Regardless of whether the swine flu outbreak will turn into an alarming pandemic or simply a blip on the radar of infectious diseases, it has monopolized the headlines this week, eclipsing other events, such as the 100-day mark for President Obama and the recent retirement announcement of Justice Souter.

Despite the flu frenzy, investors are breathing somewhat more easily as Wall Street closed the month of April with strong returns for each major index. For the month, the Nasdaq gained 12.3%, the S&P 500 gained 9.4% and the Dow rose 7.3%.

Consumers are also feeling a bit more optimistic as The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index increased, a surprise to economists who thought the index would hold steady. The optimism may be short-lived, however, as the release of the Federal Reserve's "stress tests" -- how big banks would fare if the economy got even worse -- has been delayed until the end of next week.

As the school year winds down along with your Stock Market Game session, now is the time to start thinking about your summer plans.

For those new to the program, we encourage you to attend the New York Stock Exchange Teacher Workshop. The NYSE is a great supporter of the SMG program and provides a valuable professional development experience. In the past, participants have had an opportunity to visit with a specialist on the NYSE's trading floor, meet with key NYSE staff members, and discuss with peers how to best integrate an understanding of the securities industry into their daily lessons.

The workshops are offered free of charge to participants every summer. Participants pay for travel and lodging. There are five five-day workshops available this summer, and we will provide registration information in next week's Week in Review.

You may also be interested in sharing the final Spring 2009 issue of In the News with your students. This issue completes this semester's series on volatility and the business cycle. In "Driving with Stocks and Bonds," we examine the usefulness of the bond market and the stock market as economic indicators. This issue and the two before it work well as introductions to both the "Volatility" and "Business Cycle" projects.

To access the current and past issues of the In the News newsletters, please click the "Publications" link in the In the Classroom section of the Teacher Support Center. Both projects are available through the "Projects" link in the same section.

For those of you who were unable to participate in our inaugural set of National Teacher Webinars during Financial Literacy month ("Volatility: Teaching About the Ups and Downs with SMG" and "What Goes Around: Teaching Business Cycles with SMG"), we have made them available here. Be sure to check them out.
This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.