The United States has a long history of entrepreneurship, and it currently ranks third in ―entrepreneurial friendliness‖ behind Denmark and Canada, and just ahead of New Zealand and Australia. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses in the U.S. generate more than half of our nation’s gross domestic product, currently employ more than half of the private workforce, and create more new job opportunities than large businesses each year. If entrepreneurship, then, is so important to our nation and to our students’ futures, why does it receive so little attention in the classroom?
That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Schools are continually pushed to do more with less, and limited budgets, reduced staff levels, and the increased focus on test scores all contribute to the time crunch and academic subject squeeze felt in many classrooms. Entrepreneurship is usually integrated into social studies lessons at some point, and often not until the middle or high school grades. That’s a shame, because at its basic level, entrepreneurship is about innovation, creative thinking, and calculating risks – all skills that students should start to learn early on. We live in a world that is increasingly driven by efficiency- and innovation-driven economies, and the skills taught by the study of entrepreneurship helps students to navigate more confidently through them. In studying entrepreneurship, students can more fully imagine what it would be like to be a business owner, a venture capitalist, or an inventor. Through hands-on entrepreneurial exercises, students learn time management, interpersonal and organizational skills, and leadership – all qualities that are highly desirable to employers and essential components to being a productive citizen.
This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org focus on entrepreneurship lessons for a range of grade levels, and all include a hands-on activity or real-world component to help connect the students to the material. Students are much more engaged in learning if the material seems relevant to real life, and entrepreneurial education can certainly fit that bill. Peggy’s Corner expands on the ideas of creative thinking and innovation, presenting ideas and resources to encourage students to use their creativity to invent new things. In addition, we will be featuring several new lessons, activities, and other resources on the entrepreneurship each day for the entire week on the Gateway’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook so you don’t miss anything.
Discussions will continue on last week’s theme of the Freedom Rides on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.
Resources covered in this week’s columns include:
I Want to Be an Entrepreneur
Subjects: Economics, Business
In this lesson, students will create and advertise a business while learning the meaning of the words entrepreneur, advertise, profit, and loss. Students will also film commercials to advertise their business. This resource is from Digital Wish, a non-profit that seeks to modernize K-12 classrooms and prepare students for tomorrow's workforce. On the Digital Wish web site, teachers can create wish lists of technology products for their classroom. Donors then connect with their favorite schools and grant classroom wishes through online cash or product donations.
Could You Start a Business?
Subjects: Business, Economics, Math
This lesson plan will teach high school students about the importance of financial management for a small business. It will help students learn the concepts of business costs, positive cash flow, credit, and proper financial management in running a business. Students will learn the tools for basic financial analysis, and will investigate why the business in the video segments was not successful. As an extension activity, they can brainstorm ideas for a model new business, given what they have learned about the financial needs of a new business. This lesson was produced by Thirteen Ed Online, the educational Web component of WNET, PBS's flagship station in New York. This free service features everything from standards-based lesson plans and classroom activities to a multimedia primer, online mentors, and reviews of curriculum-based Web sites.
Business Ownership: How Sweet It Can Be!
In this lesson, students research the three basic types of business organization: sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. Considering the advantages and disadvantages of each, they function as consultants offering advice on which form of business is best suited for different business scenarios. The case studies all feature real- life entrepreneurs who started businesses producing chocolate candy and cookies—they all result ultimately in ―sweet‖ success stories. Once students have made their recommendations, they are provided the identities of their clients and asked to prepare reports that tell the rest of the story—what happened to each founder and business. This lesson is from the Council for Economic Education, an organization that advocates for better school-based economic and personal finance education at the K-12 level. The Council also offers K-12 economic education programs, which focus on the basics of entrepreneurship.
About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills
The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.
About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks
Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.
About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner
Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught Physical Science and Chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work evaluating and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!
About the GLRC
About JES & Co.
JES & Co., a publicly funded 501(c) (3) education research organization, is a leader in research and deployment of education programs based on open standards. With 20 years of experience in interoperability and portability of educational resources, organizations around the world come to JES & Co. for leadership and guidance on education programs and initiatives. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, JES & Co. has led and managed The Achievement Standards Network (ASN), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Gateway to 21st Century Skills (formerly known as GEM), the Dell Academy, the Intel Student Certification Program, and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. For more information about JES & Co. or the Global Learning Resource Connection, visit www.JESandCo.org.