Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lesson Plan - Develop a Business Plan for Yourself

This post is another follow-up to something I mentioned on Twitter today. Today, the students in my Global Identity and Interaction class (I only have six students in the class) pitched their business plans to an angel investor (this person actually was a prominent businessman in our community before retiring). The purpose of giving the assignment to my students was to get them to explore business and job opportunities beyond the conventional model of "get a degree, go work for big company."  To give students as much flexibility as possible, the actual directions that I gave to the class were quite basic. You can read the directions here.

I and the angel investor were quite impressed by all six students' presentations but two really stood out. One student developed a plan for an online fitness and nutrition coaching program for teens. The program would include one-on-one virtual coaching and a community forum for members to support each other. The other plan that stood out was for a blended online and in-person tutoring program for K-12 students.

I was asked on Twitter which resources the students used to acquire ideas and background knowledge while assembling their business models. In no particular order here are the resources that I directed them to (the students also found others on their own).

Excerpts from Guy Kawasaki's The Art of the Start and Reality Check. We also watched a couple of YouTube videos of Guy Kawasaki explaining his 10-20-30 rule for presenters.

Excerpts from Chris Guillebeau's 279 Days to Overnight Success.

We looked at the Common Craft business model and listened to part of this podcast with Lee Lefever.

Students also read some of Chris Brogan's blog posts about Kitchen Table Companies.

Cell Phones in Schools - My Experiences and More

This afternoon I Tweeted that I was thankful that my school allows teachers and students to use cell phones and social media in the classroom. After sending out that Tweet I got a bunch of requests to elaborate, so here are my experiences using cell phones and social media in the classroom followed by some examples from others. If you have your own experience to share, please leave a message.

My Experiences
What prompted my Tweet today was my reaction to the great presentations made by the students in one of my classes this afternoon. For the last couple of weeks the students in that class worked on developing independent business plans that they then "pitched" to an angel investor. A handful of my students used social media Twitter and YouTube's messaging system to contact people who could offer them some advice about starting a business on the web.

This is an excerpt from a post about cell phones that I wrote in the fall of 2009. 
This afternoon in my civics class we were discussing some of the citizens' initiative questions on this fall's ballot in Maine. At one point in the conversation I saw one of my students playing with her cell phone. In an attempt to make sure she was paying attention I asked this student what she was doing. She said that she just received a text from her mom telling her that she could stay after school. So I said, kind only half-seriously, ask your mom what she knows about Question 4. Another student said, "can I ask my mom too?" And in a matter of minutes more than half of my class had sent a text message to their parents asking them what they knew about Question 4.

The responses from parents were interesting in that many of the responses echoed the various messages that have been running on local television stations. After we had received all of the responses we talked about why some parents knew more than others about Question 4 and the role of television and radio advertising in influencing voters' positions. Those discussions took place on top of the original pro v. con conversation that had started prior to breaking-out the cell phones.

The experiences and perspectives of others.
On August 29, 2010 The Boston Globe ran a good article about Burlington High School Principal Patrick Larkin's approach to cell phones in his school. One of the things that jumped-out at me while reading the article was this quote from Patrick in response to a question about concerns that students will cheat or be distracted by using cell phones or laptops: “If they want to cheat, they’re going to cheat,’’ Larkin said, “with technology or anything else.’’ He said he doesn’t see much difference between this and the old scourge of teachers — note passing. “We’ve had no problem with note passing the last few years . . . I wonder why . . . they’re texting!’’ he said. Read the whole article here and make sure you read the closing quote from Principal Larkin.

Patrick Larkin takes an approach to dealing with cell phones in schools that many of us would like to see in schools. Rather than spending our effort and limited time telling students to put away their pocket computers (cell phones) we should put that effort into learning how we can leverage mobile devices to improve the learning experiences of our students.

The following video from CNN is a report on two different approaches to dealing with cell phone use by students. Thankfully, my school is slowly moving toward the second approach. Watch the video below then leave a comment and tell us which approach your school uses and which approach you prefer. 

Finally, to put social media and cell phones use in a greater context, check out Clay Shirky's TED Talk How Social Media Can Make History.

Who Am I? A History Mystery

Who Am I? A History Mystery is a fun and challenging activity from the Smithsonian's The Price of Freedom online exhibit. Who Am I? presents players with six historical characters that they have to identify using the text and image clues provided. To solve the mystery players have to match the visual artifacts to each character.

Applications for Education
Who Am I? A History Mystery could be a good way for history students to practice using evidence to create a hypothesis. Who Am I? is part of a larger online Smithsonian exhibit called The Price of Freedom. The Price of Freedom offers a series of detailed lesson plans and videos for six major events and eras in US History. Those events and eras are War of Independence, Wars of Expansion, The Civil War, World War II, Cold War/ Vietnam, and September 11.

Hunting for Oil - Snag Learning Film of the Week

This month marked one year from the beginning of the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A year later people in the Gulf Coast region are still feeling the effects of that disaster. This week's Snag Learning Film of the Week is Hunting for Oil. Hunting for Oil is a twelve minute film about the people who are working to evaluate the impact of the oil spill and clean up the oil. You can watch a preview of the film in the widget below and find the full film with discussion questions here.
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