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Get Busy in the Beehive: A Life-Skills Lifeline

Diane Demee-Benoit

Former Director of Outreach at Edutopia
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Here's a great Web-based resource most educators don't know about. Though this Web site is not specifically designed with the school audience in mind, I think you'll find it extremely valuable, and will be able to integrate it into a number of curricular areas. It's great for interdisciplinary, project-based learning.

First, I want to tell you a little bit about the organization that developed it. It does important work and deserves some credit. The One Economy Corporation, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, was started by a group of social entrepreneurs who wanted to maximize the potential of technology to help low-income and moderate-income people improve their lives and join the economic mainstream. They realize that one of the reasons poor people are isolated is that they lack access to technology and the information technology brings.

One Economy found out early on that most of the information on the Web is for economically mainstream consumers. The information targeting "the poor," however, is often written in a way that is not accessible to them. So, One Economy thought a lot about Internet content: What kind of information is most important to people in lower socioeconomic classes? Is the information culturally competent? What kind of information is available to monolingual Spanish readers?

One Economy found out that the most important information to help low-income people improve their economic standing would be resources about health, finances, careers, education, and helping children succeed in school.

Therefore, One Economy created the Beehive, a consumer Web site with important information about money, health, school, jobs, child care, and much more. These are some of the cool tools, content, and links I think teachers, students, and parents might use. (Note that you can sort information by state or nation and by language. You may have to register in order to access some of the tools.)

In the school section (available in English and Spanish), you'll find information you can pass on to parents -- how they can help their children with homework, for example, or planning for and affording a college education -- as well as to students. This consists mostly of best-of-the-Web links, but the section for high school students has some interesting content on how to prepare for the SAT and about going to college (finding the right college, what to look for, and so on).

In the jobs-and-career section, there's a career-match quiz -- great for high school students thinking about future jobs and necessary education -- and a résumé builder. If you are a school counselor, or you're a teacher who wants to use the topic of careers as an experience in PBL, this is for you.

In the section about starting and owning a business, business teachers will love the appreciation for building business plans, and English teachers can use it as a composition exercise. This section also contains top-notch content on managing cash flow, investing, and examples of problems faced by growing businesses. (Have teams of students analyze the problems and come up with possible solutions.)

Please share what you think of the site, as well as recommendations of other similar resources.

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Diane Demee-Benoit

Former Director of Outreach at Edutopia

Comments (3) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Mark Kling's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I enjoyed your article about helping students understand finances. I, as a parent wanted to teach my son a bit about finances. Finding mostly "bookwork" type lessons available, I created my own "life simulation" for him. As it was being created, parents and teachers found out about it and asked if it could be made for school use. I recreated it for use over the web. I invite you to look at . It is intended to allow a student to make choices and see how it effects their finances. It became hard to discribe but interesting for youth to go through. Since my son is a Boy Scout, I was able to have his troop use it as a test case, and found that they became educated about their finances and what mom and dad are going through to pay for all they do.
I welcome any comments you might have on the site or its content.

Mark Kling

T. R. Girill's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Anyone working with students whose nonfiction writing skills are far below grade level might be interested in a literacy-development project jointly sponsored by the East Bay Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication and the Computation Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The idea is to adapt "technical writing" techniques from the work world into authentic skill-building activities for the classroom.

One revealing overview from the perspective of ESL students is:
How Document Design Helps English Learners Master Science
Another perspective, which builds on the popularity of "crime scene investigation" among students, is:
Forensic Science Meets Technical Writing in Your Classroom

annie laya's picture

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