Innovative Education Forum

10 06 2011

Innovative Education Forum

I saw an ad on Facebook for the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum, a conference hosted by Microsoft at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington, in July.  They were seeking educators who could demonstrate how they used Microsoft products in their classes in unique, innovative, and real-world ways.

Microsoft experienced the highest number of applicants ever for this conference, and I was selected for one of the 100 slots.  I am also the only educator in the entire state of Tennessee attending this all-expenses paid, two day, whirl-wind conference.  I am quite excited and deeply honored.

Several have asked about my submission so I thought I’d detail it here.

For lack of a better name, I simply call this project “Create a Business.”  Students in my Tech class, mainly freshman, do this project each semester, and I’ve been doing it for about eight years.  It continually evolves and changes, but this is where I’m at now with it.

Basically, students create a business—as much as is feasible in four months and for high school freshmen.  They can work with a partner or go solo.  There are many things we leave out due to time constraints such as talking about incorporating, licensing fees, legal/liability issues, creating a shopping cart for their website, etc.

My only guidelines for the types of businesses they may pursue are:

  1. All products/services must be legal.
  2. There cannot be any minimum age requirements.  For example, students are allowed to sell alcohol, tobacco products, firearms, permanent tattoos, etc.
  3. They may not sell anything that is morally or ethically questionable even it satisfies requirements one and two.

Step 1:  Create a business plan detailing such things as the business name, products/services sold and their costs, contact information, operational hours, competition, etc. (Microsoft Word)

Step 2:  Write a mission statement and tag line/slogan/motto.  (Microsoft Word)

Step 3:  Design a logo (Adobe Photoshop)

Step 4:  Create business cards, letterhead, and other promotional print materials.  (Microsoft Publisher)

Step 5:  Create a series of six spreadsheets to track income, consumable inventory, capital expenses, fixed monthly expenses, payroll, and finally a net/profit loss statement for the first year with projections for the second year.  (Microsoft Excel)

Step 6:  Produce a :30 second commercial.  (Microsoft Moviemaker)

Step 7:  Create a website with a minimum of six pages:  home page, about us page, contact us page, and pages to highlight all products/services sold—pictures, prices, descriptions, warranties/guarantees, return/shipping policies, customer testimonials, etc.  (Adobe Dreamweaver)

Step 8:  Create a presentation to showcase everything that was done to create this business.  (Microsoft PowerPoint)

Step 9:  Present everything to the rest of the class in a 10-15 minute presentation complete with professional business attire and bringing in “samples” of their products.

Implementation Tips

  1. Have a thorough grading rubric to present to students at the start of the project.  I find students calculate their own grades as they go.  Those who make As usually realize around the halfway point that need do some sort of extra credit to make an A.  Those who don’t make the grades they desire cannot tell me they didn’t know something was required.
  2. Checkpoint progress throughout the process.  For example, I will give my students one week to create their business cards and other Publisher documents.  At the end of the week, I will check them off for a grade to make sure they are done and all basic requirements have been met.  I do not grade their spelling, grammar, creativity or things of that nature at this time, although if I notice an error or design flaw, I will make suggestions.
  3. Show students finished examples of each new phase before they begin in.  Example, before we start working on the commercial I will show my students dozens of examples of commercials the past group of students have produced.  I will point out elements that were well done, creative and/or effective, and I will point out those items that could have been done better or should have done differently.  I will show them A examples as well as C examples so they know what to expect going into it.

Outcomes

  • Due to the nature of our school, many of my students will become owners or managers of businesses someday.  I’ve actually had students so inspired by this project to start or manage their own businesses while still in high school.  I’ve also had students who enjoyed and excelled at the web design part so much, they later went on to make business web sites for friends and family—for pay.
  • Students are highly engaged in this project, often spending additional time outside the classroom working on it—by their choice, not because they have to.  They are allowed a tremendous amount of freedom in design and creativity.
  • This project prepares them for their future careers in a very authentic, real-world manner.
  • I have had numerous parents each year comment to me how they wished they had a project like this when they were in school.
  • I’ve had many students and parents thank me for teaching them or their children things they will actually use in the “real world.” 

There is no greater complement to me.

If you are interested in the details of this project for your own use in your classroom, or if you are interested in the Innovative Education Forum, please leave me a comment.

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35 responses

10 06 2011
Dawn

This is great, Kelly! Well done!

11 06 2011
His Thoughts « Memoirs Of A Madonna

[…] Innovative Education Forum (tokickapigeon.wordpress.com) […]

17 08 2011
Students Learn to Create a Business - Tech Skills How To

[…] If you are interested in the details of this project for your own use in your classroom, or if you are interested in Kelly's perspective on the Innovative Education Forum, please contact Kelly via her blog. […]

12 09 2011
Post-IEF (How 2 Days in Seattle Changed the Way I Teach) « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] of them, and I was the only one from Tennessee.  (To view my project, please see my post on the Innovative Education Forum.) Microsoft HQ – Redmond, WA – July 27, 2011Upon arrival in Seattle, a day early, a small group of […]

20 10 2011
Wendy

I would love to get more detailed information on your project. I teach an Intro to Business course at the high school and do a similar project with my students. If you could share some of your information I would appreciate it. I love to have students become involved in these types of authentic learning because they get so much more out of these kinds of projects. Thanks.

20 10 2011
huddlestonk

Thanks for your interest in this project. http://www.frapanthers.com/teachers/huddleston/ief/ief.html. This link will take you to the page I submitted for IEF. It has student examples and grading rubrics. This link: http://www.frapanthers.com/teachers/huddleston/Tech/TechProject/semester_project.htm will take you to the project website that my students use. It has all the directions and more examples as well as the most up-to-date grading rubrics. Let me know if you have any other questions, and good luck!

18 08 2013
MJ

Neither site can be found. Is there an updated site ?

18 08 2013
huddlestonk

Try this http://www.microsoft.com/education/ww/partners-in-learning/Pages/Educators.aspx. Microsoft revamped the entire program this year so it’s different from when I participated in 2011.

18 08 2013
MJ

Thank you, I’m looking for a few sample rubrics

10 11 2011
Donna Aspen

How did the students complete the financial side of the project. Where did they get the information?

10 11 2011
huddlestonk

Students did a lot of online searching. I recommend Google Shopping for things such as office and store equipment, furniture, appliances, etc. For the teams who were doing businesses involving food, I recommended they go grocery shopping with their moms/dads to get accurate prices on ingredients. Students know going into this that a small part of the grade has to do with how realistic their finances are. Hope this helps.

7 09 2013
Hardeep Kaur

HI Kelley
I really like your project idea. I couldnt find more information by clikcing on the links above. can you please share more resources about this project.

Thanks
Hardeep

7 09 2013
huddlestonk

Hardeep,

Please try this link: Entrepreneur 101 Project. My school recently changed the domain my site was listed on. Let me know if this one doesn’t work.

18 12 2013
Jillian

thank you so much for this! I needed curriculum for a new class I am teaching this year, and I feel like i just hit the mother lode! Would you happen to have an updated link to the rubrics you used? I can see the student side of it, but I was wondering if you had the “behind the scenes” information too?

Thank you!
Jillian Ryan

18 12 2013
huddlestonk

I’m glad this is helpful, Jillian. I really don’t have anything else besides what is posted online (http://www.fraschool.com/teachers/huddleston/Tech/TechProject/semester_project.htm). Let me know if that link doesn’t work.

17 01 2014
Jillian

Fantastic, thank you! How should I give you credit on my own site? Would you mind if i included an “adapted from” line?

17 01 2014
huddlestonk

Jillian, “adapted from” would be fine, and please include the link to my original site. If you make changes, I would love to know what you do. I’m always revamping and revising this.

17 01 2014
Jillian

I will do that. What website did your students use to create their websites? Would you like me to email you my documents and links?

17 01 2014
huddlestonk

I would love the link to your site. We use Weebly for the web pages (www.weebly.com).

20 01 2014
Sally Wilkins

I am interested in doing this project. I am teaching an Intro. to Bus. course for the first time in 20 + years and can use all the ideas, suggestions that I can find. Also, what links can be used to see sample projects and rubrics? How much class time/computer time is given for this project? I am just beginning the “business plan” section and would love to get started with this as we are about 1.5 weeks into the second semester. Thank you.

20 01 2014
huddlestonk

Sally, the link to the project directions and rubrics are found in some of the above comments. There are no longer sample projects posted due to students graduating and not wanting their work public anymore. I spend most of the semester working on this project–at least 13 weeks start-to-finish. Our classes meet every day for 40 minutes with one 60-minute period each week. Good luck!

23 01 2014
Nicole Pohle

I love the idea of this project! I am a 7th grade math teacher at a city school in Baltimore, MD. I feel that this type of project would be more beneficial to them than a lesson. It could also give some inspiration to those students who really need it. Could you please send me the details of this lesson to use in my own classroom?

Thank you so much!

23 01 2014
huddlestonk

Nicole, the link to the web page where all my lessons are is in one of the other comments. Take a look through the web page and rubrics and let me know if you have any specific questions. Hope you can find something useful.

1 05 2014
Elizabeth

Hi Kelly! I have been looking for a end of the year project for my business management class and I think this would be great! Could you send me the details of this project?

THANKS!!!

1 05 2014
huddlestonk

Elizabeth, the link to the project details is in one of the earlier comments on this post. The way it’s currently designed, it’s a semester-long project, but you could adapt sections for a shorter amount of time. Good luck!

24 11 2014
Kin

Hello,

I am a second year teacher and I have to come up with a curriculum for my Computer Applications class. I have no resources and I am basically told to search the internet and find resources and information myself. My classes are semester long class as well. I would love to implement this project. It covers all aspects of Computer Applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Web Design, and Presentation). How did you create Unit and Lesson Plans for the project? Whatever help you can provide would help so much.

24 11 2014
huddlestonk

This is a project I developed about 10 years ago and continue to tweak each semester I teach it. I teach in a private school so I do not have to worry about aligning it with any standards. If you need to do that, I can’t be of much help. However, here is my entire semester agenda: Technology Lesson Plans. This is literally all I turn in for my lesson plans, and it’s public for my students and parents. I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any more questions.

7 07 2015
Cathy Chell

This is a great idea for a project. I am looking for something that I can adapt to Culinary Arts and help students understand the cost in running a restaurant, and I think yours will be a great plan to follow. Thank you for sharing your talent and ideas:)

14 10 2015
Cody

Hello Kelly,

I know you hear this all the time, based on your comments, but this resource is truly invaluable to so many teachers. I want to personally thank you for providing this resource for the world to benefit. I do not recall how I found your blog, but I thank God that He guided me here. And to find that you also work at a Christian school furthers my previously mentioned point.

After teaching the basic concepts of the Office suite, I plan to implement this project next semester at my school in California.

Thank you for your generosity and talent,
Cody

15 10 2015
huddlestonk

Thanks Cody! I really needed to hear this today. I appreciate your comments, and I hope this curriculum is a blessing to you and your students. Reach out if I can help in the future.

9 01 2016
Kelly Goyden

Hi Kelly,
I’m teaching a high school Business Management class for the first time this semester and have nothing other than a textbook to work from. Your project looks awesome, could I possibly get access to your rubrics you use? I’d love for this to be an ongoing project the students work with. Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!

9 01 2016
huddlestonk

Kelly,
Since this was originally posted, I’ve moved sites and have revamped my curriculum. The new material is here: http://huddlestonkfra.weebly.com/entrepreneur-101.html. Hope this helps, and feel free to reach out to me with any questions.
Kelly H.

15 06 2016
Sherry Logan

May I please use this? Awesome!!!

15 06 2016
huddlestonk

By all means! This is the most current curriculum I have: http://huddlestonkfra.weebly.com/technology.html. Let me know if you have questions.

15 06 2016
Sherry Logan

Oh my heavens!!! Thank you!!! This is great!!

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