Teachers want to motivate their students. The key is figuring out what approach, philosophy or reward will encourage young people to be responsible for their own learning. One such program comes from the N.J. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and it has helped middle and high school students around the state understand about what they need to do to succeed in school and at work.
This spring, over 175 teachers gathered in various locations to participate in a workshop titled “Creating College-and Work-Ready Students Using the LearnDoEarn Student Achievement System.” And thanks to generous corporate support, participants received a wealth of free materials to take back to their classrooms.
LearnDoEarn is college/career-ready “intermittent curriculum” that makes middle and high school students in grades six through 12 want to work harder. Using the power of advice from future employers and eye-popping data to motivate teens, LearnDoEarn delivers tough but honest research-based messages that define the roadmap to success in college and work: necessary courses, grades, amounts of homework, attitudes, habits, and behaviors. In addition to classroom lessons, LearnDoEarn includes wall posters, online and classroom games, and parent videos, and is being used in over 400 schools in New Jersey and other states. In schools using LearnDoEarn, enrollment in college-prep courses, including rigorous math and science courses, has dramatically increased.
Preparing students to enter the workforce
LearnDoEarn ensures that students know how their academic performance and personal behavior will impact their employability. The N.J. Chamber of Commerce developed LearnDoEarn in response to employer concerns about the limited availability of qualified American workers. “By giving the students a view from the employers’ side, we intend to motivate them to start preparing now to be better candidates for the workforce,” explains Dana Egreczky, president of the N.J. Chamber Foundation. “This program is particularly important because competition for college admissions and good jobs is at an all-time high.”
School counselors, business and personal finance teachers, school-to-work coordinators, special education teachers, and transition coordinators, among others, are using this flexible program to help them meet diverse objectives with the following LearnDoEarn units:
- Ready for High School--nine classroom lessons focus on academic achievement and employability.
- World Class Students – classroom lessons focus on academic achievement, global awareness, competition, and knowing the job market. Significant emphasis is given to accomplishment in STEM courses.
- School Counts – focuses on the skills employers are looking for, how to get and keep the job, personal and work ethics.
- Work the Money – focuses on financial literacy, behaviors that could limit employability, recognizing the difference between wants and needs and the importance of delayed gratification.
What do teachers say?
John Capasso has been using LearnDoEarn with his students at Mainland Regional High School for several years. After a bit of experimenting with the lesson sequence, Capasso discovered the value of kicking off the school year with the LearnDoEarn presentation that gives students four rules to becoming a millionaire. “The students were engaged from the start in both instances, but what seemed to work best for me was starting with ‘Work the Money.’ Many of my students want to make lots of money, but they have little or no real idea of what it takes. The fact that there are workable rules for handling money and that anyone can be a millionaire, or at least make enough money to do what they want if they are disciplined enough, took the mystery out of being rich and seemed to hit home.” Capasso continued, “Once they realized they had an actual shot at a decent future, they seemed to be more accepting of the connection between education and how it shapes their future. For instance, it was good for them to be able to equate a minimum of one year of college and a certificate with an annual income of $40-65,000 - entry into the middle class. Basically I used the students' preoccupation with money as a motivator for the rest of the program.”
Therese Hendrickson, program coordinator for the School-Based Youth Service Program at Keansburg High School, attended a LearnDoEarn (LDE) teacher workshop with a team from her district, and had this to say: “Workshops are fast-paced and are comprehensive in nature. Attending a LDE training is well worth a day out of the office for all the information shared.”
Hendrickson continued, “LearnDoEarn provides an effective, structured message to young people preparing their life goals in an interesting and engaging format, “Our School-Based Youth Service Program included lessons and LDE quotations in our training sessions for students preparing for employment and in our newsletters. We have found these statements, such as “The tassel is worth the hassle,” to be simple ‘power messages’ that capture teens’ attention.
A new round of LearnDoEarn teacher workshops will be offered in the fall and will be announced via blast email. To receive future LearnDoEarn announcements, send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Workshopititions” bring virtual business situations to the classroom
The LearnDoEarn student presentations can be delivered in the classroom, in assemblies, or in various interactions with guidance counselors. However, due to overwhelming demand by educators, New Jersey Chamber staff members have been working directly with students in events called “LearnDoEarn Workshopititions” (workshop plus competition). In the workshopitition, students gain a more complete understanding of the business world, and their potential roles in it, through interactive presentations, exercises, and team and individual games.
Schools and after-school programs can select from a wide variety of LearnDoEarn activities that can be built into a customized workshopitition. Some of the choices include:
- The LearnDoEarn Hiring Game – teams of students assume the roles of employers making hiring decisions, and use a $10,000 hiring bonus allowance to compete against other teams to hire the highest quality workforce.
- The LearnDoEarn Budgeteering Game – students prepare four-month personal budgets and cope with unanticipated increases in costs that impact purchasing decisions.
- The LearnDoEarn Avatar University Game – students’ avatars compete for a highly limited number of college openings using processes that mirror college admissions selection.
Diana Lobozzo, director of High Schools That Work/PSLP and SLC in Roselle Public Schools, recently worked with the chamber to bring the LearnDoEarn Workshopitition to ninth-grade students at Abraham Clark High School. Said Lobozzo, “The LearnDoEarn Workshop provided students with real world examples of things they will need to do in preparation for college and post graduation. Students learned soft skills that are so very important in 21st-century careers such as collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
“Students were forced to make tough decisions and simulate the choices that they will actually have to make in preparation for college and in the real world after graduation from high school,” continued Lobozzo. “There has been so much talk around school about the success of this program from both the students and the staff. Students learned skills in an engaging way through these interactive project-based learning workshops on college, budgeting and the job search. I would highly recommend this program for other school districts for students in grades nine through 12. Students will learn skills that they can't read about in a textbook and can actually experience in preparation for both college and a career. The LearnDoEarn Program supports both our high school and district goal of preparing all students for college and a career.”
Margaret Rand, school counselor at Lacey Township High School, has found the LearnDoEarn program valuable because it promotes student achievement by directly connecting education to future career and employment opportunities. Presented from the perspective of the employer, the presentations encourage students to take rigorous courses to prepare themselves for the careers they want and the lifestyles these careers will afford them. At Lacey Township High School, LDE is conducted in partnership with the local business community through Rotary International, which supports the program by providing speakers and incentives for students to participate in LearnDoEarn activities. The program, which addresses common core curriculum content standards for workplace readiness skills, is integrated into business classes. It is also made available through student presentations and materials, including classroom games and great information for parents, which are shared at events and through the high school's television station.
At Lacey, the LearnDoEarn program has proven effective in helping to increase student and parent interest in higher level courses such as honors and advanced placement courses, including elective science and math courses, which are not state graduation requirements. Because of its business perspective, the program is very direct, often blunt, in its message to students and parents, delivering a message about the career and education connection which schools may not be able to convey as effectively without a business presence. Lacey Township High School feels fortunate to have this program as a resource and plans to continue its use to promote successful student transitions from high school to the workplace or higher education.
Customized Workshopititions are available to high schools, middle schools, and organizations that work with students, starting with students in late seventh and/or early eighth grade and continuing through high school. Each event accommodates up to 200 students. Some schools have used Title I, Perkins, federal after‐school funding, or other grants to support deployment of this program. To request a customized proposal or for more information, call Sue Herring at 609‐989-7888, ext. 144.
And the LearnDoEarn Student Leader Conference, targeting juniors and seniors in high school will launch in the fall, so watch for it!
Susan Herring is the director of programs for the N.J. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. She can be reached at Sue.Herring@njchamber.com.