Monday, November 19, 2012

Formative Assessment at Work: Teaching about Stocks & Stockholders

All I do is teach Virginia history in social studies. Right now, my kiddos are learning about Jamestown. They actually are really excited about this unit because we're going to Jamestown on a field trip and the unit talks a ton about Pocahontas. They love talking about how the Disney movie differs from the real events!

However, there is so much vocabulary and dry information in this unit. With my ELL kiddos, this just gets to be too much. So today, I was teaching about the stockholders in the Virginia Company of London (say what???) and the kids weren't getting it, even with roleplay. So they went to PE and I had sometime to reassess my teaching and I came up with something that I think really worked...

I printed out a blank mini stock, which looked like a mini certificate. Each student got one. I told them that we were going to discuss how stocks work today so that we could better understand what being a stockholder entails.

So basically I pretended that I gave them some money and that they were going to buy a stock in the company of their choice. They had three companies to choose from: Pepsi, Disney and Facebook.

Once the students picked the stock they wanted and wrote it on their little certificate, we looked into how the stocks were doing, which you can do on Google! We pulled up a chart and compared the three companies. lets you compare as many companies as you want. In the upper left you can see that you can change the timespan of the graph from 1 day to 10 years. This led to some great discussions about interpreting the graph. We looked at the 10 year graph and talked about why Facebook didn't appear across that whole chart. And can I just say technology is awesome? The values of the stocks kept changing in real time, which excited the kids beyond belief!

So then, when the students had imaginary money invested, they really started to understand the concept of stockholders and stock. They asked some really inquisitive questions and discussed why they chose which companies they chose, which led to further discussion about how the public's perception of a company affects its value. It also led to a discussion about the economy when we looked at the 10 year chart because there was a huge dip for the last stock market crash. I'm pretty sure my class is full of brilliant stock brokers now!!!

Obviously hands-on manipulatives are so crucial to learning, but I'm wondering what other ways you all have changed your teaching with good results? Any recommendations for dry-information-filled lessons? I have to teach about the beginning of government in the colony soon!!! Any advice is appreciated!

P.S. Sorry I've been MIA from blogging for a bit! I have no excuse except for the November Slump. I hope you all are looking forward to Thanksgiving break! Ours starts tomorrow after school!!!!!


  1. Great idea! I really miss teaching about Jamestown (and all of VA Studies). Have fun on your field trip!

    Don't Let The Teacher Stay Up Late

    1. Thanks! I love teaching about Virginia. I never thought I could enjoy it this much!