Online Simulation Helps Students Empathize with the Working Poor

Screenshot of SpentIf your students come from stable economic backgrounds, they might find it difficult to understand the plight of the poor. Often, students have a stereotypical view of those in poverty and fail to grasp just how difficult it is to live with a low income. Urban Ministries of Durham has created SPENT, an online simulation in which participants try to survive a month without going broke. After applying for a job, they must deal with health issues, cranky landlords, grocery bills, and more. At every step, pop-up circles inform you about how these different challenges take their toll on the working poor in America.

Though it has its shortcomings (being locked into only a few choices, for example), overall it’s an effective learning tool. I’d estimate it would be appropriate for students in grades 5-12.

Give it a try and let me know if you think it would be worth using in your classroom. And here’s a hint before you begin: brush up on your typing skills.

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger, founder and editor of Catholic School Chronicle, is an award-winning Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He is a deacon for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

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