In workshops and presentations on Tapping Student Effort and Learning Styles, I often discuss the power of teachers using Live Events to deepen student motivation and effort. In Live Events, most learning style preferences are naturally present.
Live Events are often project based learning activities where the outcome of the event has a real consequence. A sophisticated simulation can include all the elements of a live event with the exception of real consequence.
Simulation: Students take part in the stock market game. Groups invest a pretend $10,000 and buy and sell across a semester, declaring a winner at the end of the term.
Live Event: Each student in the Freshman Class contributes $25 to a fund that is invested in the stock market after in depth study and consensus decision making. Students track their progress (or loss) during their high school career, cashing out to off set the cost of the senior prom.
Another example of a Live Event was in the January 6th posting, Learning in Live Events, where students at a Wisconsin school did Christmas for poverty stricken children.
The following diagram illustrates the live event elements that positively impact student learning.
A recent article appearing online at Edutopia presents a great live event example.
Philips Sala and Burton Academic High School has an Academy of Finance with its very own Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site. The VITA program, a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the nonprofit organization United Way, recruits volunteers to become certified tax preparers as a free service to households earning less than $38,000 a year. Burton’s VITA site is staffed by the high school students themselves.1
Here is how I labeled each element of a Live Event in these students’ experience.
Relevance and Real Environment
“What I love about this process is that it gets kids out of the classroom into a real environment where they can apply what they’ve learned.” “We talk in class about what it means to be professional. We talk about sales tax, interest, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). But to actually be in an office and assist someone they’ve never met before, someone who is looking to them as professionals to help prepare their taxes — all of a sudden, it feels much more real for students.”
Not only are they staying awake, but they’re grappling with the ins and outs of basic tax returns, learning about running a small business, working collaboratively in teams on complex problems, building speaking skills and self-confidence, and honing multiple academic fundamentals — including math, computer, and literacy skills — all in a real-world, high-stakes context.
“It’s great to learn skills, but it’s even better to apply them to help out your neighbors and give back to the community,” Glancing at a classroom filled with students who have the poise of professionals and who speak with the urgency of those engaged in a very real task, as well as clients who look as though they know they’re in capable hands.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” “You get kind of tense because you don’t want to mess anything up by not giving people enough money or giving them too much.”
“On a test, there’s no real difference between a 75 percent and a 95 percent. But if someone’s sitting across from you, and you’re talking about their taxes, you want to get 100 percent! You don’t want to make any mistakes.”
For more information on Live Event Learning, go to The National Educator Program to see how they work with Academies and Small Learning Communities.
1 Edutopia, Financial Aides: Teens Become Tax Preparers A high school opens a tax office, and students run the show by Sara Bernard, 2008