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This school is using ‘Shark Tank’ to teach research and presentation skills

By Trent Moore, The Cullman Times, Ala.
August 25th, 2015

TV game show format comes to the classroom

shark-tankTeachers at Holly Pond Middle School are turning to a popular reality TV show as inspiration to get students interested in flexing their research and presentation skills.

The school used public funding to add an eLearning library environment for students this year. Principal Chuck Gambrill and teacher April Dean worked throughout the summer to convert an old classroom into a collaborative learning environment, and they have added a suite of Samsung Galaxy tablets and iPads allowing students to download books from a virtual library.

Aside from the obvious benefits of offering a wide array of reading materials, school officials say the devices have also created a fresh opportunity to teach students how to research, create and apply their knowledge via the internet and Google applications.

To that end, the school is applying a format based on the popular TV series “Shark Tank,” which tasks aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their business proposals to a panel of “shark” investors. Successful pitches require rock solid research and the ability to communicate an idea clearly and successfully — and those are the exact skills Gambrill and Dean hope to instill in these students.

The project sees students research and develop a mock business plan in hopes of winning over an “investor.” Gambrill said he believes the reality TV idea is a relatable, tangible way to both engage students and teach them the tangible benefits of the skills they’ll be using.

“By using the Shark Tank idea we will be teaching our students business skills, presentation skills, and organizational skills,” he said in a prepared statement.

Students are broken down into small groups and assigned a popular current product. From there, they’re asked to research the product, create a presentation and then deliver the presentation to the class.

The groups will present to their individual classes with the winners, and the winners will advance to a final round in February.

“Myself and April are excited to see the positive reaction by the students about this learning experience.” Gambrill said in a prepared statement. “Cullman County Schools is proud to be leveraging technology and teacher creativity to deliver well-educated, informed and motivated students to the next level.”

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