Friday, July 14, 2017

Adventures in budgeting with students

As educators, we are always looking for new and different ways to teach our students the skills they need and will need once they reach "the real world." As curricula continue to develop to make things such as math more real world applicable, we can continue to build our ideas. We do hear when people say things such as, "will you teach real skills such as creating a budget and balancing a checkbook?"

Let's Invest!

One lesson I developed for the 2016-17 school year included math skills from multiple chapters from within our chosen curriculum and gave students a chance to apply those skills. I assigned my Pre-Algebra students an investment project.

The first piece of the project included researching the Down Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, and the S&P 500. I created a Google Doc in Google Classroom for the students to see the steps outlined for them. You can see that here. Once they built a foundational understanding of the markets, students began working with their imagined $10,000 budget. They needed to research different stocks and then determine which ones they would select to invest in and then follow them for two weeks. Students needed to keep documentation in a Google Sheet. I created a bare bones Google Sheet that I also attached to the assignment in Classroom. The idea was that this Sheet would give them a jumping off point, but they would need to fill in blanks and add additional fields to complete the expected task. You can take a look at this here. Next, students were to write a summary sharing what they learned about the stock markets, what factors seem to impact changes in stock prices, and give a general overview of their learning. The last step included creating a presentation in Google Slides to show how their stocks performed. They then presented these in class, in a sort of meeting of investors. This final step (the actual presentation) is the step I hope to develop more for the year ahead. I hope for it to have more of a Wall Street feel rather than "just another classroom presentation" feel.

The majority of the class met my expectations and I was pleased with their ability to look at interest rates, fluctuation in stock prices, and the ability to calculate the rates of change for their investments. While they worked on their investment projects, we covered additional material, specifically percentages. For example, we calculated tips.

The Investment Project can be developed differently, adapted, and changed to fit the needs of different classes, different students, and different circumstances. I believe firmly in constantly updating and improving lessons and projects, just as I do for my PD presentations.

All Aboard!

As I wrote about yesterday, we can teach some very important life skills to students by taking them out and introducing them to things such as public transportation. What if we took it a step further? We can also build budgeting skills into a transportation trip or create an "imagined" vacation opportunity to also flex their budgeting muscle.

Option 1

Adapt the tools from the above Investment Project: Google Doc, Sheet, and Slides. Outline for students what types of public transportation they will be using. Give them the websites to get fare information from those sites. Ask the students to create a budget for the trip. They will look up fares for the different modes of transportation, as well as budgeting for activities around the use of these modes of transportation. Perhaps they want to go to a baseball game, a play, or an amusement park. Perhaps they will make it a shopping day or keep it simple with lunch out. Students will need to come up with how much each person will need to budget for the trip and justify the expected costs. Along with this, they can also look up time tables and create a time budget. What time will they leave? What time will they return? How much time do they have to get from the train to the subway, for example?

Option 2

Again, adapt the tools from the above Investment Project: Google Doc, Sheet, and Slides. Give students a budget: $500, $1000, $2000, or whatever seems reasonable for your expectations for the assignment. For this vacation budget, they will need to look at planes, trains, and automobiles. Again, they will look at fares and schedules/time tables.. They will design the vacation and the related budget, including activities for the trip and duration of the trip. How many people will go on this trip? If the budget for one person or for their entire family? Students can then use Google Slides to present their vacation plan in a sort of travel agent role. Once all vacations have been presented in the class, students can complete a Google Form sharing which vacation they would choose and why. Budgets will be submitted for review, as well. This combines a budget assignment with a travel project I had students do in seventh grade science a few years ago. Be a travel agent and sell your classmates on your proposed trip while also working on developing skills in budgeting.

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