Over the last few years, I have put my own currency into circulation in my Economics classes. I developed the Ganjero as a way to demonstrate a number of different economic concepts, while at the same time creating a fun and interactive way of looking at economics.
The idea came about while I was contemplating how exactly students that go above and beyond in the classroom, (such as by making quality contributions to group discussions, or in doing extension activities) could gain warranted credit.
I consider each class like a micro economy. Students are the labor who are producing their own education which is then measured by our classroom’s average grade or what I like to call our “gross domestic product per capita.”
From there, I compiled a list of ways in which student’s could gain “income”. It could be for such things as making quality contributions to class discussions, getting up to the board and showing their work, improving their exam grades, etc. You can have a lot of fun with this and even play some games for review such as jeopardy with cash prices. In addition, I have created classroom jobs that students apply for, allowing them to gain a weekly wage (I will discuss this further later on.)
Obviously, the students will not take this currency seriously unless they find VALUE in it. I have then created the Econ Cafe, where students may purchase a variety of goods or services at various prices.
My menu includes but is not limited to:
- Having your test/ quiz/ IA graded first.
- A retake of a test using different questions(averaged with your previous score)
- A retake of a test using different questions(taking the higher of the 2 scores)
- A one day late work pass (must be used prior to the due date and not after the fact.)
- Access to the class business lounge.
- A cup of coffee or tea
- Having your face put on the class currency
- Forever having your photo hung with the other elite economists of the world on my classroom wall.
These are the standard goods/ services that are offered thus far however, I have special offers/ promotions throughout the year.
In addition, I have shared this program with our Business and Management Teacher Jackson Garland, who now also has a currency, The Jack. We then created an exchange rate that changes due to a variety of circumstances. Being that we have several students that take both of our classes students may then use their currency in one class to benefit themselves in another. There are some enterprising students that are holding both currencies (regardless of the fact they are in one or both of our classes) in an effort to make profits from exchange rate movements. We have a Twitter Feed that you can see below, in the footer, that has updates for students as to any changes of the exchange rate.
I then use the currency as a way of creating fun competitions. Awards for the class with the higher average or what I call GDP, the class with the higher growth rate, the student with the highest grade (or what I call production), the student with the highest growth rate, etc.
As the “government” trying to guide our economy to the best place possible, I have discussions with students about how to create an efficient economy. Such things as lateness and misuse of tablets interfere with our class efficiency and so therefore are fined.
As you can see you can use the currency to use discuss all sorts of different economic concepts depending on how far you want to take it. Micro, Macro, International Economic concepts are all there to play with. Exchange rates, inflation, deflation are among a few of concepts I have made use of as classroom events impact our economy. For example, I might raise prices due to an extremely high demand for students that want to retake a test, etc.
Obviously, connecting this to a discussion about what money is, and the importance of opportunity cost are important and become hands on experiences. Connecting our currency to events such as the creation of Bitcoins and other local currencies around Europe to replace the Euro, all great extensions to be made. In addition, it does allow the chance to further bring math into the classroom.
Lastly, with the salaried positions I have created in class it makes for a more efficient classroom, where students have more of a vested interest. Such positions that I have created:
Class Comptroller: The student that records student classroom contributions based on a simple rubric and reports back to me bi-weekly.
Class Secretary: The student who sends out agenda items, such as due dates for homework, or dates for quizzes and tests.
Class Notetaker: I like to have one solid notetaker to produce digital notes for each class. It helps to demonstrate and model good note taking skills, provides for a great study guide as well as making an easy way for absent students to make up any missed work. It keeps students from keeping their tablets open all the time and allows me to have students to still use notebooks, without giving up having a digital copy.
Class Personal Trainer: Being that we have block classes that go for 90 minutes, I feel it a necessity to get students on their feet doing some sort of activity that gets their blood flowing. Therefore, I have a student act as that class trainer. They get the class up at 45 minutes in and have some sort of activity that gets the blood moving, along with activating both the left and right sides of the brain.
The Barista: This student is responsible for preparing any coffee or tea students would like to purchase. I do look at coffee and tea as merit goods, if one drinks them in moderation and so therefore make them available to students in class. Check out the reported benefits of coffee and tea. In addition, I am a supporter of Fair Trade Coffee and Tea and assure that we have Fair Trade products in class leading to positive impacts on our community development.
Cafe Maintenance Crew: Obviously if students drink coffee we need cleanup after ourselves. I noticed that students would rather not drink coffee/ tea if it involved taking the time to both make and clean up after themselves. The additional opportunity cost of time kept students from opting from drinking coffee and tea. That is where these positions came about. Students do a quick cleanup during break time, as to not interfere with class.
Obviously you can come up for other positions if you would like as well.
I then have students submit bids for the different jobs with an expected weekly salary. I let the supply of workers willing to work vs. wage requests guide who gets the job and their salary. I change the jobs up quarterly.
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