I am completing a social entrepreneurship unit with my gifted students, grades 2nd through 5th. It was one of my favorite units . . . ever, and from their reactions, I believe it was one of theirs, too. I call it a perfect STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) unit. The first part of this post explains some of the rationale for this project, and the second part describes the unit, itself.
Why a Unit on Social Entrepreneurship
First, I wanted my learners, who are from lower income families, to develop both an entrepreneur mindset and entrepreneur skills along with the creativity and innovation that comes with these skills.
Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy. Because entrepreneurship can, and should, promote economic opportunity, it can serve as an agent of social justice. Furthermore, entrepreneurship has historically spurred minorities, women and immigrants to create better lives for themselves and their families. (Why Schools Should Teach Entrepreneurship)
Second, not only did I want my learners to gain entrepreneur skills, I wanted them to experience the benefits of starting a company in order to raise money to give to a “cause” also known as a form of social entrepreneurship.
Not every child is temperamentally suited to be a social entrepreneur. Not every child is suited to be a scientist, mathematician, or artist. But elementary school-age kids do have the natural curiosity, imagination, drive, and ability to come up with innovative ways to change the world for the better. By exposing our kids to a variety of disciplines, including social entrepreneurship, we are teaching them they have what it takes to “be the change.” One well-known expert on social entrepreneurship, David Bornstein, puts it this way: Once an individual has experienced the power of social entrepreneurship, he or she will “never go back to being a passive actor in society.” (Young Kids Need to Learn About Social Entrepreneurship)
Third, this unit met my own criteria for an effective and powerful unit:
- Instructional challenges are hands-on, experiential, and naturally engaging for learners.
- Learning tasks are authentic, relevant, and promote life skills outside of the formal classroom.
- The challenges are designed to be novel, and create excitement and joy for learners.
- Learner choice and voice are valued.
- Lessons address cross curricular standards. They are interdisciplinary (like life) where multiple, cross-curricular content areas are integrated into the instructional activities.
- Learning activities get learners interested in and excited about a broad array of topics especially in the areas of science, engineering, math, language arts, and the arts.
- Communication, collaboration, and problem solving are built into the learning process.
- Reading and writing are integrated into the learning activities in the form of fun, interesting books and stories, and writing stories, narratives, journalistic reports.
- Educational technology is incorporated with a focus on assisting with the learning activities not to learn technology just for the sake of learning it.
- There is a natural building of social emotional skills – tolerance for frustration, expression of needs, working as a team.
Schedule of Learning Activities
Here was the schedule of learning activities I used for this unit:
- Online Games
- Market Survey – Google Form
- Analyzing Results, Deciding of Products, Testing Products
- Expense Sheet – Expenses and Assets
- Business Plan
- Promotional Flyer
- Sales and Record Sheet
Video. Learners were introduced to entrepreneurship with the following video: