The following blog post was written by Ruby Hamm and Dara MacKay, faculty members at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement. This story is a continuation of our blog series on the Centre's Youth in Transition (YiT) program.
Poster boards filled with information
Wide smiles and shy grins
Curious questioners and enthusiastic answerers
A room buzzing with the sound of voices sharing knowledge
These were the sights and sounds of the Youth in Transition Financial Literacy Fair.
It was an opportunity for our learners to share what they had learned during the term about being financially smart as they looked at their present position and thought about their futures. It was a project that has been used in the program to enable our learners to be more successful as they live and work in Canada.
Because we wanted the learners to realize their need for financial literacy, we began by having the learners do an online needs assessment put out by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
Once the learners recognized that they all had areas of learning to explore when it came to finances, we introduced the project. We shared with them that they would have the opportunity to learn about being financially wise here in Canada. They were also told how they would be able to share what they learned with others.
The learners then brainstormed topic ideas. The topics were added to the list of topics already created by the instructors, and all of the topics were typed up for learners to choose from.
Teams of three were created, and each team was able to choose a topic. No teams were allowed to choose the same topic. Once topics were chosen, the learners brainstormed guiding questions to help focus their research. They used many different websites as part of their research, especially government and bank sites. The groups had to work together to decide which items were relevant.
Learners becoming experts
What we found during the research process is that learners became ‘experts’ about their topics. They all went into the process knowing relatively little about what they were studying. Through the research they learned about many aspects of financial literacy including debt, credit, savings, banking and low-income help in Calgary. They asked questions. They discovered answers. One group even interviewed an entrepreneur to gain a deeper understanding of their topic of being an entrepreneur in Canada.
After the research, the groups had to decide what information was relevant to share with their peers. They created and organized print materials to put onto a trifold and made a handout that visitors could take with them. We sent out invitations to other learners in the college to come and learn what our students could now teach them. Teaching is an amazing way to deepen understanding, and this was evident in their presentations.
The learners spent a good deal of time creating their trifolds, and then rehearsing their presentations. They presented to the class and teachers on the first day, and then presented fair-style the following day to all the invited learners. Doing this project as a fair provided the learners with a huge amount of time to use their speaking skills in an authentic way. They presented their information to small groups of people, then answered questions and had subsequent conversations. Then they did it all over again.
By the end of the day, they really were experts. They were proud of what they had done, and we were proud of them.