It's a perfect example of what is commonly called "experiential learning" - taking textbook principles and applying them in the trenches of real-world finance. Talk to the students in Jan Wright's EXTEND class at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, and they will tell you that playing the stock market can be very exciting. It requires sweating the small stuff to avoid big losses and strategic planning.
Fifteen weeks ago, students in Wright's EXTEND class divided into teams and became players in the Stock Market Game Program, a nationally known learning project supported by the Securities Industry Association. The game is the only stock market simulation also endorsed by the New York Stock Exchange. Each team started out with 100,000 virtual dollars. Their challenge was to study the market, do research and make those dollars work for them.
"I wanted to teach my students something that they would remember and use as they got older," Wright said. "I wanted them to understand the value of investing and how to effectively collaborate in groups. Playing the Stock Market Game was the perfect answer to reach the goals I had for my students."
Some teams performed better than others, and depending on their research skills and investment savvy, were able to build their portfolios to over $110,000. The two teams from MJCA each saw portfolio gains, and they placed first and second out of 18 competing teams in the Junior Division of the Stock Market Game. They also ranked among the top 16 teams out of 138 competing teams in both the Senior and Junior divisions. They were invited to attend a reception held at Belmont University last month, where they received medals and discussed stock tips with other winning teams.
"It was very fun owning parts of businesses," said Wesley Johnson, a fourth-grader at MJCA. "We were lucky enough to have some of the best stocks out there. I think we did pretty well."
Elizabeth Corbin, another fourth-grader, added, "I enjoyed getting in groups and working together with my team. It was fun to pretend to do what adults do."
"This is a multi-disciplinary, problem-based teaching tool," said Maria Edlin, assistant director of the Center for Economic Education at Middle Tennessee State University and director of the Tennessee Stock Market Game. "This is an amazing accomplishment by Mrs. Wright's EXTEND class at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy. Their tenacity and accomplishment speaks volumes about the school's interest in providing hands-on learning, and Mrs. Wright is to be congratulated for taking on the Stock Market Game challenge. It is a real departure from the traditional teaching regimen, and she and the students are to be commended for learning to the beat of a different drummer."
Belmont University's College of Business Administration is the primary Middle Tennessee region sponsor of the program.