6 Ways to Help Kids Learn Real-World Skills

With free financial literacy courses for high school and middle school, social-emotional learning, and digital literacy classes, today we highlight six ways you can help students learn real-world skills. Right now, many of us are looking for high-quality, easy-to-use materials that can reach students both at home and in the face-to-face classroom. Today’s show features six ideas for courses with this in mind and is sponsored by Everfi. We talked to educator Alyssa Lyons about how to bring real-world skills to your classroom with some powerful curriculum.

learn real world skills

Everfi sponsored this episode which contains advertorial content. All opinions are my own.

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Alyssa Lyons – Bio As Submitted

Alyssa Lyons taught 3rd grade for 8 years prior to coming to EVERFI. 4 years in North Carolina and 4 years in the city of Pittsburgh. During college and her years of teaching, she was involved in many organizations that involved supporting students from K-12 to new opportunities available in their backyards so that students were equipped with the knowledge that they had the power to do anything they put their mind to. Passionate about financial wellness, thanks to her father, she is a first-generation college student and saw first hand what the power of financial capability can do for one's future and confidence.

Twitter: @MahrumusAlyssa

6 Ways to Help Students Learn Real-World Skills: Transcript

VICKI: 00:02 Episode 753, Six Ways to Help Kids Learn Real-World Skills. Today's show is about free, real-world courses created by EVERFI that K-12 teachers can use in their classrooms now. Each year I do just a handful of advertorial episodes. It is helpful for teachers and can provide real value. And this is one of those episodes. Stay tuned at the end of the show for how you can get started with some awesome, free lesson plans and get a virtual swag bag full of free goods. And as always, all opinions are my own. Let's get started.
Intro: 00:38 Welcome to the 10-minute teacher podcast hosted by author, educator, speaker, and mom, the Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis.
VICKI: 00:47 So today we are talking with Alyssa Lyons, eight-year third-grade teacher who now works with EVERFI to support teachers, districts, and communities all over North America with some incredible real-world resources that we will be featuring on this show. So EVERFI is the sponsor of this show and Alyssa does work for EVERFI, but all of these courses are free and awesome. And of course, all opinions are my own and everything that I share will be my own. Now, Alyssa, we're going to talk today about six essential skills that students need to be ready for the real world. Where do we start?
ALYSSA: 01:27 Yeah, well, thank you so much for having me today, Vicki. This is exciting to talk about, especially as we tackle the new school year. But as a teacher, I'm really passionate about talking with real-world skills. And I just want to preference before we get into that is that our students are constantly living in the real world, right? We want to think about things that are happening in their world as we know it. And then also though is once they're out of our classroom of our buildings to make sure that they're set up for success.
VICKI: 01:58 Well, we want to be relevant and we want to understand that children, they're complex and they want to be relevant to their real world. I mean, I always talk about wastebasket work is a waste of time. If the student knows it doesn't relate and the teachers are going to throw it in the trash can, then what does it matter? So where do we start? What's our first win?
ALYSSA: 02:17 Exactly. Yes, we always want to answer that age-old question of when am I going to use this. So the first one, I kind of want to talk about today is something that we're really passionate about here at EVERFI, and it's a personal passion of mine as well. Students, especially now throughout the last couple of months that they've heard it more in their homes, they're thinking about it more as they are thinking towards college and careers is the ability to make those informed choices about money. How does money happen in my world today? What are the things that I can do at an early age, in high school, and beyond so that's going to set me up for success in the future?
VICKI: 03:03 Okay, so you have some free resources you want to mention because I will say financial literacy is part of what I teach. And when I've used simulations and courses and things, students have really been highly engaged, even a lot of the students who don't seem to care about, say, math or other content because they know that it relates. So what are some resources that teachers can use to help their kids get started?
ALYSSA: 03:24 First, thank you so much for teaching students about financial wellness. And I just learned the other day that there is actually a whole TikTok series on learning about money. So I think it's very relevant to students today. But financial literacy is our flagship. That's where we started from. So we have courses, everything from the elementary level where it really intertwines how financial wellness and social-emotional skills are intertwined. We look at that middle school age group. We've actually done a whole study of how the student brain can react to learning about money at such a pivotal age. So we have a course that is sponsored by MassMutual Foundation called FutureSmart, where students take more of a personality quiz to make it really relevant and unique to themselves for goal setting. And then at the high school level, we have entire financial literacy suites building from the very basics to getting a little bit more into, if you are going on to secondary education, what does that look like. If you're going into careers, what are those different pathways that you can do?
VICKI: 04:34 So now let me ask you this. We are going to have links in the show notes, but what do teachers need to do to sign up for these courses and get their classes into these courses?
ALYSSA: 04:43 Yeah. So the first thing you want to do is just everything is on the Internet, ready, available, completely free. Teachers will want to go to ever EVERFI.com/newteacher, and from there they can go ahead and register, create their own account. And they can go through the courses and really see what the student experience is. But one thing that really makes us unique in this space is that we have local supports that are mostly former teachers to really help them develop the curriculum, find the best ones for their students, and think about this as a blended learning tool to take the conversation off of the screen and make it really relevant to the kids also.
VICKI: 05:28 Awesome. So you've got the free courses, you've got some local supports. And so our first one is the ability to make informed choices about money. And this is absolutely essential. What is the second skill?
ALYSSA: 05:39 Definitely. So I touched on it a little bit at the elementary level, but certainly important at all levels. And I love that the conversation is becoming louder about this is really that social, emotional learning piece of where students can make healthy decisions for themselves, emotionally, mentally and thinking about who they include in their lives, who's going to support that health for them and make them better people and make them better community members.
VICKI: 06:07 Wow. So that is making healthy decisions is so very important. Are there courses that help with that? Because that would be very challenging, I would think.
ALYSSA: 06:16 Definitely. And I think, too, as a former teacher, right, we always want those organic conversations to happen and those moments in the classroom where you can cite where students are making healthy decisions. But we have courses that are really supportive for students to build the vocabulary and see relatable scenarios so that they can handle maybe if difficult situation comes to be. So at the elementary level, it's really thinking about what is compassion, what is empathy, what is mindfulness, just giving kind of a feel, a vision to those words. And then as students get older, handling different conflicts, being support for maybe somebody else that's having a little bit of trouble as well. So thinking about healthy decisions for yourself and also those in your life.
VICKI: 07:06 Alyssa, do you have a specific course or project, or activity that you would recommend for the second one?
ALYSSA: 07:12 Yeah, I think if we're looking at that elementary space, one of the most unique courses that we have is the Compassion Project. This is one where it's blended learning in all the sense of the word. It has digital resources for students to go through scenarios as if they were on the playground, for example, and helping other students navigate difficult conversations or actions that may be happening. There is a lot of parent components, videos, whole groups, small group resources in there for teachers. So the Compassion Project is one that really helps your students start out strong for the school year. But it's great for those bite-sized lessons just to continue the conversation throughout the entire school year.
VICKI: 08:02 Excellent. And we will include that in the show notes, and you can adapt it to your curriculum as you wish. So we've talked about money. We've talked about social-emotional learning. What's our third?
ALYSSA: 08:12 Yeah, let's talk a little bit about the intersection of those two skills. It's something that we're always talking about in school is the ability to think about college and career, and not only knowing that it's available, but what is out there and what pathways are available to me, even if at one point I think, ah, this isn't for me or maybe this isn't something that my parents want me to do, I want to know all of my options. And one of my favorite things that I'm seeing right now is that I know when I was in school, I was really pushed to go to college. And that is still wonderful for a lot of students. But we want to know what else is available to students if they don't want to go off into a secondary career or a four-year career. So it's really that balance between giving them different options.
VICKI: 09:02 So what resources or projects or courses do you have in this area?
ALYSSA: 09:06 Yeah, so we're always looking about what careers are growing right now, what do students need to know that is going to help them into those careers that aren't even available or invented yet. That's really where we develop our leaders. But we have some courses on STEM discovery. So looking at the very basic skills of STEM, looking at a course that we are calling right now, it's brand new, going to be launching this fall, Data Science Foundations. So getting a little bit more into what it looks like at the computer science level. Also, we want students to know about the FAFSA process. Oh, my goodness. I have a new appreciation for my mother after I learned about everything that goes on during the FAFSA process. But we want students to be able to navigate what that looks like, how to start the conversation at home, and then also what loans are available, what are some of the warning signs of opening student loans. We look at the student loan debt right now, but what are some of the benefits as well that can help them pursue future opportunities.
VICKI: 10:18 Excellent. Okay, so we've got college and career and we want to emphasize both those options and kids just understanding what his options are. We've got money that we've talked about. We've got social emotional learning. So what's our fourth?
ALYSSA: 10:31 I love to think about strong communication skills with our students right now. We have had to communicate in ways that we never thought that we had to do over the last couple of months. But that doesn't mean that we stop developing what it looks like to communicate because now we have multiple ways to do it. And where do we need to make sure that students feel comfortable in different settings to communicate what is important to them? We talk about that health piece, but also at a very early age, that strong sense of literacy, also how to navigate your emotions. You mentioned that earlier about just verbalizing how you're feeling. That's a strong communication skill. And then also leadership. We want all of our students to be future leaders in anything that they do.
VICKI: 11:19 Now, this would obviously definitely be appropriate for blended learning, which would mean online resources as well as face-to-face conversations, because students need to actually be having conversations in their classroom, right? So do you have some free resources that will support teachers as they are working on those communication skills?
ALYSSA: 11:37 Yeah, so let's think about just at an early age. So I mentioned that strong sense of literacy. We have one of our courses sponsored by our partners, Truist called WORD Force. And WORD Force is for that K-2 band. And it's where students are taking a literacy adventure. They are going along with a ragtag group of characters. They're navigating space and you're building from those very phonemic blocks all the way up into comprehension. So thinking of that as at very early stage of communication. We also want to think about how students are communicating these days from everything from online to now we're going to be in person a little bit, but balancing that conversation between how much time are you spending on each one and what's appropriate for each avenue of conversation or communication as well.
VICKI: 12:35 Excellent. I like that you have all grade levels. So obviously people can go to your website, to the EVERFI site, and then search by grade level, correct?
ALYSSA: 12:42 Yes, exactly.
VICKI: 12:43 Excellent. Okay, so we have four skills. Let's get to the last two. What's number five?
ALYSSA: 12:48 Yeah. So the ability to take on new projects and problem solve is probably the best thing about working with kids, right? As a teacher, you're constantly seeing these new imaginative projects come to life. But thinking about those communication skills tied into this one too is that not everything's going to come as easy as we want it. So that problem-solving ability is so strong. Okay, if something doesn't go as I planned, where am I going to pivot now? Something breaks, where am I going to pivot? I think we learned a lot about that over the last couple of months about ourselves, about education. But just continuing to foster that in students is really important.
VICKI: 13:34 So and problem-solving is a part of computational thinking, which we know that particularly for our elementary and middle, that computational thinking needs to be there so that students will be prepared for the computer science topics that they need. Do you have any recommended courses for being able to take on new projects and problem-solve?
ALYSSA: 13:52 Yeah, so you're going to find a little bit of this in every course that we have because we constantly want to think about, okay, the world is not perfect and it's not going to all go, so what scenarios are we going to practice through our resources so that we can better implement it in real life/ But some of my favorite problem-solving courses are one that's sponsored by the NHL, which is called FutureGoals Hockey Scholar. So it's really looking at the world of sports, but how it's all relatable to everything that we do. So the students in this course will become hockey players. They will become the careers within hockey, but then they're going to be bouncing pucks off of the walls and looking at different angles. So I think that's a fun way to just look at the world in a little bit different way than we might have before and how we can solve problems with things that we're learning from math class or learning about from computer science that we may not understand immediately where it fits in.
VICKI: 14:53 Excellent. Okay, what's our sixth?
ALYSSA: 14:55 Yeah, last but not least of course is just wrapping this all up is the ability, the strength, and just the knowledge to advocate for themselves at whatever they're doing, whether that's right now here in education or maybe that's later on down into their career settings, maybe it's looking for a different position within your company, or maybe it's just looking about something that you want to start your own job as an entrepreneur, how do I go about doing that, how do I take these dreams into life, but most importantly it's just their own health. We all want our students to be happy at the end of the day. So that includes both your physical and your mental health.
VICKI: 15:42 Excellent. Any recommended courses here?
ALYSSA: 15:44 Oh, gosh. In addition to the Compassion Project that we talked about for our early elementary students where it's thinking about practices of mindfulness, breathing, compassion for yourself and others, at that middle and high school level we're so excited to see that mental health is something that is talked about more often. And to help educators, students, and families feel more comfortable, we have a course that's dedicated to mental health basics, what is mental health, what does that look like on a spectrum, how do I navigate difficult conversations, and then how do I develop those coping skills so that maybe if I'm not dealing with something now, later on down the road I have the skills to handle it.
VICKI: 16:30 Excellent. So as we finish up, let's give an overview of all the free resources K-12 educators need to know about. So we've mentioned that EVERFI's sponsoring this episode, but they have a lot of free resources. So how many courses, how many students have already taken the courses, and just a little bit more about it?
ALYSSA: 16:52 So EVERFI as a company, we really are rooted in equity. We started in that financial literacy space, but we listen to our teachers in our communities all the time and want to know what do you need so that your students can be well-rounded, healthy, and happy. Our catalog is continuing to grow everything from, again, that financial literacy space to the social-emotional, health and wellness, college and career readiness, early literacy. We have a little bit of everything for everyone that is ready and willing to teach to the whole child. Over this last school year, we've had 72,000 active courses. That's the highest we've had so far. We're excited to continue to grow from there. And over 4.8 million students have utilized our resources just this year.
VICKI: 17:47 Wow. Okay, so again, everything is free?
ALYSSA: 17:52 Everything is completely free of cost. So fun to say, but that wouldn't be available without the incredible partners that we have across North America. They are able to provide the funds so that every single school district, family, teachers, everywhere in that K-12 space can access the resources thanks to that sponsorship model.
VICKI: 18:16 Excellent. So we have a special way for you to sign up if you are interested in EVERFI. That's get.EVERFI.com/coolcat. That's G-E-T dot E-V-E-R-F-I dot com forward slash coolcat. And that way you can show where you came from as you go and access the EVERFI resources. I'm excited about this sponsor. I'm excited about all the materials that they can offer you and your class. And I hope that you'll at least take a chance to go to their website, that get.EVERFI.com/coolcat. Take a look at all the free resources and incorporate them in because there's a whole lot of flexibility where you can pull in pieces and use parts, for example, of the Compassion Project and really adapt it to your classroom. Thank you, Alyssa.
ALYSSA: 19:06 Thank you so much for having me and good luck to everybody in this new school year.
VICKI: 19:11 If you need standards-aligned, digital resources to teach real-world topics like financial literacy, communication skills, leadership, and SEL, social-emotional learning, then EVERFI has a course for you. This past school year, EVERFI had over 72,000 active courses with 4.8 million student enrollments. These digital resources are free to K-12 schools, so every teacher has access to them, no matter your classroom setting. From sports to banking, you will find a topic with a real-world angle that your students will love. So go to get.EVERFI.com/coolcat. That's G-E-T dot E-V-E-R-F-I dot com forward slash coolcat and get started today. And when you do, sign up to get a virtual swag bag full of free goodies and check out the show notes for links to the courses that we mentioned in today's show. So remember, get EVERFI, everybody.
S2: 20:31 If you enjoyed today's 10-minute teacher podcast, why not subscribe on iTunes? You can also catch up with Vicki on Twitter @coolcatteacher or level up and learn with her blogs and free resources at coolcatteacher.com. Thanks for listening.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast advertorial episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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