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March 2nd, 2016

In the summer of 2014, I traveled with other North Carolinia teachers to Germany with the UNC Center for International Understanding. We were there to study their education and youth training programs, as well as renewable and sustainable energy.

We learned how Siemen's Corporation prepares students for a wide variety of company positions. Not only do German companies provide great opportunities, these young people are also paid a healthy monthly stipend while they learn, usual. Training starts at age 16 and continues until the trainee is hired or moved into the corporate management track.

After seeing how students valued how working in teams was beneficial in accomplishing tasks efficiently, I decided including a cooperative learning group based on business would help my students in preparing for careers. When we returned from our trip, I mulled over implementation of my idea and tried different approaches. It wasn't until I saw a clip of the show "Shark Tank" my plan came together. Watch a clip of Shark Tank's Young Entrepreneur segment.

When my students won a 3-D Printer from the Durham County Library's summer reading program (YAY for teens who love books!), I wove that into the plan, as well.

In all of the learning units I've planned and implemented over the years, this one was, by far, the most successful and rewarding for my students. Through hard work, cooperation, and research the student corporations were brought to life. On the culminating day, the students' final assessment was negotiating for financing with our investment panel.

During the course of the unit, students created a business plan, a financial projection and loan forms, advertising plans, and persuasive business letters. The goal was to design promotional school items for ECHS and build a marking plan around their ideas. Athough they put in many hours and worked diligently on their projects, the students loved working on this unit. Older students, whom I did not teach, come by to tell me they wish they had such practical and important lessons. You know it's working when hard tasks and in-depth coursework becomes the buzz around campus!

One of the best changes we could implement here in the United States is a return to job training programs. In Germany, the companies indicated it was their DUTY to help train youth. They believed their children are their greatest asset and should spend corporate funds helping raise them as productive citizens who are paid well, have job satisfaction, and are valued.

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