The SPENT Virtual Poverty Simulation is a tool for engaging students in issues related to poverty and equity in the United States. Centered around the interactive online simulation SPENT (developed by McKinney ad agency for Urban Ministries of Durham), the CEL offers ready-made lesson plans and scripted presentations for both curricular and co-curricular delivery. Faculty and staff are encouraged to utilize some or all of the available resources and adapt them to meet their specific needs.
SPENT Lesson Plan
The SPENT Lesson Plan includes two parts designed to sandwich students’ SPENT experience. Part 1 provides an introduction to poverty concepts and context for the costs associated with household budgets. Part 2 provides an opportunity for students to engage in structured critical reflection about their SPENT experiences and begin to explore the underlying policy issues that shape and perpetuate American poverty. Each lesson plan includes recommended time allotments that can be adjusted to fit various class times.
The SPENT Activity will last for approximately 60-90 minutes depending on how much time the presenter wants to spend on discussion. The presentation can be delivered in person or virtually, but we recommend that it be delivered at a synchronous meeting if delivered virtually.
This collection of resources to learn about poverty includes articles, data sets, videos, and podcasts designed to be accessible in tone, design, and content to a variety of different audiences. Each item listed includes an estimated reading/watching/listening time, a hyperlink to the source, and a brief annotation. Source organizations range from popular news media to advocacy organizations.
The resources are grouped into the following three categories:
The CEL offers a variety of modules to support the professional development of student tutors working with kids. The modules are designed to be effective for both self-guided training and delivery by a facilitator in a group setting. Although designed for students working with elementary-aged children in reading, the topics and skills are transferrable to a variety of settings that require engaging with children. Modules are available on the website as PDFs, but they are also available as Canvas modules that can be imported into a Canvas course for independent learning. To access the Canvas modules, contact Hannah Nabi.
Confidence and Self-Esteem: Praising Effort Over Outcome to Build Positive Self-Image
This 45-minute module introduces students to the evidence-based strategy of praising effort over outcome when working with children. Students gain skills to help them encourage confidence and build positive self-esteem. Click here to download.
Engaging Students in Tutoring: Tips and Strategies for Online Environments
This 60-minute module provides students with concrete examples of effective methods of engaging children in virtual learning. The strategies are effective for in-person tutoring as well. Click here to download.
Implicit Bias: An Introductory Training
This 90-minute module defines implicit bias, introduces students to the role implicit bias plays in American education, and encourages self-reflection as students consider their role in challenging and reinforcing biases in their roles as tutors. Click here to download.
Mindfulness: An Effective Tool to Help Kids Learn Self-Regulation
This 60-minute module introduces students to the role of mindfulness in supporting learning. Students learn how to implement mindfulness practices that benefit both their students and themselves. Click here to download.
Positive Self-Talk: Countering Negative Thoughts and Language
In this 45-minute module, students learn practical, effective strategies for supporting children who express negative thoughts about their own abilities. This is the most-requested topic among Mercer’s work-study tutors. Click here to download.
Virtual Tutoring Environments: What Does Virtual Tutoring Look Like?
This 60-minute module is designed for first-time virtual tutors and presents students with examples of different types of virtual tutoring environments and interactions as well as preparation tips to make a virtual tutoring session effective and comfortable. Click here to download.
In collaboration with Professor Frani Rollins in the Department of Communication Studies and Theatre, we created a series of tutorial videos to support high quality engagement between Mercer students participating in literacy initiatives and the children they support. These videos are appropriate resources for students engaging in virtual tutoring or the recorded read aloud project.
On Creating Inclusive Classrooms
In part one of this five-part series on inclusive teaching practices, Dr. Laura Simon, assistant professor of sociology in Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Vicki Luther, associate professor in Mercer’s Tift College of Education, discuss the importance of inclusive teaching practices in creating welcoming environments that foster student engagement with the course material.
In this second installment of the five-part series on inclusive teaching practices, Dr. Simon and Dr. Luther from Mercer University explain the importance of acknowledging major cultural events that may impact students’ sense of well-being, such as the nationwide protests against police brutality in response to the police-perpetrated murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Simon and Dr. Luther emphasize the difference between acknowledging difficulties and leading discussion about injustice with students and recommend ways faculty can assess their own readiness to address these topics with students without causing harm.
In this third installment of the five-part series on inclusive teaching practices, Dr. Simon and Dr. Luther from Mercer University outline the seven forms of bias and provide recommendations for inclusive teaching practices that faculty can adopt in their classrooms. These strategies are accessible to faculty who have limited flexibility in content or preparation time and can still yield high impact on student engagement with the course.
In part four of the five-part series on inclusive teaching practices, Dr. Simon and Dr. Luther from Mercer University issue a challenge to faculty to engage in critical reflection and self-assessment about unconscious bias in their courses and offer examples of strategies faculty can use in a variety of disciplines, including STEM classes, to expand inclusion in their courses.
In this final installment in the five-part series on inclusive teaching practices, Dr. Simon and Dr. Luther from Mercer University encourage faculty to acknowledge the key insights that students have into their teaching practices and, despite the difficulty of accepting critical feedback, remain open to considering alternative perspectives as they develop their courses.
In part one of this three-part series, Dr. Amy Nichols-Belo from Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides an overview of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). She defines human subjects research and outlines the types of projects that should be submitted to an IRB for approval, explains the three different types of review under IRB, and addresses the misconception that “doing” the IRB is discipline-related rather than project-specific.
In part two of this three-part series, Dr. Amy Nichols-Belo from Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences explains how faculty can teach their students about research ethics and introduce them to the IRB process. She addresses confusion about what types of student class projects may need IRB approval, explains how faculty engaging in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) should proceed with IRB, and expands the conversation to include considerations for community-based research.
In part three of this three-part series, Dr. Amy Nichols-Belo from Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides a tutorial on the IRB process at Mercer University. She shows viewers how to navigate the IRB website, identify the appropriate forms, and utilize available templates. She also explains each section of the IRB application and how to fill out the application form.