My classroom is fully blended, but I actually didn't start that model until we became FUSE Architects this year. Kolker Kash can work in any degree of a blended context - since students in a traditional classroom can access the website on their phones or from home. The Kolker Kash system was an idea I had right before I started teaching. It was three days before the start of school, somebody mentioned the term "token economy," and it dawned on me that it didn't make sense to call something an "economy" unless it really was one! So I went with the third result from a Google search for "fake online bank accounts," and Kolker Kash was born. Over the years it has grown and developed, largely due to student input. Students had the ideas to add salaries, mortgages, stocks, and beyond - and the system allowed for easy integration of these more sophisticated financial concepts.
It was definitely a challenge to strike a balance between the fun novelty of technology and its actual usefulness for pedagogy. I found myself - and my students - seduced into the "fun" parts of Kolker Kash, which aren't always the parts that align best with goals for classroom management and curriculum. For example: one student issuing a fine to another student for throwing trash across the room seemed like a good idea, but quickly became a chaotic scene that distracted from our lesson. And kids working so hard to earn Kolker Kash sometimes distracted them from focusing on learning the math itself. Ultimately, I learned to troubleshoot each of these areas and communicate more clearly to students why we do Kolker Kash, so they can understand what it is and is not for. I hope to share those specific lessons with anybody interested at BPLC2018!
My advice is to push your comfort zone but ultimately go with your gut. It's essential to take risks and plunge into the vast unknown with many of these technologies; otherwise transformative change would never occur. That being said, one of the challenges of implementing a new kind of blending-learning model is that there are just so many different pieces of software, models, and theories out there. It can be overwhelming. I think the gut is the best filter: teachers probably have the best intuition for what kinds of experiences will and won't produce meaningful outcomes of any profession (it's impossible to do our job without that sixth sense!). So trust your gut: look at different models but make sure the one you pick is one that aligns with your mostly deeply held beliefs about children and teaching.
Doubtless my biggest leadership comes in classroom simulations. What I love about Kolker Kash is that it's seamlessly woven into every single lesson. Certainly, I use Kolker Kash as a strategy to make word problems more meaningful (isn't compound interest more engaging if we're actually talking about the money in your own bank account?), but its real value is in integrating math and financial literacy topics into the everyday routine. Because Kolker Kash can be earned, traded, used, saved, and risked at any moment, students are made constantly aware of the trade-offs and difficult decisions that come with managing their finances. It's a 24/7 simulation that ties directly into my goals for classroom culture and curriculum.
I've also been blown away by the potential of Kolker Kash to redefine roles in the classroom. Kids are no longer just students in my class: I have bankers and CEOs, judges and debt collectors, all earning salaries (or commissions) for their services. Even better, I have more than one hundred young economic innovators inventing new financial instruments on the daily. Students find a new kind of agency to transform their learning experiences through Kolker Kash, primarily because the whole experience is so organic. Even those students who might struggle the most to think of an original project they might like to pursue, or those who are only beginning to learn how to advocate for their learning style, can easily see opportunities to build upon the Kolker Kash system. By constantly questioning the system (Can I charge a safety deposit on the desk once I own it? Shouldn't I get a dividend from my stocks?), students become co-creators of their own curriculum, incentive system, and economic policies.
Central Falls High School is the public district high school serving students from the small, close-knit community of Central Falls, RI. With families from 103 different countries and the lowest income of any city in Rhode Island, Central Falls has long been a landing ground for immigrant families looking for a better future in America. The high school is a central focus of the community in what has become known lately as Rhode Island's "Come-Back City."
Central Falls High School
Central Falls, Rhode Island
2863 United States
In 2014-2015 Rhode Island used the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) to test students in grades 4, 8 and 11 in science. The NECAP is a standards-based test, which means it measures specific skills defined for each grade by the state of Rhode Island. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level.
The 2015 results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments provide a first look at whether students are meeting the expectations of the new learning standards in literacy and mathematics. These standards are designed to prepare students for success in their next grade level, in postsecondary learning, and in career opportunities.