Bright Ideas Spotlight: Classroom Economy - Carolina Country

Bright Ideas Spotlight: Classroom Economy

Bright Ideas Spotlight: Classroom Economy

Students participate in a classroom auction (Photo by Julie McLeod).

The Bright Ideas grant program, administered by North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, has awarded $10.9 million in support of innovative, classroom-based projects since 1994. Each year, close to 600 grants are funded across the state. Here is one example from the 2016–2017 round of funding:

School: South Harnett Elementary School

Sponsoring co-op: South River EMC

Project name: “Classroom Economy”

Participating students: 26

Teacher: Melissa Nies 

Project in a nutshell: Students use online resources, including, to create and maintain a “classroom economy.” Students select jobs, perform tasks and then receive payment. They pay rent for their desks, fines if they fail to follow rules or complete certain tasks, and any additional money is used at auctions for school supplies and other small items. The program spans the class day (and isn’t something students can ignore), and it goes hand-in-hand with the school behavior plan.

From the teacher: “It gives students a natural consequence for not following directions or not being responsible. It also helps me reinforce to students that when they have a fine, it is based on behavior, not the students.

“I personally was struggling to stay afloat after Hurricane Matthew. So I worked with students a little differently than originally planned, for example, charging a discounted amount for their desk rent for a few months — there was no way I was going to take their desks from them. We called it flood relief.”

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