The Island of Ablai (pt. 9)

Pt. 1 Planning
Pt. 2 Creating the Environment
Pt. 3 Money Matters
Pt. 4 Negotiating the World
Pt. 5 Natural Resources and Manufacturing
Pt. 6 Profits and Expenses
Pt. 7 Setting the Price
Pt. 8 Profits and Growth

Pt. 9 Supply and Demand

This series of lessons went in a completely different direction that I had originally thought they would.  Like all good things in life, in started with failure.

Failure with a Web
I wanted the kids to see how interconnected sales and price were with our lives.  I wanted them to get the sense of how profits and expenses web outwards and many different people benefit or lose for seemingly small reasons.  When a company increases its production, a whole host of subsidiary businesses will benefit.

We started by writing Change in Price on the middle of the white board.  I asked what some reasons are for changing price.  They gave me some good ones.  I asked them to then branch off from each of those reasons and say who might gain and who might lose with each price change.

It was just too hard.  They really struggled with this.  On student conferencing I realized that they didn't completely understand why the price was changing in the first place.  We needed to take a step back.

Success with a List
I regrouped and we brainstormed a list of different reasons why prices might change.  This was done as a collective, and each student could then ask questions and for clarification at each suggestion.  Once we had a pretty good list up there, I asked group to copy it down, and discuss what effect each would have the price.  Would it cause it to increase?  Or decrease?

They really blew my mind with how well they understood this.  Even though they have very little direct experience with money, they can still grasp complex ideas like this.  I also think the list was more successful because it was much easier to think only about one thing at a time.  With the web, I was asking them to consider why prices change, who benefits, and who loses all at once.  It was just too much.  This worked better.

I then asked them to write a story about a piece of fruit.  The story was told from the fruits perspective  and showed the history of picking to being sold.  However, their challenge was to incorporate Price into this story.  

These were so well done, I want to do something with them.... my mind is wandering, thinking of things to do....

One girl wrote a story about this Mango from Thailand.  It was picked and then put on an airplane and then sent to Japan to be sold on a shelf for 2000Y (close to $20, yep Mango's are expensive here!).  The Mango thought that it was a rock star celebrity, being flown first class and given preferential treatment the whole time.  She said she wants to turn it into a rap video.  Such a good idea, and might be an awesome summative assessment....

Reading Comprehension and Writing Summaries
To get into Supply and Demand, I found a pretty good explanation of it online.  The website said to was written for grade 9-10 students, but I figured that if we went through it slowly, we could decipher it.  To my surprise, they understood it quite well.  It was interesting, and a change of pace for us.  Normally, I would set up some scenario and then they would run through, and we would pull out the big ideas and make sense of the concept of supply and demand.  This time, it was reading and not doing.  While I much prefer the doing, but this was also a good experience and a nice change of pace.  I was able to learn a lot about their reading skill, and a couple of times noticed aspects we need to work in readers workshops.

This also turned into an activity on writing summaries.  For each section of the text, we wrote a brief summary to explain it.  When all the summaries were done, we combined them and wrote a summary of our summary.

Even though this was a very relaxed lesson, not much exciting, it was good to slow down and read.

Next week, we begin to start putting pieces together and looking at the big picture...