For students, it’s natural to wonder when you might ever need to know what an iambic pentameter is or the exact date of the Louisiana Purchase. So businesses and teachers have teamed up to make some of the lessons taught in public schools more meaningful.

Business leaders from across the state have joined together with teachers and educational experts to develop a curriculum that adds a dose of real world business to the reading, writing and arithmetic lessons middle school students are taught now. The lesson plans, called Teaching Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs Today, were developed under the auspices of the NJ PRO Foundation Inc., the research affiliate of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), and will be showing up in classrooms this fall.

The curriculum addresses aspects of small business management and entrepreneurship-business planning, finance, marketing, regulation, and communication. The lessons are designed to combine material required by the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, which outlines what all students must be taught, with the business skills students will need in real work settings. The project has been endorsed by the NJ Department of Education, the New Jersey Education Association, as well as numerous corporations, including AT&T and PSE&G.

“This curriculum is not intended to replace the material middle school students learn now, but to teach it in a way that has a more meaningful context,” said NJBIA president Philip Kirschner in a prepared statement.

Lesson plans cover topics like branding and graphic design in marketing; the history of entrepreneurship and its function in society; what communication skills employers look for when hiring a new employee; how to formulate a budget for a start-up business; the process of creating a marketable invention and bringing it to market; and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

In the technology curriculum students are asked to develop and design a new product. Working in small groups, the students will list problems they could solve with inventions, develop a solution to one of those problems, create patent drawings for their ideas, and develop business plans for bringing their new product to market.

Each lesson plan takes approximately five class periods, assuming a 45-minute class schedule. The plans include plenty of hands-on activities and allow for maximum flexibility for implementation in middle schools throughout New Jersey.

Teachers will be able to access the lessons free of charge at www.njprofoundation.org. Each lesson plan contains a lesson overview, specific learning objectives, the resources and materials needed to deliver the lesson effectively, a list of new business vocabulary words, the Core Curriculum Content Standards addressed, student activity sheets, and related career information. Teachers could also use one of several New Jersey Business vignettes, which are examples of real businesses and how education is important to them.

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