Technology Spotlight On: Big Springs Elementary School District
Joyce Hinkson, California Department of Education
How do you develop vocabulary, teach mathematics concepts and critical thinking skills to fourth through eighth graders, and at the same time keep the students motivated, interested and engaged? Big Springs Union Elementary School District in Siskiyou County has found a way through their multi-media stock market math project.
Big Springs successfully competed for a Technology Literacy Challenge Grant and is in its second year of implementation. Through a lease/purchase option, the district was able to leverage its resources to provide five networked multimedia computers in each fourth-sixth-grade classroom, as well as a computer lab that also includes a laser printer and large monitors for conducting whole group lessons. E-Rate has been used to defray the costs of telecommunications. Greg Briody, whose responsibilities include teaching Title I, G.A.T.E. and home-schooled students, wrote the grant with the idea not only of assisting students through the multi-disciplinary program, but also of promoting investment awareness to parents and other community members. Dave Wilson, an eighth grade teacher at Big Springs, lent his background in business and his enthusiasm as an on-line investor to the project to help ensure its success. Seven teachers regularly participate in the project's planning group to design lessons and share resources and activity ideas.
Students begin the investment project by first participating in whole class activities, then move to cooperative teams, individual investing from teacher-selected stocks and finally researching and selecting stocks for investment based on established criteria. Mr. Briody has secured baseball cards with which to introduce students to the concepts of investing as they use their $200 in virtual "seed money" to select and then buy shares in a player. Information obtained from a mock scouting report details the previous baseball game's events and reports players' statistics. Shares in a particular player rise or fall depending on the how the player fared during the game. Homeruns and number of hits at bat cause the shares to increase, errors and/or player injuries cause the share value to decrease. Once the students understand the investment concept and process, they advance to an on-line investment program called EduStock, http://library.thinkquest.org/3088. The investment opportunities move to corporations and the seed money increases to $1,000. Students research company profiles, gather and analyze investment data and participate in on-line stock trading simulations that incorporate real-time stock market data from the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. Profits and losses are graphed and a stock portfolio is maintained for further investment analysis.
Students come away from this money-management project with an understanding of how the stock market functions while improving math, vocabulary, and interpersonal skills. In addition to becoming investment-savvy, it is anticipated that students who participate in this project will also have an increase in STAR test math results. This Project truly "invests" in our students. As Henry B. Adams said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops". Thank you, Big Springs.
For more information on this Project, you may contact: Greg Briody, Big Springs Union Elementary School District, (530) 459-3189.
Joyce Hinkson is a consultant for the California Department of Education's Education Technology Office. She may be reached at (916) 323-2241 or by e-mail at