The stock market is an important part of American economic life, and affords lots of teachable moments. It’s a terrific long-term study, which makes it good for the beginning of the school year, and for encouraging responsibility and consistent work habits. It can also be exciting, as you watch “your” stocks rise and fall.
First you need a really good way to follow stocks. The best I’ve seen is a smart free application called FoxStocks. It’s an add-on to Firefox, so you’ll need to download Firefox if you don’t already have it, and then download FoxStocks.
If your students are old enough to study the stock market, they’ll be able to do this for you, if you’re not sure you can do it yourself, but I bet you can. Then restart Firefox and you’ll see the FoxStocks logo on your toolbar.
FoxStocks will track 10 different stocks for you, updating them automatically at your toolbar.
As a class, choose a group of stocks to follow. This is a great chance for research, and for lessons meeting standards in economics or geography. Here are a few ideas to get your started:
- Choose local companies.
- Choose companies your students’ parents work for.
- Choose companies your class cares about, such as the companies that make their favorite movies, records, fashion items, games, or toys.
- Choose companies you’ve studied in other contexts.
- Choose companies you think will do well in the near future. If you go this route, be sure to spend time discussing the characteristics the class thinks will lead to success.
Add your choices to FoxStocks by typing in the four-letter code for the company, which you can find online or in the financial section of your local paper. You’ll need to left-click on the FoxStocks logo, and you’ll get a window into which to type the codes. That’s all there is to it.
Follow your stocks’ fortunes and keep track using charts and graphs. Use the method most appropriate for your class’s level and for your math lessons:
- Graphing Pocket Chart
- student-created graphs using pencil and paper
- Create a Graph
- Microsoft Excel charts
After observing the stocks for a while, decide as a class on a few stocks to invest in, and make some imaginary investments. You can then keep track of your investments and see how much money you would have made or lost.
This simple but satisfying lesson plan gives you plenty of opportunities for practicing skills in math, problem-solving, and research. Add economics and social studies lessons by learning more about how the stock market works.
Understanding Investment & the Stock Market is a good basic resource with lots of reproducibles. It’ll give everyone the essential background they need, and also give you things to grade.
Stock Market Tycoon is a surprisingly fun game, not unlike Monopoly in terms of play.
Wheedle Stock Trading Game is a card game, and it can get as loud and raucous as a trading floor, so be warned. We love it, though, even for fun play at home, and it can give good practice in negotiation and strategy. For classroom use, follow up with a discussion of what kinds of strategies worked well: forming alliances? appealing to people’s self-interest? logic?
There are online resources as well:
- CNN’s lesson plan has high school students look at the performance of the stock market in their lifetimes.
- Risks and Rewards looks at economics issues that affect the stock market. Pair it with Wheedle Stock Trading Game for a lively and thought provoking unit.
- MoneyInstructor explains how to read stock market tables with worksheets.