February 5, 2011

Junior Achievement, Lesson 1

Posted in Junior Achievement at 2:02 pm by kristibroom

With apologies to those of you following for CCK updates, I have a new learning experience to mull over: I’m a volunteer facilitator for Junior Achievement. For those unfamiliar, JA is a non-profit organization that provides financial literacy and workforce readiness curriculum to K-12 schools. Volunteer facilitators from the business and parent communities teach the prepared, grade-level appropriate curriculum to the kids over a period of a day or one day a week for several weeks. Last year, I facilitated JA-in-a-Day to my daughter’s 4th grade class. The curriculum, Our Region, taught about resources and what it takes to start/run a business.

This year, I’ve signed up for 5 weeks of 30-minute lessons from the Ourselves curriculum for kindergarteners – my son’s class. So, over the next 5 weeks, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and reactions in this space.

Curriculum

I have to say that I’m really impressed with the curriculum. Each volunteer gets a kit with all (almost all) materials needed for the full course, which includes a facilitator guide. So, even though I am biased as a former facilitator (trainer), I think they are easy enough for anyone to follow.

I will say, though, that timing seems a bit off. This year my lessons are to last 30 minutes, and while we did get interrupted – A LOT – for discipline issues (it’s kindergarten after all) and a few announcements, we made it only halfway through the material. I will say that it’s very similar to what I see in other training: we plan to fill every moment, and don’t account for questions, extra discussion, or interruptions.

The Class

The class I’m teaching has 22 students — not unmanageable. And, I’ve been in the classroom a few other times, and they are really good kids. But, they are kindergarteners, and it is Friday afternoon (my choice), so disruptions are expected. It amazed me last year, and I’ll say it again, that when I ask a question, almost all the hands are in the air to answer. That’s so different from my experience with training adults — I have counted to 5, to 10, many times before the first brave person shares a response.

I’m excited for next week. I know that I’ll need to adjust the curriculum a bit. This week, the kids took the activity home (color a picture of your favorite animal). Next week we scratch off to reveal pictures of coins on bookmarks. I think we may need to do that one in class, which probably means less time for discussion. That’s too bad, because hearing their minds absorb and question is my favorite part.

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