April 2009

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How do we engage fifth graders, some who learned BrainWise in lower grades, and others who may never BrainWise, to write an essay that applies the 10 Wise Ways to money?

BrainWise and the Rotary Club of Denver Mile High, with funds from a Daniels Fund grant, is holding a May, 2009 competition for 50 fifth graders attending Denver’s Eagleton Elementary School. Students will be asked to write a one page essay in response to this scenario: “You have won $100. Tell a story about how you would manage this prize by being BrainWise and using the 10 Wise Ways.” A team of Rotarians will review the essays, and the top twenty will be given to a celebrity judge to pick three winners. First prize is $100.00, second prize is $50.00, and third prize is $25.00. Additionally, the teacher whose student wins the first prize will receive $100 for her classroom.

We are not allowed to spill the beans on our judge yet, so be sure to check-in for an update here in the next few weeks as we can tell you more.

An exciting news up-date in recent BrainWise action:  A Be BrainWise with Money literary competition and an update on our first two Be BrainWise with Money classes for grades 4-9!

 

Dr. Patricia Gorman Barry, with Rotary volunteers Patricia and Terry Fiske, are teaching a five-session Be BrainWise with Money class to fifth graders attending Eagleton Elementary School, a low-performing, predominantly Hispanic school in Denver.  The fifth graders were taught BrainWise in the second grade, and are getting a reinforcement dose of the wise ways by applying them to financial concepts.

 

The course, funded by a grant from the Daniels Fund, reinforces the BrainWise program’s 10 Wise Ways by integrating them into key financial concepts, including spending, credit, saving, wants vs. needs, financial risks, impulse purchases, financial planning, and debt. 

 

The material builds on a financial course Dr. Barry and volunteers taught a few months earlier to fifth graders at University Park Elementary.  University Park fifth graders had been taught BrainWise in kindergarten, and the school, serving children in the neighborhood surrounding the University of Denver, piloted BrainWise for Grades K-5 in 1996.  University Park has been teaching BrainWise ever since, and provide a launching ground for Be BrainWise with Money and a way to reinforce BrainWise concepts by applying them to financial literacy.  This pilot project replicates findings from research conducted on Life Skills Training and other evidence-based programs, that showed giving students a booster of the program years later helps them retain the concepts.  We piloted the program in schools where BrainWise had been taught to fifth graders in earlier grades.  The purpose was two fold:  to have them practice applying the 10  Wise Ways to make good financial decisions and to help them retain and use their thinking skills as they move into middle school, high school, and adulthood. 

 

Applying the BrainWise concepts to finances adds an important element.  Even if the children have not had a formal financial education course, the activities and games introduce them to important concepts and show them how to use thinking skills to make financial decisions. The reinforcement activities and games we developed for the five sessions will be made available to all BrainWise instructors as a Be BrainWise with Money supplement to the BrainWise curriculum.  Pre and posttests developed by Dr. Lewis Mandel, developer of the Jumpstart National Financial Survey for High School Seniors, will be available to administer to the students.

 

 This new adaptation is exciting for the BrainWise team.  We are pleased with how well the children received the sessions, and were impressed with their ability to make good financial choices and connect them with Wizard Brain thinking, using their constellation of support, recognizing red flag warnings, staying low or off the emotions elevators, separating facts from opinions, identifying choices, considering consequences, setting goals, and communicating effectively. 

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