May 08, 2023

Six Ways to Shorten the Reading Time in NGPF Lessons

One of NGPF's core curriculum design philosophies is Students at every academic level deserve interesting, rigorous work that challenges their thinking and develops their skills. So, what should you do if the articles in the NGPF Semester Course are proving too difficult or time consuming for your students? Here are some quick ways to trim the amount of time students spend reading without sacrificing the learning: 

1. Consider using the Middle School Course

NGPF has a nine-week Middle School Course, which sometimes offers similar learning objectives but at a lower level of text with fewer writing demands. There's not always a 1:1 replacement for the Semester Course lesson, but it's always worth a check. Compare these two lessons, and you'll see you could probably substitute easily: 

2. Pivot from reading to discussion

In lesson 2 of Budgeting, you'll find an article on four different types of expenses, and you'll see that the lesson guide provides a teacher tip that the article is well suited for a jigsaw. This transfers the reading load from each student reading the entire article to each student group reading a quarter of the article. But, a closer look at the article makes me think you could also provide the students with the definition of each type of expense by customizing your own copy of the Student Activity Packet, and then just have the class brainstorm ways to budget for that expense type. They'll probably be able to come up with really solid answers without even doing the reading. 

3. Teach students to skim for answers

Let's be honest -- you don't always need to read an entire article; we as adults in the workforce do it all the time, and it's an important skill for college and career readiness, too. If you want students to complete the Student Activity Packet for lesson 3, they don't need to read the entire article about apartment fees. Teach them to pre-read the questions and then skim for just those answers! 

4. Skip some readings altogether

Lesson 4 on Budgeting for Transportation includes a section about exploring alternatives to owning a car, which might be very useful if you teach in a major metro area. If your geographic location makes owning a car a necessity, just cut that resource out entirely. Similarly, Lesson 5 on Budgeting for Food includes an interesting article on why (other than the need to eat) we as humans sometimes get takeout or restaurant food when we could just eat our own groceries. It would make a great "bonus point" opportunity or extra resource if the lesson runs short, but otherwise you could just skip that article if you're short on time. It's not essential learning. 

5. Use ChatGPT (or similar) to simplify the text

Even if student use of ChatGPT is banned at your school, my colleague Dave did a great blog post on how teachers can use AI to support diverse learners. Read more about chunking or re-leveling texts here. This strategy would work well for Budgeting Lesson 6, with this dense article on strategies for budgeting as a gig worker

6. Don't forget the dictionary

NGPF offers a Personal Finance Dictionary with definitions in both English and Spanish, which won't necessarily cut down on the amount of time it takes students to read articles but may help students with their reading comprehension. 

About the Author

Jessica Endlich

When I started working at Next Gen Personal Finance, it's as though my undergraduate degree in finance, followed by ten years as an educator in an NYC public high school, suddenly all made sense.

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