Monday, October 16, 2017

Gamifying financial literacy education with Star Banks Adventure

In the past, I have had the occasion to write blog posts about various aspects of financial literacy. There are many well-done Web sites created by experts in the field of personal finance that can be helpful to ensure students master the financial literacy skillset.


There is now a no-cost, engaging and informational online game from T. Rowe Price titled Star Banks Adventure available for teachers and students to instruct and learn about financial concepts within a gamified environment. Star Banks Adventure is also available as an iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire app. Just go to the Star Banks Adventure game site for links to them all.

The Star Banks Adventure game targets students in grades 5-8 and it includes puzzles and quick quizzes dealing with financial and personal finance concepts and is set in a sci-fi environment. I am not an experienced gamer, but the Star Banks Adventure game provides live demos right within the game, so I was able to catch on quickly how to maneuver and move through the levels. Each level builds upon the concepts in the previous level, so students get a deep-dive into each concept.


The Star Banks Adventure game was intended to help teachers introduce real world money concepts to students in middle school. There is a great curriculum matrix included within the teacher section of the Classroom Edition. The concepts taught in the game are mapped to national standards in personal finance, national standards in economics, and the Common Core State Standards. Below is a section of the curriculum matrix for levels one and two of the Star Banks Adventure game.

T. Rowe Price offers many additional financial resources for educators on their Money Confident Kids site. This site provides background information on financial concepts and includes downloadable magazines for students, print resources, videos, activators, and more. I suggest starting at the Teaching Tools and Activities page of the site, which includes PDF guides for both middle school and high school teachers. The Money Confident Kids site also includes a parent section to help parents reinforce some of these personal finance concepts at home.


The Classroom Edition of the Star Banks Adventure game includes an administrative dashboard for the teacher. Teachers create their own account on this page. In addition to including how-to tutorials for the Dashboard itself, the Dashboard allows the teacher to create online classroom groups, manage these  groups, monitor their students' progress, and compare their students' data with other classrooms in the United States. In the Teacher Dashboard area there are also tutorials introducing each of the six financial concepts included in the game -- setting a financial goal, prioritizing spending, rate of return, asset allocation, inflation and time horizon, and diversification.

Teachers can create as many classrooms as they need in the Dashboard and also view each student's progress and well as the aggregated classroom progress. Students have both a Classroom ID and User ID, neither of which include the real name of the student. Fun pseudonyms for the student names are generated as the teacher creates the User IDs.

Starting at the beginning of the game and moving through the levels helps reinforce the skills as they are learned. However teachers can have students work on a specific subject if they wish and jump to a specific topic.


I tried out the online version of the game on both Mac and Windows laptops and and on iOS, Android, and Google Fire devices. It worked flawlessly on all of these. It does not seem to run on the Chromebook nor with the Google Play Store install on my Asus Flip Chromebook. 

The Star Banks Adventure game provides a fun, engaging, educational, and informative way for students to learn about personal finance and becoming financially literate. Give it a try with your students!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of We Are Teachers and T. Rowe Price.
I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.
STAR BANKS ADVENTURE and MONEY CONFIDENT KIDS are registered trademarks of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Sharing your ideas with video and audio

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in October 2017 and is re-posted here with permission.

Sharing your successful practices with others is an important part of the role of a educator. Traditionally you have probably shared your ideas, tips, tricks, and findings in-person with your grade level team, your district team, and with face-to-face audiences at regional and national conferences. However, with the current crop of digital apps and tools, it is easier than ever to share those same practices with educators everywhere!
These tools and apps fall into various categories– curation tools, text-based tools, audio recording tools, video recording tools, and visual tools. This month I will be discussing tools that take advantage of video and audio recording to allow you to easily share your findings with others.



Flipgrid One

Flipgrid is an online tool and mobile app that allows a teacher to post a topic for students, who then respond with up to a 15 or 90 second video. The videos are embeddable and sharable via a URL. The no-cost version includes:
  • One Grid with unlimited topics
  • Recordings of 15 or 90 seconds
  • Security, privacy and moderation settings
  • Simple individual student feedback
However, you can use Flipgrid as a platform for sharing your ideas, too! Create a teacher account, post a topic question, and enter the Grid as a student each time you want to share a new finding or suggestion and have others log-in as students, too. You can even create a separate Grid for each category or topic. It is so simple to do and you will soon have a collection of short videos you can share with other educators!
I have my graduate students in the Wilkes/Discovery Instructional Media Masters program at Wilkes University sharing their favorite tools. Take a look at some of the postings and feel free to add one of your own! (Grid code: 2y1eaif and PW: edtech)


Adobe Spark Video

Adobe Spark Video is a part of Adobe’s Spark suite of tools which includes Video, Post, and Page. Previously called Adobe Voice, Adobe Spark Video is available as both a browser-based tool and iOS app. The power of Adobe Spark Video is the toolset and assets that are included. Its ease of use is enhanced by easily combining photos, video clips, and icons into the video. the tool and app also include an image library, free soundtracks, and the ability to narrate each part of the project. There are themes to pick from as well as the option to start from scratch.Once you create your professional development video of your ideas, you can host it on the Adobe site and Tweet out the URL, or embed it on your own blog or Web page to share your ideas with others. Don’t forget to join the Adobe Education Exchange to find (and share) tips, tutorials, and sample Adobe Spark Video projects.

PowerPoint and Keynote

Remember that your local multimedia programs, like Microsoft’s PowerPoint and Apples Keynote, can be used to easily create a video from a slide presentation. You can add your thoughts and ideas to new slides as often as you wish, and save the presentation as a PowerPoint or Keynote file until you are ready to share all the ideas as a video.
In Keynote, simply create the slides, add audio to each slide if you wish, and then pick FILE – EXPORT TO – QUICKTIME. You are presented with various options for playback as seen below.
In PowerPoint, simply pick FILE – EXPORT – choose MOVIE from the dropdown menu, and you will be presented with the video options shown below.
Once the slide deck has been saved/exported as a video file, it can then be uploaded to Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook, or any other video hosting site, embedded in an online blog or shared, via the URL, on Twitter.


Sometimes creating a video to share your thoughts can be daunting. If you would rather not face the camera, creating an audio file or podcast to share your thoughts can be just as effective! Here are some easy-to-use tools to help with that process.


Vocaroo is the easiest tool for creating a simple audio file and then sending out the link to the file which is stored for a few months on the Vocaroo server, embedding the audio file in a Web page or blog, sharing it with one your social media accounts, or downloading it to your local computer to upload somewhere else. With no sign-in, no limit on the length of the recording, and a very simple interface, Vocaroo can help you quickly and easily share your ideas!


Clyp is a tool that can be used to host your audio files all in one place. It can be used with downloaded files from something like Vocaroo, or with Audacity or Garage Band and audio files you create using your technology gadgets. You sinply sign up, upload your files, and share the URL of the entire list of audio files or the unique URL for a single Clyp. Finding a reputable place to host your audio files is hard to do, and Clyp fits the bill!

iPadio and Podomatic

iPadio and Podomatic are two tools that are used to easily create podcasts. The difference between a simple audio file uploaded to the Web and a podcast, is the podcast can be aggregated in a podcast collector like iTunes.
When a podcast is created with iPadio or Podomatic, the “feed address” is also created. This feed address is added by the podcast creator to a directory of podcasts, like iTunes.
Then, when users use their iTunes account to “subscribe” to the podcast, each time a new podcast is recorded by the creator, the user automatically receives the downloaded new podcast in their iTunes account.
There are some special recording features in both iPadio and Podomatic.
iPadio allows the podcast creator to use their phone to call in and record the podcast. The podcast and iTunes/RSS feed, can be shared to many social media tools, and embedded into a Web page or blog.
Podomatic allows creators to upload the audio files from their computer, phone, or tablet and add it to their podcast page. Users can visit the podcast page and subscribe, using the iTunes or RSS link, to the podcast series and receive any new ones right in their podcast aggregation program.


What video and audio recording tools do you use for sharing your ideas with others? I have included only a few of my favorites and encourage you to add your special apps and tools to Twitter! #kathyskatch
Header image by Ansonlobo.