Apr 17, 2023

5 New Ways To Use Projects With Your Students

Yes, projects work great as a more open-ended summative assessment, but why limit yourself? Read on for some ideas on other ways to use projects and to see what ready-made projects NGPF has to offer!

0. Summative Assessments

Ok, I know that we're talking about NEW ways, but NGPF projects really are a great tool to use as a summative assessment. With ready-made options in almost every unit, NGPF projects help to cement core learnings while offering enough flexibility that students can work at their own pace and put the pieces together. An example of a very straightforward project from the Budgeting unit: PROJECT: Budgeting for Your Credit Card Payments. You can grade the final product, create graded checkpoints along the way, or whatever fits your classroom structure. Projects are a great way to mix up assessment and offer an opportunity for a little more creativity in the classroom.

1. Expand a Popular Activity

Students and teachers alike love PLAY: The Bean Game. Try following up the Bean Game's lesson on budgeting with a project assignment of creating their own budget template and method that they will then use to track expenses for a month. Or have students create realistic budget for your area and then have them modify it for the median wage and then modify it for those at the poverty line in your areas and pair with a discussion of barriers to saving and building wealth.


2. Combine Your Favorite Activities

 Nothing builds excitement like NGPF Arcade games. Start with all-time favorite INTERACTIVE: Invest with STAX!. Capitalize on the excitement around investing that comes from playing STAX, and combine with MOVE: Let's Make a Mutual Fund and/or ANALYZE: Investing for Retirement to prepare students to be lifelong investors.


3. Let the Project Direct Your Unit

Projects are great because students are able to see how different aspects of financial literacy fit together with one another. But sometimes you just can't squeeze everything into the time between instruction and assessment. Instead, why not try putting the project first and letting it guide your instruction? Try breaking the project components down and tailoring instruction to address the knowledge and skills necessary to complete each phase of the project along the way. For example, you could break down PROJECT: Do-It-Yourself Debt Relief in the following way:

  • Do a vocabulary review or scavenger hunt and then have students complete "Part I: Review Madison’s Profile"
  • Evaluate auto loan facts a figures, then have students give an analysis of Madison's car loan choice and how it stacks up against local deals
  • Teach on student loans, and then have students calculate how much Madison would pay on a different repayment plan, or how much she would save by paying them off early
  • After learning about the Schumer Box and what to look for on a credit card, have students compare Madison's two cards and her spending habits and evaluate which one is the better deal
  • Explore different debt relief strategies and then have students complete Parts III and IV to prepare a debt-relief plan

4. Build Your Own Project

Five useful activity types that you'll find throughout NGPF's curriculum fit really well together as sort of a DIY project building blocks: RESEARCH, ANALYZE, COMPARE, CALCULATE, and CREATE. These activity types make for very natural project steps that come pre-chunked into manageable segments. For example, form a project by taking elements from the following activities in the Types of Credit Unit:


5. Go For a Full Project-Based Learning (PBL) Unit

Similar to Option 1 above, Project-Based Learning inverts the learning dynamic, but even more strongly puts the student in the driver's seat as to how to direct their learning. While still aligned to core standards, PBL is driven by student inquiry and is designed to offer maximum options for creativity and inspire creative problem-solving in students. An example from MyPBLWorks, I Auto Save Some Money, has the driving question (no pun intended): How do I know if a car is a good deal? You could use this question to work your way through NGPF's NEW Buying a Car mini-unit.

Have students learn about selecting a car as they plan their own vehicle recommendations for their friend/family/client. Then, have them put together a cost list for all the components of purchasing a car and revise it after going through the lesson on car ownership costs. Have them weigh the pros and cons of new vs. used and buying vs. leasing, both full lessons in the mini-unit. And finish off with a full car recommendation pitch to tie it all together. NGPF has many projects and activities you could use as PBL learning events. If you want to try it, start small and don't worry about expectations.


However you want to implement projects in your classroom, NGPF has you covered with ready-made projects, dynamic activities, and insightful curriculum lessons to build up your students' content knowledge! We hope these ideas helped get your creative juices flowing and you're ready to tackle your next personal finance project with your students!

~The NGPF Curriculum Team


Want to find great project ideas or share one of your own? FinLit Fanatics is an amazing community of educators always ready to share their own ideas or celebrate yours. Check it out, if you haven't already!




About the Author

Dan Rolando

Always enamored with learning, Dan’s parents affectionately nicknamed him “The Sponge” as a kid. After earning his Engineering Master’s from NC State University followed by six years of teaching, Dan joins NGPF to pursue his passion of inspiring financial capability in anyone who will listen. Having navigated seven years of higher education debt-free through scholarships, work, creative budgeting, and a whole lot of help, he recognizes the freedom that comes from financial independence and hopes to share that gift with others. In the (rare) times he’s not discussing finance, Dan enjoys running, reading, playing board games, spending time with his daughter, and being sous chef for his wife.

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