Creating A Classroom Marketplace

There’s no better time to prep for next fall than during the summer. And it’s summer! There’s enough time left to hatch a radical plan.

Let’s take a look at developing an online “Classroom Marketplace” for your students. Unlike other marketplaces, the Classroom Marketplace is where your students can “sell” and “shop” for ideas and artifacts to use in their project-based learning assignments.

As educators, we are used to marketplaces like the iTunes store or the Edmodo app store or the numerous lesson plan exchanges like those on this list. Similarly, we have some skills that we’re good at, but other things we need to outsource. We shop for everything from apps to ideas. We have assembled digital toolkits for our classrooms, filled with content, assessments, and applications from a multitude of providers. Others of us are the creators who add lesson plans, content, assessments, and even apps to the cloud where we share or sell them to others.

That’s the world we work in, that’s the future world, and that’s a world that we can set up for our students right in our own classrooms, too.

A marketplace gets artifacts . . . “things” . . . into the hands of people who need them and rewards the people who create them. The Classroom Marketplace works the same way, and it prepares students to reap the benefits of real-world marketplaces. The internet allows people to profit from anything they’re good at. The modern entrepreneur has figured that out. The internet has produced many wealthy teens, and that’s an opportunity that must be democratized.

When students work on digital projects (like a PowerPoint, wiki, or Glogster), they create digital artifacts that they put into the project. These artifacts could be images, video clips, audio clips, text content, and so on. The Classroom Marketplace lets them “sell” some of those artifacts to other students who are working on the same project. When a project is completed using the Classroom Marketplace, students will have created 80-90% of the project on their own, and the remaining 10-20% they will have “purchased” from the marketplace. That’s on par with the help that those successful teen entrepreneurs had when they were launching their internet ventures.

Creating Your Classroom Marketplace

As students work on their projects, they will select some of the artifacts that they created and add them to the Classroom Marketplace. Students may even create certain items specifically for the marketplace that they don’t plan on using in their own projects.

The Classroom Marketplace is easy to set up. You will basically need four pieces to create your marketplace structure.

  • Student Portfolio: Students will need a digital portfolio to market the artifacts that they create.
  • Marketplace Listing: Students will need a way to “list” their artifacts in the marketplace.
  • Currency: You will need a marketplace currency. This lets students buy and sell and reap the marketplace rewards.
  • Receipt System: You will need a receipt system to track marketplace purchases. This lets students protect their creations and learn to be more responsible digital citizens.

Portfolio Solutions

If your school doesn’t have access to a student portfolio system like Digication (free to Google App schools), then students can create portfolios on a free sites like Weebly (tutorials here) or Tumblr (tutorials here). As students create their digital artifacts, they simply need to upload them into their portfolios. They will also need to show a list price for the artifact. (More on that in a minute.) Each artifact will need its own URL so that it can be listed in the classroom marketplace. The portfolio itself is a worthy stand-alone feature of the marketplace that allows students to showcase their work. Here’s a student’s portfolio from Digication:



The Marketplace and Marketplace Listings

A Google form and spreadsheet will function as your actual marketplace. The form provides a way for students to list their artifacts in the marketplace, and the spreadsheet is where students find the artifacts they they want to buy for their final projects.

I’ve created a sample marketplace for students who are working on a Romeo and Juliet project. At the end of this project, students will present a PowerPoint-type presentation, so students will create artifacts that can be used in that type of presentation. A Google form like this one easily lets students “list” their artifacts in the marketplace.



Give students access to view (not edit) the Google spreadsheet where the form data is stored. Students will have this view of the marketplace:



Student can sort the spreadsheet by media type or by the seller. Once students discover the portfolio of others, they can shop right from the student’s portfolio.

Contributing to the Marketplace

Have students contribute at least THREE artifacts to the marketplace. This can be a separate grade from the overall project, but it’s an essential part of the process. Students should work on marketplace contributions as they work on their own project. Savvy producers will contribute many more than three artifacts.

Marketplace artifacts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Video Clips – created by the students.
  • Images – created by the students.
  • Powerpoint Slides – Slides should contain an image plus text content.  Images or videos that were discovered on the internet (not created by students) MUST show proper attribution. Students who sell a PowerPoint slide that uses images or video from the internet will have to “forfeit” some of their selling price to “pay” the original creators (Ouch! Just like real life.) Students should sell just single slides, not entire sets of slides. Only Powerpoint-type slides can have images and videos from the internet. Those cannot be sold directly.
  • Quotations – Quotes from the play or about the play that are stylistic done (i.e. cool LOOKING quotations like this).
  • Text Content – any text created for the different sections of the project. Students should sell a paragraph at a time, not entire sections.
  • Audio Clips – instead of text, narrate the content in an audio clip.
  • Music – created by the students (use any of the music creation apps like Loopy HD on iTunes).
  • Skills from Other Classes – (other than video, image, and audio creation) translations into other languages, mathematical analysis, historical background.

Marketplace Currency

Teachers should grade marketplace contributions, and students should be rewarded with a currency that allows them to “buy” artifacts from others in the marketplace. One type of currency can be time, time that students can use at a later date in class to explore content of their choosing or to “game” if your classroom has been gamified. Currency should be awarded in chunks of 1, 5, and 10 minutes of  time. Likewise, students use the “time” currency that they’ve been awarded to buy artifacts from other students. When students sell artifacts, they collect time currency. Teachers might even start students with a small sum of currency, similar to how Edmodo gave $50 credit in their app store for completing a short survey.

Alternatively, currency can be established simply as marketplace “money” . . . money that’s only good in the marketplace. After the project is complete, that currency can be used to “purchase” extra credit points, homework passes, to time in class to be used as the redeemer wishes.


Be sure students keep a receipt of their Classroom Marketplace transactions. You can print receipts that you create or you can use another Google form like this one:



This would be a good way to track all transactions. If an artifact from the marketplace appears in a students presentation, then there better be a receipt for it!



Sample Marketplace Lesson

Let’s use a project-based lesson for “Romeo and Juliet” as a sample project for the Classroom Marketplace. This PBL includes ten sections that students have to complete:

  • Create a summary and analysis for each of the five acts. (5)

  • Create a character analysis for Romeo, Juliet, and two other characters of your choosing. (4)

  • Include an analysis for the play that explores the theme or one of play’s central questions. (1).

The final product must be in presentation format. Students will use a presentation app like PowerPoint, Slideshare, Prezi, Glogster, Google Presentation, etc. Each section must include a text explanation plus one or more of the following:

  • An Image

  • A Video Clip

  • An Audio Narration

  • Art

Students must use at least TWO artifacts from the Classroom Marketplace in their project. Put a maximum limit, as well. The idea is for students to still do the majority of the creation for their project. It’s still their project. They are just getting an assist from the marketplace. Students are not graded on the content of the marketplace artifacts that they use. (It might be inferior to what they would create on their own!) They will just be graded for acquiring the artifacts and completing the transaction properly. Every student will buy from the marketplace, but some students may not sell in the marketplace. Although, with some strategy, you can ensure that everyone is a seller, too. You might limit how many times an artifact can be sold. That will force users to shop around.

Artifacts chosen from the marketplace MUST be properly sourced (who they purchased it from) in their final presentation. Students need to be sure to keep their receipts!

Students must also submit a minimum of three artifacts to the marketplace. This can be for a grade separate from the overall project grade.

In the final presentation stage, students should establish a practice of protecting their content. They need to pay attention to the presenters! Did they see any unauthorized uses of their content? They should also take pride every time that a classmate legitimately used their artifacts. Nothing is more satisfying than being “marketplace worthy.”

Benefits of the Classroom Marketplace

The Classroom Marketplace allows for group work, but without the group. It draws on the strength of the crowd and rewards the individual  It helps students realize that their talents can be monetized, and the seeds of entrepreneurship can be planted.

Marketplace Lessons

Skills are rewarded.

The crowd has solutions.

If you don’t have a skill, you must actually work harder for less benefits.

Specialization is rewarded.

Networking can lead to better outcomes.

Everyone has skills, and they need to be marketed.

Supply-and-demand is a universal truth.

Checking Back

Stay tuned next fall. My spouse launches a Classroom Marketplace in her chemistry class in August. I’ll report out how it goes. If you launch one yourself, I would love to hear the results. If you’re really ambitious, you might open up your Classroom Marketplace to another school. With the right collaboration and cooperation, it would be very interesting.

Adam Renfro

Adam was a classroom English teacher for ten years and began teaching online in 1998. He now works for the North Carolina Virtual Public School, the 2nd largest virtual school in the nation. Adam has blogged for Getting Smart since September of 2011.

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