January’s KBAY Teacher of the Month is Ivy Nguyen who received a Classroom Grant to open and manage a store in her classroom that teaches math and fundamental economic principles. Watch a video or listen to Ivy's KBAY interview below.
Grant Teaches Students Major Economic Principles
In Ivy’s third grade classroom, the Teacher Innovation Grant from Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) funds a yearlong project where students participate in a classroom project that mimics real world economic activities. “[It serves] as a fun way for students to act as both consumers and economists .. [allowing] me to teach major economic principles.” states Ivy. Ivy explains that the grant was used to create and maintain a “classroom store” where she displays goods such as books, stickers and pencils for students to buy using credits.
Students earn credits by completing daily classroom jobs, being responsible for their learning, achieving reading goals and being helpful to others. Students also receive debits for undesirable behavior. The students change jobs daily. Some are bank tellers, while others are cashiers or inventory clerks. Each student is paid at the end of the day and everyone can be a consumer and buy goods. Ivy states, “I don’t give them actual bills everyday, but tally in their ‘Credit and Debits’ log sheets. At the end of a pay period, students find their total amount earned by adding up their credits and subtracting their debits.” While engaging in a fun exercise, the students are learning and reinforcing their math skills.
According to Ivy, “The reality of creating and restocking the classroom store would be overwhelming without the [SVEF] grant. The store has become such an effective tool to teach students about important economic principles such as: opportunity costs, inflation, spending vs. saving, the law of demand, or how advertising affects demand.” In making this learning experience purposeful and authentic, Ms. Nguyen’s ultimate goal is “for the students to become responsible and well informed consumers who make good decisions and are familiar with typical consumer behavior.”
Greatest Classroom Challenge
Due to the budget crisis, Ivy’s biggest challenge she faces is teaching with the limited resources provided. Ivy states “I often found myself being challenged, trying to keep up with the latest research or the best practice, and at the same time stressing out with funding. So during my second year of teaching, I started to reach out for grants, and I am thankful to have found SVEF.”
To Ivy, being a teacher is a passion not just a normal job. “I could not imagine doing anything else. What I love about teaching is that goes way beyond a simple paycheck. I love the idea that I have a direct impact on the future of our society.”
Ivy graduated from California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) and earned her Bachelor‘s Degree in Liberal Studies, with a minor in Music. She also received her teaching credential from CSULA and later a second teaching credential in Adult Education from California State University, Long Beach.