"You're an Adult Now!" WebQuest!

Project URL: www.teachersnetwork.org/teachnetusa/jcole/webquest.htm 

How it works:
Students have difficulty managing their money. As adults, they will have to effectively allocate their limited resources within the typical wants and needs of everyday life.  The students are given a scenario where they are adults with a yearly salary of $31,500. They start out thinking that they are doing fairly well, until they have to find a place to live that is within their budget. Students use a hotlist of Internet sites to find an apartment, and compare and contrast the cost of apartments in different locations within the continental USA. Once an apartment is located, they figure out what percentage of their take-home pay is spent on housing and submit pictures and a description of their new residence. Next, students have fun while they figure out what kind of transportation is in their budget. Using their hotlist, they research new and used cars as well as financing. Once again, they compute the percentage of income spent on this item and then follow the same process for telephone service as well as groceries.( It's fun to watch students insist that they can live on macaroni and cheese alone--after all, it was on sale at netgrocer.com!) When their research is completed, they write a reflection paper and examine whether their salary is realistic for their vocation as well as their location! This project helps students examine real-world living as well as their vocational choices.

Standards addressed:  
The objectives of the WebQuest are those included within the NYS Career Development and Occupational Studies. Specifically, the WebQuest addresses: Career Development, Integrated Learning, Universal Foundation Skills, and Career Majors.

Additionally, students state the difference between wants and needs, compare and contrast the cost of living in different locations, budget for wants and needs, comparison shop for automobiles and explore financing options, comparison shop for telephone services, explore the price of groceries, and reflect upon starting salaries in a chosen field.

Materials used:
Computers with Internet access (the faster the connection the better!) and a word processing program (such as Microsoft Word) and a printer are necessary.

The students:
Students should have some basic Internet skills and word processing skills.  This WebQuest is intended for high school students but can be adapted for the middle school level. Students have been very creative with this program. For example, some students chose roommates in order to lower their housing costs. Other students decided to carpool to work in order to lower transportation costs. Students were able to work individually or in pairs.

Overall value:
Students gain "real world" exposure to the "adult facts of life."  They examine what it takes to live on their own and some of the expenses that they will incur. This gives them important exposure to these real-life skills, especially for seniors who have "pipe dreams" about "living in style." Students find this program both fun and relevant. They reflect upon how much money is needed to live in the lifestyle they choose. They also learn to make concessions in life as adults often do (i.e., " I can afford more in rent if I live in a city that has public transportation"). Students have left the computer lab stating, "This is the best project that we have done all year." Additionally, students gain experience in the art of Internet use.

Have fun with this project. Encourage students to be flexible and make concessions. It is helpful if students learn how to right-click and open pages in a new window so they don't lose their original page. Have individual conferences with your students during the project in order to monitor progress. Students must submit their worksheets and their final reflection paper.

About the teacher:
Jennifer Cole is an English Language Arts Instructor at the Rockland County BOCES Career Education Center. Her job is to integrate New York State Regents standards into vocational programs.  Jennifer has worked with the academic team at her school on a staff development program to help colleagues integrate both academics and technology into their programs.  She has presented this "Cohort Model of Staff Development" at local and state conferences. Additionally, Jennifer has written an English Language Arts curriculum that infuses technical reading and writing into the vocational classroom at the commencement level of the new Regents standard.  This curriculum has generic ELA projects that can be adapted for use in any vocational program.


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