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Showing posts from February, 2011

Budget Cuts

There were a few commonalities among students regarding areas to cut in the budget. Street lighting, the animal shelter, downtown renovation and employee benefits were the areas the majority of groups decided to focus on.

Most groups decided that street lighting was something that could be changed. Even though students stated that unsafe streets were a concern they felt that it was an area to cut in order to balance the budget. Many groups decided that the animal shelter's funding would have to be cut and some groups eliminated the shelter completely, choosing to pay another city to handle Peaceful Pines' animal issues.

Downtown renovation was something that quite a few students felt was unnecessary in times of economic hardship, even though they realized that a revitalized downtown could attract new businesses. A group voted to suspend the renovation until the economic outlook improved.

Employee benefits was by far the most common area for cuts among all of my classes. Studen…

Real-World Application

The students are finishing up their city budget presentations but we started class reading an article about Governor Snyder's budget proposal, which was released today.  The students are much more prepared to discuss the Michigan budget now that they have completed their budget simulation and they feel confident in expressing their opinions.  They also feel a greater stake in the outcome of the final Michigan budget and its ramifications.

I am very glad that we've done this project because a goal in teaching is to provide students with meaningful opportunities for learning and I feel that was accomplished.  This activity was challenging because it called on students to think and create, both on an intradisciplinary (economics and political science) and interdisciplinary (math, technology and language arts) level.

I will be compiling information about students' budget cuts, student ideas to generate revenue and thoughts on the project and on the iPads in my next several pos…

Keynote

The students are anlayzing their data and creating their Keynote presentations.  Keynote is really user-friendly and some of the features are comparable to Numbers.  One example of this is saving and renaming work.  I am excited watching students navigate these similarities with confidence.  The day we saved our data tables in Numbers was a big event--I needed to stop helping students early and make sure I walked around the room before the hour ended to look at everyone's iPad to make sure they'd saved and renamed correctly (and show them how if they didn't know how).  In comparison, students already knew how to do these tasks our first day using Keynote and I was impressed with their knowledge.  We're becoming iPad savvy!

Finding clip art photos for Keynote presentations is, in my opinion, easier than in Powerpoint.  The students find an image, press on the photo, select "Save", go back to Keynote and it's right there under "Saved Images".  Eas…

Challenges

My students are finding it difficult to balance the budget.  The feeling is that everything should be kept in the budget because all of it contributes to the security and well-being of their citizens.  Every time a student makes a suggestion there are other students pointing out the consequences.  Their frustration echoes the frustrations of government leaders all over the county, state and country.  I am eager to see what they decide to do and how they expect to raise revenue for next year.

Data Analysis

The students in second and fourth hour are starting to analyze their data. (First hour is a day behind due to a meeting during their class this week).  The difficult decisions a city goes through to balance their budget are weighing on students' minds today.  I can see that they're really debating how to cut as little as possible and still maintain the services citizens are used to.  Their final budget also has to benefit the common good. 

My role is to advocate for the areas that are going to be cut to really allow students to carefully consider and reconsider their decisions.  There are no correct answers and no easy answers.