Teacher Spotlight — Jacob Granstaff

Jacob Granstaff is an AP Macroeconomics/Government teacher at Boerne High School in Texas. He shared his most memorable Budget Challenge experience, which occurred at a recent graduation. 

 What has been your favorite part of Budget Challenge as a teacher?

My favorite part of Budget Challenge is the length of the challenge and the pace of the challenge.  I have never found simulations that students can complete in a day or two to be helpful. This is much more real-world and provides an excellent opportunity for students to realize how the bills keep coming. You will not find a more realistic challenge. This year, we had a great learning opportunity because we had an ice storm a few days into the challenge beginning, and the students went five days between having class. This led to almost all of the class having late checks to start the game, and we were able to talk about how life happens, and bills will still be due.

What is the biggest challenge as a teacher or for your students when using Budget Challenge?

The biggest challenge is attendance. I teach primarily seniors, and in the spring, between sports, college visits, and everything else the students have going on, we will have some students with lots of penalties.

 Having used Budget Challenge for several years now, what difference do you think it is making in the lives of your students?

It is making a significant impact in their lives because they get to make the mistakes now. In fact, I try not to help them very much, and then I provide the help one on one after the mess up. I find this a more effective teaching method than showing them how to do everything and having them copy me. The challenge does as good a job as possible of making students feel the mistake and then learn from it.

Do you have a Budget Challenge story that is especially memorable?

My favorite memory of Budget Challenge was the school valedictorian used Budget Challenge as one of the most important things he learned in high school. This student was not just a valedictorian, he came from a reasonably wealthy family, and his father was a banker. That is the student who would seem to need Budget Challenge the least, but among all his AP classes and achievements, Budget Challenge was what he spoke about to the entire school. This game helps all students, no matter what their socioeconomic background is.

How do students engage with Budget Challenge differently from traditional materials?

The engagement is significantly better; they ask not only questions but relevant and pertinent questions that will help them on the assignment and in life.