Transform your classroom into a community via the Johnsonville Learning Network

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Anthony Johnson went from high school dropout to teacher of the year. This unusual perspective as an educator led him to create Johnsonville, a 5th grade collaborative learning community. As a TED-Ed Innovative Educator and 2017 North Carolina State Teacher of the Year Finalist, Anthony continues to innovate and share new ideas and technology with students and teachers. “My goal is to teach with enthusiasm and give my students different learning experiences from my own in grade school,” he says. Read more about Anthony’s inspiring journey to Johnsonville here.


Johnsonville is a 5th grade collaborative learning community — a real world simulation where kids come to work and play. Anthony explains: “On the first day of school I issue my fifth-graders a PASSPORT (which stands for Preparing All Students for Success by Participating in an Ongoing Real-world simulation using Technology) and say that their yearlong adventure to “Johnsonville” starts today. The school year is a simulation of adulthood where students work, create, and learn about personal finance and entrepreneurial skills. They experience real-world situations and gain insights into global affairs. Students tend to view my classroom less as a “classroom” and more of an interactive city where all projects intertwine to create an ecosystem of businesses and homes. Each student has the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, politician, banker, and more. They are given $1,000 in Johnsonville cash to begin their lives. Students must buy a house or rent an apartment, earn wages, and manage their finances. As the children buy and sell items I donate, they learn math skills along with life lessons.”


The Johnsonville Learning Network is an innovation hub designed for teachers seeking to continue their education and build on professional experience. The content is designed to help teachers engage students with innovative lessons, projects, and learning experiences. The goal is to share the magic of Johnsonville with educators who want to replicate elements of the Johnsonville model in their own schools.

Check out Anthony’s collection of resources for educators here, or get inspired by the Johnsonville summer tour here.

This article is part of the TED-Ed Innovation Project series, which highlights 25+ TED-Ed Innovation Projects designed by educators, for educators, with the support and guidance of the TED-Ed Innovative Educator program. You are welcome to share, duplicate and modify projects under this Creative Commons license to meet the needs of students and teachers. Art credit: Shutterstock.