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Green students learning stock market not just a game

3/28/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

Freshmen Tina Cool and Ethan Wiest discuss how their stocks are doing for a financial literacy course.
Victor Anstine and Miriam Blaine, both freshmen at Green High School, check their stocks online for a class assignment.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
GREEN — Jon Wallace, personal financial literacy teacher at Green High School, likes to teach winning lessons to his 100 students each quarter.

He is teaching his students about investing in the stock market as part of the course, and they are participating in an online game. The students, mostly freshmen and some sophomores, are learning first-hand about the market as they each invest $10,000 of virtual money in an online stock exchange game during the nine-week course, said Wallace.

The students choose what stocks they want to purchase or sell for real market prices, and many pick companies familiar to them, such as Google, Apple, McDonald’s Corp. or Microsoft. This year, students are using www.howthemarketworks.com, which is a password-protected secure site, Wallace said. The website performs like a real brokerage for the classes and is a private contest just for Green students, he said.

“Students are not graded on their success [in the market]. They are graded on their overall activity,” Wallace said. “Some do well and some lose a lot of money.”

He said he is able to track the individual trading history of each of his students.

Students can see online how well or how poorly they are doing in the market, and they are ranked in the order of their success, Wallace said.

“I invested $10,000, and thought I’d make $1 million really fast,” said freshman Miriam Blaine. “I’m doing really well, but I’ve only made $200.”

The virtual lessons can become a competition for some of his students, said Wallace, who has taught for 14 years at Green. He has taught personal financial literacy for the past three years and said he enjoys seeing how students become interested in their investments.

“They are constantly checking their stocks on their phones or computers,” Wallace said. “It’s fun to see the students make predictions because the stock market is not predictable.”

Freshman Victor Anstine said the class has opened his eyes to how the stock market works, and he spends about one hour a week on the assignment.

“I pay attention a little more than usual now to things in the news that affect the stock market,” he said.

Sophomore Will Gore said the assignment has helped him to better understand the stock market.

“Since it is a contest, we are all motivated to try our best,” he said. “I learned it is best not to put all my eggs in one basket and to research companies before investing in them.”

Freshman Ryan Hallbauer said he [recently was] in last place in the virtual game, but he still enjoys the competitive aspect of the assignment. He said one day he may want to invest in the real stock market after his classroom experience.

The stock market game is a popular assignment with students, said Green High School Principal Cindy Brown.

“This gives them real-world experience that helps them understand a difficult topic,” she said.

An Ohio graduation requirement since 2008, students are required to study economics and financial literacy, said Wallace, and his class also incorporates other lessons, including future career choices, budgeting, banking and credit.

“We want to make our citizens more financially literate,” Wallace said. “Education leads to a better financial future.”

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