Nichole Van Sickle (nee Mick), a graduate of the Professional Development program in the Faculty of Education, is an outstanding teacher who makes a difference in lives of her students by engaging then in meaningful mathematical experiences. She is among a few elementary school teachers who do not only acknowledge the importance of mathematical competence for students’ future careers, but who work with students to achieve this competence. She believes that students are most engaged when their classroom learning is deeply connected to the world beyond school. So she created a functional “virtual economy” in her French Immersion grade 6/7 class in Port Coquitlam. Students learn not only how to balance their budget by considering different kinds of income and expenses, but also how to start a business and to minimize interest charges. This is in line with the newly introduced emphasis on “financial literacy” in the BC mathematics curriculum.
And while some computations are unavoidable in a mathematics classroom as well as in finance, the virtual economy is a vehicle for students for strengthening problem solving skills, abstract thinking and strategic decision making. The solid grounding of Ms. Van Sickle’s students will serve them well in making important decisions in the future.
Submitted by: Rina Zazkis