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Entrepreneurs in the Classroom: M.Y.O.B. Spells Success

The Small Business Administration reports that students who participate in entrepreneurship programs demonstrate increased initiative and self-confidence. >School interests such students more because they see how acquiring practical skills and learning to solve problems contribute to future success. Discover how two eighth-grade teachers in Connecticut integrated school-to-career connections in their curriculum -- and learn how you can Mind Your Own Business too! <font color= Included: Ten activities for incorporating entrepreneurship education into the curriculum.

Your local supermarket doesn't stock foods made by Man O' Man O' Cotti, The Grateful Breads, or Dough-si-Dough. Nowhere in the mall will you find children's shorts made by Little Chief's Briefs or placemats from Dining Delights. Nevertheless, those companies and many others have prospered in the Mind Your Own Business (MYOB) program at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Connecticut.

Each semester, eighth-grade MYOB students plan and manage businesses that sell their products to the school's faculty, staff, and students. Both food and sewing components are self-supporting, generating enough profit for the managers to reward employees with a thank you party and donate money to a local charity.

It's easy to understand how teenagers feel about such an accomplishment. "The kids are the companies," explained teacher Linda Biedrycki. "They take pride in their work."

Since 1997, Biedrycki and fellow teacher Kathy Muzyczka have focused their family and consumer sciences curriculum on entrepreneurship. In addition to life skills, MYOB fosters workplace readiness skills in reading, writing, communication, technology, and math. Ongoing cooperative learning and problem solving activities within each business strengthen the framework for company success.

FROM THE VIRTUAL MARKET TO THE JOB MARKET

In MYOB, students choose products, company names, and logos. They write individual portfolios of industry vocabulary, business and marketing plans, and codes of ethics. Interviews with owners of small businesses and reports on entrepreneurs help focus the subject. Higher-order thinking skills develop as students compare the pros and cons of entrepreneurship and determine the education and skills needed to develop and maintain successful business ventures.

The young entrepreneurs research existing laws and industry guidelines to plan product labeling. They evaluate the effectiveness of familiar advertisements and present their own print, audio, and video ads to the class. Print ads are later posted at school and in the community. Students become "instant" celebrities when audio and video commercials air during morning announcements and on the public access cable channel.

Every MYOB company depends on its employees' math skills for productivity and product quality. Time management sheets help students keep track of work completion schedules and stay on task. The ability to measure and follow sequenced directions is a must when hungry friends and teachers are the food customers!

Students quickly figure out that profits won't materialize without accurate math skills. The students must consider materials and labor costs in order to sell their products at a profit. Students use computers to create spreadsheets for record keeping, to calculate net profit or losses from gross sales, and to produce order forms.

MYOB also identifies and develops workplace readiness skills. As part of the program, students complete job applications, practice interviewing, and critique workplace attire in order to ensure that they "dress for success." They gain new perspectives by role-playing situations involving employees, employers, and customers. School-to-career connections are further forged when the class surveys local businesses and compares guidelines for customer relations and employee responsibilities.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACROSS THE CURRICULUM

Remember the childhood thrill of managing your very own lemonade stand? Without entrepreneurial education, the enterprising spirit of kindergartners dramatically declines by the time they graduate from high school. Few teachers have the time or resources to implement an extensive entrepreneurship program, though. Fortunately, Web-based lessons and activities can integrate virtual business experiences into academic subjects across grade levels. Check out the following activities designed to give your students the "business" in their own classroom.

Science. (Grades 3-5) An Entreduction to inventions and innovations can capture the interest of young scientists. Rube Goldberg cartoons contribute to the fun of problem solving as students investigate the risks and returns of entrepreneurship. Have students brainstorm ideas for new products after they investigate some patented but totally absurd inventions.

Social Studies. (Grades 3-5) Your students can sink their teeth into the entrepreneurial history of Papa John's Pizza and discover how businesses and people depend upon one another for goods and services. Don't let them leave the table without feeding on the economic principles of competition, specialization, interdependence, and supply and demand.

Language Arts. (Grades 3-8) Why Do I Want All This Stuff? explores advertising as students learn to distinguish between fact and opinion. You'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to access this file. The extensive, well-organized lesson includes numerous activities for evaluating and comparing familiar business ads. Students investigate concepts of demand, determinants of demand, taste and preference, and substitutes and complements so they can learn to make informed spending decisions.

Language Arts. (Grades 4-6) Dollars and doughnuts are a delectable duo for teaching economics and literary concepts. In An Economics and Literature Lesson, students read "The Doughnuts," from Homer Price, by Robert McClosky. In the story, Homer devises a way to sell the hundreds of doughnuts produced by his uncle's malfunctioning doughnut machine. Readers learn about such economic concepts as capital resources, productivity, and supply and demand through the series of comical events. Students can use the Capital Invention work sheet to research inventions and organize oral reports.

Math. (Grades 5-8+) Students work to squeeze every dollar out of their Lemonade Stand in this realistic online game. Students receive weather forecasts and financial reports to help them predict how many cups of lemonade they can sell. Rent and advertising costs are also added to the mix. This is a one-player game where the object is to "make a bunch of money" in 30 days.

Language Arts. Math. Social Studies. (Grades 6-12) At Business Plan Basics, students learn how to write a business plan. The activity can heighten their awareness of career opportunities and help them develop critical-thinking skills. Start-up company ideas at this site provide inspiration for a business description, marketing strategy, management system, and financial needs assessment. Developing a business in another country or historical time will enrich this project.

Language Arts. Math. (Grades 6-12) Prepare for risky business as young entrepreneurs learn the basics of business and entrepreneurship in the friendship bracelet industry at Bizworld. This competitive online game requires decision making for all aspects of product design and financial management. Completed cards can be e-mailed to friends as simulated direct sales. Students can skip the personal information section and log in by first name only.

Language Arts. (Grades 6-12) Inspire a new generation of young entrepreneurs. Read Cases for the Entrepreneurship Classroom about people who used creative thinking to achieve goals. Discussion questions accompany each example. Follow the Famous Entrepreneur Project, using the Internet to research the road to success. Students can practice persuasive writing when they justify their choices in Selecting a Franchise.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Entrepreneurship Education The Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education provides teachers with information to help students of all ages find entrepreneurial opportunities. The site includes teaching materials, classroom activities, and transparency masters.

The National Council on Economic Education A nationwide program for economic education in America's schools, the council maintains a database of excellent economic and entrepreneurial lessons, accessible by title, grade level, concept, or standard.

Economic Education Web The Economic Education Web at the University of Nebraska at Omaha provides lots of excellent economics education resources for K-12 teachers.

The Mint: Start Your Own Business This site, sponsored by Northwestern Mutual Life, provides middle school and high school students with advice, quizzes, pro and con discussions of business ownership, and other business education resources.

Aboriginal Youth Business Council A group of young First Nation, Mtis, and Inuit entrepreneurs created this site to teach entrepreneurial skills to Canada's aboriginal youth. The site includes entrepreneurship quizzes as well as personal suitability and business knowledge tests.

Kentucky Council on Economic Education

Joan Luddy
Education World®
Copyright © Education World

Updated 12/03/2010

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