The Micro Business Project

As the semester comes to a close, I recently completed one of my favorite projects I do for my Business Basics class. I have students create their own micro business and this ranges from creating their own phone case company to yes, a Taco Truck. I began this last year and it has turned into a favorite for both my students and myself and really brings the semester for to come circle on what they have learned over the semester. So, how does this class project work? Read on.

Brainstorming

I’ve done this a few ways and you can choose how you do it depending on your classroom.

Venn Diagram Hula Hoop

The first semester I did this, I had students write what businesses they were interested in on post-it notes and then stick them to my whiteboard where I had drawn a Venn Diagram. I had them stick under two circles: Mobile Business, Standard Business or of course in-between. I would then take students and group them according to their interests. I’m going back to something similar to this next year.

Google Form

The past year I have used Google Form to gather information on what Students have a Business Interest or Passion for. I simply set up:

  • Name and Email (Quiz Format)
  • What they have an interest in
  • How they work in a group
  • What is there favorite creativity tool we have used this semester

After I gather student information, I create a spreadsheet and then using conditional formatting to set up students with their groups. The biggest reason I ask about how they work in groups and their favorite creativity tool we have used is because like many teachers. I have had groups where on one or two people do all the work or where someone takes over the group or they all get off task and are rushing in the last day before presentation. While I still have not found the magic wand in a close to perfect formula. This has worked very well, I have problems now and again where someone wants the group to do their work or the day before presentations an argument happens and they want to drop out. I’ve learned that while I want students to be leaders and to figure out their own problems in their company, just like a real business, I still have to step in as the “CEO” or send in my “VP of Human Resources” and talk with groups and students. The great news is, doing this, I have yet to have one group not complete their project and presentations.

Presentation Template

With Google Classroom, I share a Google Slides Template of what the basic should look like. I have groups break down the rolls of who should do what in their company. They also have to create: Company Logo, What they do, Advertisement (they can do a video or commercial), and of course… Everyone needs to talk. Now, many ask me what I do about students with IEPs or special needs who can’t really do full speeches in front of others or at all. Well, one of the reasons I use a type of presentation tool like Google Slides, Prezi or even Pear Deck. They not only become the presentation manager, they have to give a brief introduction with each other and learn hand gestures when they have to advance the next slide or piece. Not only has this been a great for students who can’t present like their peers, it has also had many of my students step away from the computer and started presenting in a more confident fashion, which has been very empowering to my students.

There’s an App for that

Something I did different this year was I wanted each group to create an App for their business. In this day and age of smart devices from phones to watches to even headphones. Simple Business Apps are almost essential to businesses, especially for ones that have to stay mobile like a bakery, landscaping or food truck. This year I had groups have to create an App for their Business using Google Slides. It was such an engagement for my students this year. I used the template by Jen Giffen. We had a previous class where we created a basic App for our classroom and I posted Jen’s walk through on Google Classroom in case my students forgot a step along the way.

Now, this this was the first year we were doing this, I was a bit more lenient on their App development, but still gave them some main ground rules: all links must work, it must be engaging and it must have a purpose to your business. I did have a few groups that either made their app just a giant PDF of their business or forgot a link or two. Reasons, why you have to give them time to “debug” their App, but it was a learning experience for them. Even after the presentations and seeing their App was missing things, I had all groups go back and fix their Apps. They really took ownership and learned from their FAIL.

Qball for the Win

One of my biggest problems doing this project the past two years was students being heard. I have a large room and even my loudest students sometimes can’t project their voice out. This year, my class was at max capacity so sound disappeared in a cloud of students. I tried a karaoke mic I purchased and many times it would not pair to my computer and the main speaker was not the loudest at times. Enter, the Qball, this has just been an amazing fixture in my classroom. Students love the microphone foam ball that they can pass to each other or during Q & A time toss it out to their classmates and answer questions and they are HEARD. This has been such a great piece for student voice and for presentations. If you don’t have a Qball in your classroom, seriously look at getting one. They are amazing! So much my students are asking if we are getting any more in the future. I’m hoping to make that a reality in the near future.

Reflection on Flipgrid

After all presentations are over, I have all groups reflect on Flipgrid. I ask them simple questions they have to reflect on.

  • What do you believe your business did well?
  • What did your business need to improve on?
  • What was everyone’s personal experience with the project?
  • Anything you believe we should add to the project next semester?

I have this open so other groups can respond or add to their responses, it’s been very transformational for students to have this reflection and has added to us improving the project each semester. The use of Google Slides to Build an App or getting a better mic with Qball grew out of these reflections. Same with our template as many students didn’t know how to put theirs together in an orderly piece even if they could collaboratively on the presentation. If you are not using Flipgrid in your classroom, you really should considering adding it to your toolbox.

Creating a Micro Business Project for your classroom can be very engaging and empowering for your students. I even have a simple rubric for assessment here, you can copy and tailor it to your liking. Give it a try today.

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