Jan 15, 2023

Math Monday: How to Trim the Financial Algebra Course for Shorter Time Frames

NGPF's Financial Algebra course abounds with interactive activities and deep-diving lessons! If you're looking to fit it into an expedited timeline, here's your guide. Check out these five suggestions for how to tailor the course down.

Suggestion 1: Just the Basics

If you need a significantly shorter option, we recommend focusing on the most immediately useful topics for young people. You can skip units that cover more advanced skills or topics that students won’t need until later in life.

You could skip:

  • Unit 1: Taxes & Fundamentals of Algebra
  • Unit 4: Budgeting & Systems of Inequalities
  • Unit 6: Investing Strategies & Exponential Functions
  • Unit 10: Insurance & Probability

Your resulting sequence would be:

  • Unit 2: Checking & Linear Equations
  • Unit 3: Saving & Systems of Equations
  • Unit 5: Investing & Exponential Functions
  • Unit 7: Types of Credit & Modeling Functions
  • Unit 8: Managing Credit & Fundamentals of Statistics
  • Unit 9: Paying For College & Statistical Analysis - if you know students will learn this content elsewhere, you could skip this unit as well. 


Suggestion 2: A little less math

Make a few units personal-finance-only if you’re looking to go a little lighter on the math. 

You could skip the math lessons for the following units. This would narrow the course focus by cutting out math content that is not typically included in Algebra 1. 

  • Unit 1: Taxes & Fundamentals of Algebra -  the math for this unit is likely familiar to students, as it is typically covered in middle school.
  • Unit 4: Budgeting & Systems of Inequalities - the math for this unit is linear equalities, which may not need to be highlighted for some courses.
  • Unit 9: Paying For College & Statistical Analysis - the math for this unit focuses on statistics, which is not always covered in an algebra course.
  • Unit 10: Insurance & Probability - the math for this unit focuses on probability, which is not always covered in an algebra course.


Suggestion 3: Skip direct instruction for familiar content

Maybe you’re lucky and your school already has a semester-long personal finance course! Or your students arrive with a strong grasp on linear equations. 

Start by determining your students’ baseline knowledge. A few ways you might do that:

  • Use the Financial Algebra Course Diagnostic, available on the Summative Assessments page.
  • At the start of each unit, assess students’ knowledge using the unit Quizlet. You can find this on the Unit Plan for each Financial Algebra unit.
  • Informally assess students using a tool like a KWL Chart or survey

For topics that students have learned previously, consider skipping (most of) those lesson guides. Instead, focus on the Application and/or Math Connection sections. 

  • If students have learned a personal finance topic already, you might skip that lesson entirely, teach only the math connection, or teach only the embedded activities (ie. a CALCULATE or MOVE activity)
  • If students have learned a math topic already, skip the lesson and teach only the Application.


Suggestion 4: Cut individual lessons

One thing that makes NGPF special is our attention to more niche (but important!) topics and our inclusion of engaging student-led activities. But, if you really are short on time, here are some lessons you might consider trimming out:


Suggestion 5: Trim extra practice and Application levels

The Financial Algebra Course is differentiated to include many different opportunities for practice. You might be tempted to do every problem in a 5-Point Practice or all three levels of an Application. Consider trimming down by having students choose fewer problems to complete.


Check it out: Every Financial Algebra Unit Plan now includes a Quizlet with key vocabulary!

About the Author

Kathryn Dawson

Kathryn (she/her) is excited to join the NGPF team after 9 years of experience in education as a mentor, tutor, and special education teacher. She is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in policy analysis and management and has a master's degree in education from Brooklyn College. Kathryn is looking forward to bringing her passion for accessibility and educational justice into curriculum design at NGPF. During her free time, Kathryn loves embarking on cooking projects, walking around her Seattle neighborhood with her partner and dog, or lounging in a hammock with a book.

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