Teacher Spotlight with Celeste Smith (Implementing Budget Challenge as a Distance Learning Tool)

​Celeste's class had a diverse set of students which presented challenges but she shared with us how they were able to successfully navigate the simulation.

"I had one junior, two freshman, three sophomores, and even one seventh grader but we made it work. Thanks for the BC emails along the way. They were helpful as a newbie to the simulation."

How did you learn about Budget Challenge?

We were researching tools that would teach budgeting and good financial habits and came across the Budget Challenge. We discovered that Budget Challenge was more comprehensive than some of the other programs out there.

How do you think your students benefited from the Learning-By-Doing concept?

Students tend to be discriminating in their engagement levels and how they spend their learning time. The students took away different lessons based on their interest, grade, level of initial knowledge, and support. It was important for the students to learn that managing finances is not a one and done. The 10-week Budget Challenge simulation allowed them to develop a cadence that balanced learning financial topics and putting that knowledge to work in real time. They were able to make “real life” decisions that had benefits in the form of trophies and points and financial consequences.

Many schools and teachers are having to implement Distance Learning Strategies or Non-Traditional Instruction. What advice can you give to a parent or teacher using Budget Challenge under these unusual circumstances?

It is a fantastic tool to teach long-term skills. You can use a combination of Budget Challenge tools along with other teaching tools to be creative. The simulation is designed for students to engage with the challenge every day. With remote or non-traditional learning, you may not have the opportunity to engage with students in a classroom setting everyday.  Don’t be afraid to try non-traditional times to connect with students. Zoom and other web conferencing tools can be used to create face-to-face (or voice to face) engagement. Encourage parental engagement through weekly updates and unit themes. Parents using the Budget Challenge will need to be prepared to invest time in support of their students whose interest may vary due to the nature of the topics. Timing is important as well. Consider the current academic load when rolling out the challenge. Encourage parents with other similarly aged students to join to make it a community of learners.

How were you able to secure funding for your students to participate in Budget Challenge?

We engaged sponsors in the financial industry with the idea to support financial literacy for students. While we secured funding, we didn’t reach the anticipated number of students for the first round. The Budget Challenge is affordable for groups, clubs, and others who may not be able to secure funding. This is a benefit especially for parents looking for a comprehensive low-cost program for their students.

What resources provided by Budget Challenge helped you prepare for your simulation? 

We used every resource available in the simulation, including timelines, parent letters, videos, charts, topic objectives, mini case studies, email reminders, etc. These were very valuable.

In preparing your class for their simulation, what were the students most excited about? 

They were most excited about the trophies and the simulated account.  They were also excited about having a simulated car and apartment.