We’ve worked hard to make Banzai more realistic, fun, colorful, educational, feature-rich, easier to grade, longer (or shorter, if that’s your thing), while keeping the same quirky gameplay students love.
Improved Story, All-new Illustrations
Life-like receipts and interesting illustrations have always been a staple of the Banzai program. If teachers tell us anything it’s, “The kids love how colorful it is!” It’s certainly true, especially if they’re comparing it to the text books they’re used to. So in keeping with our traditions we’ve made the story — and the illustrations — even better.
Each scene is vibrantly illustrated, with big, bold, fun things from young adults’ actual lives:
The receipts also got more real (and bigger):
We’ve introduced a new narrator, Bill (you might have noticed him before in hiding):
Jars are now budgets. Don’t worry — the concept remains the same, but we’ve renamed jars to budgets. Over the years, some students have been confused by how Banzai asks users to put money into and take money out of both accounts and jars. For those of you familiar with the envelope budgeting system, this isn’t a problem, however, we’ve devised a simple way to accommodate everyone: students now take money out of accounts and then report those expenses to their budget (or budget categories).
We’ve explained financial concepts like the value of a checking account, how to read financial statements, and how to stay out of debt more clearly and deeply.
And, finally…. We can’t help but try to make it funnier:
Measuring Progress with Milestones
Traditionally, teachers have only had one tool to measure students’ progress in Banzai: a completion rate. Now, as students move through the software, Banzai quizzes them and rewards them for conquering new concepts. These milestones instill in students a sense of accomplishment as they navigate the course, and give teachers a simple way to track their progress in the teacher dashboard.
Here’s a few examples:
Bringing Vocab to the Software
To learn the basics of finance, students need to learn the basics of financial language. As you may already know, we introduced a vocabulary page to the Life Scenarios booklets two years ago. Now, vocab is a first-class citizen in the software.
In fact, we’ve even made vocab terms a fun part of the story.
As usual, we can’t help our dorky selves.
Staying In Context
We’re excited (and we hope you are too) to nail one of the most common requests we’ve heard at Banzai: “Can students go backwards?” Until now, Banzai has been linear — you only move forward. Now, however, the new course includes a look-back button giving students the ability to recall the past. Press it and a history feed will appear.
The look-back button helps students who move too fast: they can click back and re-read the text. But, more importantly, the new feature keeps their feet planted in the story — it reminds them where they came from, and how they got there.
Introducing the Banzai Teen Activity Kit
Banzai Teen is getting a new printed resource: the Activity Kit. You’ll note, for the last seven years, students could not complete Life Scenarios without a printed booklet (or PDF, which was awkward).
Recently we introduced a new booklet for elementary schools that works independent of the software. This was such a success, we decided to do the same for middle and high schools.
Banzai Teen’s Activity Kit is a replacement for printed Life Scenarios booklets. Do not worry: Life Scenarios is the same in the software.
The new printed booklet includes three activities: Interview A Pro, Crossword Puzzle, and Banzai Swap.
Interview A Pro
Faced with the task of interviewing a professional in the community — a bank or credit union representative—teens fill out short essay questions designed to get them to think about money in a way that matters to them.
For example, students may ask, “What are two financial goals teens should focus on for the future?” or they might say, “What’s your favorite thing about working in the financial industry?” This is an opportunity to teach students about money in the real world and how exciting it is to their reach goals.
Because, who doesn’t like crossword puzzles? The puzzle incorporates words from their vocab lists: What do you call money lent to you for a time? Which document shows gross and net pay? What is money removed from your account? Choose the terms and line them up.
Finally, the Activity Kit includes a trading game. In groups of seven, students trade cards blindly until one student nabs all of one good to win the round. They can play as many rounds as teachers like. The instructions also include a host of fun ideas for introducing different styles of gameplay.
Let us know if you have any questions about Banzai Teen, the newest course for middle and high school aged students; we’re eager to answer them: email@example.com.