The room was buzzing with excitement. All the little eyes faced toward the entrance. Then, in walked dozens of professionals in suits and dresses. Students gasped, “They’re here!” Our hard work and our pbl journey had all led up to this moment.
Our 2nd grade students had worked hard for weeks studying businesses in Noblesville. They had created their own businesses that would be original, useful, and could thrive in Noblesville. Students wrote persuasive pitches to convince their audience to invest in their company. Our driving question, How can we create a business that is useful and can thrive in Noblesville?
Students got feedback on their pitches with peers in our class through a think tank model. We also used third graders as editors of our pitches.
We critically thought about where we’d put our businesses in Noblesville. What would help it thrive? How could a location benefit our business? Why is the location important? Map skills became a step in the process that brought application and critical thinking to the project. Students placed a star where they wanted their business and gave explanations for the location.
Students watched a Kid President video and we talked about what makes an exciting presentation. We practiced these exciting presentations and gave feedback to each other.
This past Friday was our culminating event. We collaborated with the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce. They helped us get 20-30 local business leaders into our school for a Business Fair. We also invited parents and third graders that had helped us along the way. This fair was set up like a science fair with a business and “Shark Tank” like twist. Adults were given “Community and Business Investment Bucks.” These bucks were fake dollars used to invest in student ideas and persuasion. The business leaders showed up at the same time which created a lot of excitement. Students immediately knew it was time to get started!
The business fair was a huge success! Students had an authentic audience that provided purpose to our writing and learning. We had one business ask for students to put a display of their items in their shop. It was the highlight of the day for many adults.
“Learning was so connected to the real world,” said one business leader.
“It was so fun to listen to students talk. They’d talk so much about their business and then they would say something really articulate that caught your attention,” said another.
Students learned tricks and extra ways to gain the attention of businesses. One student said, “Mrs. Lash, all we had to do was reach out to them and say ‘Hi.'”
My favorite part of the event was that you could see themes of our past pbls come out through student businesses. We had students create restaurants around their culture. We had students begin to think about non-profit businesses to help homeless from our citizenship pbl. It was one of those beautiful moments in teaching that stays with you forever!