Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 17 of 30: Taking Stock

This is Day 17 of a 30-day blogging challenge.

More than halfway through the thirty-day challenge, and most of the way through the semester. In fact, the third marking period started a week ago and final exams are less than a month away. The students only have a couple of full five-day weeks remaining, and one of those is an exam week, so there won't be much learning going on then, just demonstrations of knowledge acquired. So it's time for a project.

There's always time for a project. I need something to boost grades, particularly in my Financial Algebra classes where some of the students seemed determined to do just enough to squeeze by ... and then miss the mark by a few tenths of a point, where "few" is defined as "thirty to eighty, possibly one hundred twenty".

I took over this class in late October, when they were in the middle of Chapter 3. It hadn't occurred to me at the time that they hadn't covered Chapters 1 and 2. (Actually, they had started with Chapter 6, which I recently discovered when I tried to cover it and it seemed oddly familiar to them, like a dream, or a dream within a dream...)

I could understand not wanting to start right out of the gate with the Stock Market, and its somewhat complex ideas. Going for the chapter with checking accounts seems a better place to go, or possibly the one dealing with getting a job so that you have something to put into that checking account. After that, you can think about writing checks to your stock broker. Oddly, I just finished talking about retirement and pensions and social security. We've mentioned investing, but having gone there yet. Now is the time -- because there really isn't anything else and we have about 20 days of classes to kill.

Soooooo... stock market project. Not a game. No buying low, selling high, trading between friends and making a million dollars. Just one project, tracking one stock. Something that won't drop a lot of bookkeeping on me. Just checking their work.

The big question will be if I decide to pre-approve their stock choices, just so no one else picks the same stock ... and hands in the same exact paper. Last semester, students did a project about financing a used car. They all picked different cars and had cover sheets showing their choices, and yet every car seemed to cost exactly the same amount of money. Interesting.

I could write the stock symbols on index cards and hand them out. They could trade if they wanted to, but they couldn't both have the same card. However, that would actually take some of the fun out of it: being forced to follow a stock I gave them instead of finding one of their own in a sector that like: technology, fashion, entertainment, shopping, food/beverage, ... or boring stuff like big oil or steel production. I could tell them to try their initials as a stock symbol to see if it's taken. (There's no CJB, but CB is "The Chubb Corporation".)

I should add those descriptions, give them a little more incentive. Or and I have to forbid penny stocks. Nothing under $5.00. I don't need the wild swings and students "gaming" the system, which could be easily gamed. Why not? It's not like there's real money involved with the SEC looking over their shoulders.

Well, unless someone misunderstands the instructions to "invest" $1,000 and uses real money. In which case, if they make a lot of money, I want my cut.

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