This has been quite the week at the school (I’ll need pseudonyms soon I think…). In my last post I wrote that since the students had chosen child abuse as their issue to solve with their social businesses, I was a bit nervous that we wouldn’t find a product that would help solve that issue. Child welfare is not really something that can be solved with products or services. I had come up with a back-up plan of making child-related things like toys or books and I was going to pose this to the students as a “close enough” option. Turns out, the kids had other plans. Since a few of them had researched that blue is the color of child abuse awareness, they were all really set on making things that are blue to educate others. The classroom teacher had shown them some statistics about abuse that shocked and angered them and they wanted to get the word out.  After talking about it, the kids thought that as long as they made blue items that kids wanted to buy, they were reaching their target audience.

The classroom teacher liked this idea too and used the opportunity to talk to the students about how they treat each other in the classroom. They are so concerned about abuse of other children, that they are allowing abuse of children and adults in the school happen every day— bullying. Right around this same time, the class had gotten in a lot of trouble for being horrendous to their substitute teacher one afternoon. After that debacle, sadly, this class has formed a reputation in the school as “the bad class.” It is a small handful of students causing trouble, and certainly not the whole class (as is often the case), but yet the mistreatment of other students and adults in the building is consistent. It seems that despite their care and concern for child welfare, some parts of this re not transferring to their personal lives. As a researcher, I find it interesting that the subject of social studies is where this kind of teaching falls to–learning how to get a long, how to treat others, how to work as a team, etc.

I am just now starting to see the students learning social studies content, and we are 4 weeks into a social studies unit. The main concept the students are starting to grasp is the idea of the relationship between revenue, cost, and profit. When choosing their “blue item”  to sell, I told them to find products where they can spend very little money so their costs are low and their profit can be high. They really responded well to this challenge. Many of them chose products that need very little materials to make. Two teams are making jewelry of some kind, one team is making stress balls out of balloons and cotton, one team is making calendars of their own artwork, and one team is making slime to sell (blue, of course). They took great care in listing their “costs”, and then I purchased everything the kids would need to make their products. They are going to “buy” their products from the “Whitlock Store” on Monday.

Here is the costs list from the “Slimy Kids Who Care” (their company name choice, not mine!):

Here is my haul to stock the Whitlock Store on Monday. This prompted the Meijer cashier to say “You’re a teacher, right?”

To “buy” these products, the students got a loan on Friday and I taught a lesson on interest and what that was. I was so impressed with how serious they took this– as I had each student sign their loan agreement, you could hear a pin drop as they all carefully signed their names and I gave the manager of each group their credit slips.They did a lot of math in this lesson to calculate interest, and one student and I had this exchange:

Student: “This is math part is really hard!”

Me: “This is part of starting a business. Entrepreneurs do a lot of math to help them make business decisions”

Student: “I thought running a business was just selling stuff”

So they are learning! I see a bit of a different class than the rest of the school does. I see kids that are excited to learn but having trouble carrying over the lessons into real life yet. I am hoping the troublemakers find a new set of skills they can feel successful with in this project and turn their negativity in positive social change.