others were low paid single parents.  Each student had the task of researching his or her assigned career as well as how choices regarding education played a significant role in the assigned income.  They spent the remainder of the morning reviewing the household expenses that would eat up a good chunk of their assigned income.

After lunch came the fun part.  The students created a budget and had to wrestle with some tough decisions such as axing cable and budgeting for Netflix.  Many of the students came to the realization that kids are indeed expensive.  My absolute favorite was the one student who decided to buy a new truck, while budgeting public transportation funds for his wife (I told him to also budget funds for a divorce attorney). After the students completed their budget, they were issued debit cards and sent throughout the park to simulate paying their bills (students also had the option of "paying" some bills online via their tablet).

For all of you loyal blog readers with a JA Finance Park in your area, I highly encourage you to seek out this opportunity for your students.  My students spent the day on task and engaged.  In fact, many of my students tried to encourage me to get a tablet and play the finance game with them (I assured them that I play this game everyday, it's called reality). Check out the video below for more information.