Thursday, August 4, 2016 is Open for Business by Donna Corcoran

What do From Poop to Profits, Freedom’s Sound and Drew Carey have in common?  They’re all videos from that truly engage students in business courses.

In most high schools, business classes are electives competing for the opportunity to educate today’s students on the principles of sound business decision-making as owners, investors and consumers.  In order to increase enrollment, it is essential that business courses are relevant and exciting—incorporating “fun” with thought-provoking challenges.  This is a much easier proposition when you have in your corner.

I’ll admit, it was the free DVD option that enticed me to try, but it was the quality of the resultant classroom debates, and projects generated by the DVDs and current events that really hooked me.  Why?  Because they hooked the students! When I first shared a DVD, it was hundreds of students – and three budget cuts – ago. Yet I consistently get the same student reactions: they are enthusiastic and interactive!

I define a great day as one where the bell rings before the students are ready to leave. days are great days!  In my classroom we post two critical sets of questions:

1) Is there an unintended consequence?
2) Who chooses? Who benefits?  Who pays? What’s fair? 

These question sets help students frame their responses in more thoughtful and encompassing ways.  I often hear students discussing the issues down the hall after class.  Many times they return the following day – or week – with additional higher-level follow-up.  What more can a teacher ask?

School goals in my district include differentiated instruction and rigor.  The Teacher Guide that comes with each DVD facilitates the process of differentiating for various student populations, while keeping the information relevant and rigorous.  Much of the work is done for me. And in the days of having to do more with less, it’s invaluable to have a trustworthy source at a price I can afford.  As a district trainer for CRISS (Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies), I use the materials in my workshops as examples of excellent student-centered resources.

My biggest concern, frankly, is that more business teachers should become aware of the great resources available through Although the videos are certainly pertinent in a variety of curricular areas, many of my colleagues think of them as social studies resources. This simply is not the case! Eminent Domain is a perfect for Business Law, as is Markets Without Borders. Students in Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship LOVE Free Trade and the Win-Win Trading Game.  They walk away with a clearer understanding of the world, and their individual choices. I remind students they are always voting with their dollars and their actions. Students in Consumer Education chose to lend money through after viewing the Pennies a Day video.

I make it my business to spread the word at business education conventions – is open for business! Student activities that engage, teacher lesson plans and assessments--all in one great package? That’s a win/win!