This activity was created in 2008, when I first made the switch from middle school down to 5th grade. My class was getting ready to move into a unit about the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. I was afraid one of the central concepts involved in the history of the 1920’s and 30’s would be glossed over as another random fact. Many elementary and middle school students don’t really even know what the stock market is. Without a deeper understanding of the stock market, and how it is connected to the economy, my students were doomed to quickly pass over the crash, without truly grasping what they had learned. I wanted my students to feel the gravity of the situation. I wanted them feel the greed that overtook many people. I wanted them to understand the concepts and not just memorize the facts. So I schemed up this simulation.
I have used this simulation with all types of classes and in a variety of settings. I have used it with advanced, remedial, and on-level classes. With each experience, I have gleaned new ways of running the simulation to make it better fit the needs of my students. The simulation is designed to take place over 10 days (although the simulation time can be altered to meet the needs and time constraints of your classroom). When I do the simulation, I typically spend about 3 hours total over the course of the 10 day simulation. The amount of time spent could be reduced if you only teach social studies and are not interested in integrating math with the simulation.
The simulation integrates several math standards including adding, subtracting, and multiplying decimals. Practical application of math skills in a meaningful situation, is a powerful tool. Providing context for social studies and helping students realize that it is meaningfully connected to other subject areas is also powerful.
This simulation includes:
--Day by day instructions for how to implement the simulation effectively
--Student packet for keeping track of their investments
--Teacher tips and recommendations for how to adjust or present various parts of the simulation
--Student reflection pages, including a passage about the Stock Market Crash of 1929