Financial Education for L.I.F.E.

Influence by low math test scores and constant financial and debt problems in our community, the Hunters Lane DECA Chapter created a curriculum of financial literacy for elementary, middle and high school classes. The curriculum was called “L.I.F.E” which stands for “Learning and Implementing Financial Education”, teaching students about how to make positive spending and saving habits. During this project, the students visited 14 of Stratton Elementary School classes, 3 Neely’s Bend Middle School classes, and all Hunters Lane High School Freshman classes. Throughout this project, the students reached more than 2,000 students. All of the lessons are leading up to the culminating event “March 4 Literacy”, taking place at Hunters Lane High School, March 4, 2013. Every Hunters Lane student will attend the event and will be open to the community.   

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Due to the constant debt and financial problems in our community as well as low Math test scores, our Hunters Lane DECA chapter created a curriculum for students in elementary, middle, and high school classes. Our program is called “L.I.F.E”, which stands for “Learning and Implementing Financial Literacy “. During this project, we visited 14 Stratton Elementary classes, 3 Neely’s Bend Middle classes, and all Hunters Lane High School freshmen classes. All of these lessons taught students the significance of money and promoted positive financial decisions. Throughout this project we will have reached over 2,000 students.

At Stratton Elementary we visited classrooms from the first grade to the third grade. For our first graders we introduced the concept of money. At the beginning of our lesson, many students did not know what money was or what its values were. We showed and explained what the value of a penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, and dollar were. Then we gave the students an amount of money and together we counted out how to reach that value. For example “64 cents” you would need two quarters, a dime, and four pennies. By the end of our lesson students were able to name the value of each coin. For our second graders we reviewed the value of money and then split the class into pairs. Each pair received a candy cane with a value of money, ranging from 20 cents up to 2 dollars. Students had to count out the correct value of money and as an incentive each student got to keep their candy cane. For our third grade classes, the lessons were a little more complex.

As third grade students are already taught multiplication standards, we decided to implement this into our lesson. First we reviewed multiplication with students and we gave them visuals to help them understand and remember their multiplication a little better. We introduced the “Equals Group Model’’ and “Array Models”. Next we explained to students how multiplication can affect their spending. They were introduced to the concept of sales tax and how coupons work, which they need multiplication to determine. Finally we ended our lesson with a game called “Multiplication War”, which is played by a pair of students. The rules were as follows: a deck of cards is spilt into two halves and each half is given to a student. Each student is instructed to flip a card over and multiply the two numbers together. Whoever multiplied them first and correctly got the pair of cards. All face cards were taken out and jokers were used as a value of zero. Whoever had the most cards at the end of the game won.

For our middle and high schools classes we created a lesson plan about spending, saving, interest and banking. At Neely’s Bend we spoke with around 75 to 100 students and at Hunters Lane High School we reached all 375 freshman students. First we started our lessons with a pre-assessment; this helped us see what students already knew about these topics. Next they were given a worksheet that went along with a PowerPoint presentation. Throughout the presentation, students were advised in making smart saving, spending and banking decisions. They were exposed to true statistics about financial statistics and real financial problems that exists in today economy.  During the PowerPoint we also demonstrated and practiced with students Algebraic equations on calculating interests.  After, students were given a post- assessment to measure their growth in knowledge during the lesson.

Overall, all of our lessons were successful and we received positive feedback from teachers.  For our first and second grade students we could see the progression and teachers raved about our lessons. Teachers from our third grade classes told us that students asked to stay in from recess and play the game “Multiplication War”. In addition we also heard from a few teachers that several students were climbing the multiplication charts in the classrooms. With our middle and high school students they were very engaged and asked questions about student loans and banking. Comparing our pre- assessment to our post assessment we could tell that students had definitely obtained a growth in knowledge, with an increase from 50% to 80%.