Of the 13 high schools that are within a 40 mile radius of Yucaipa High School [where he teachers] 10 offer a Personal Finance class. About half of those have a semester course and the other half a full year. Yucaipa High is the only school that offers Personal Finance for MATH or Elective Credit. It is also University of California approved as an Advanced Math course. This is huge because our school requires 3 years of math to graduate and as you are well aware not every student is going through Calculus or off to work in a Math related field.
After teaching low level Math for so many years, I pushed hard and convinced the district that Personal Finance was a much more valuable class to Seniors than a third year of Algebra. Last year, I had 160 students enrolled in 5 classes of which 80% had taken my Math 2A/2B courses the previous two years. I began this year nervous as I did not know a single student in the junior class (who would potentially take my class this year). My students did some marketing which included a pitch highlighting the importance of personal finance was important and the key things that they learned from the class. My concern was the students they were marketing to knew nothing about me so I was banking on strong word of mouth from students and parents.
Now ten days into the school year, schedules have leveled level out and I have 5 classes and 165 students. I couldn't be more excited! Why? Well, this year I now have 36 Chromebooks and this technology has changed everything about the class in a very positive way. I can't wait to get to work every day because the Chromebooks have made the students ENGAGED in the curriculum and the discussions we have had have been outstanding!
I am using NGPF's Year Long course curriculum and I have been putting everything on Google Classroom. I love how the assignments, activities and projects are customizable so I can make them my own. We start every class with the Question of the Day. I have them do the questions on the last slide individually and give them 10 minutes to complete it. This has really cut down on tardies! Imagine this: students are actually hurrying to class because they want to know what the question of the day will be. Students arrive before the bell rings and get to work right away. I know we are in the honeymoon period, but this routine is working because they love using the Chromebooks!
After the 10 minutes we have a 10 minute discussion about the question of the day and I preview some items they will learn about when doing the assignment. Students have been asking great questions and I can tell by looking at them that they really want to learn what I am teaching. It is AWESOME! From there we transition into the Student Activity Packet and I require each response to have a minimum of 3 sentences. This way they don't rush through it and give me more thoughtful answers. I give some extra credit for those who go above and beyond. We do about 3 or 4 activities the rest of the 50 minute class period and what they don't finish in class becomes their homework. When they finish the entire Student Activity Packet they turn it in through Google Classroom.
Today we did the Quiz on Unit 1.1 and I used NGPF's Google Forms. The questions were already done and it auto-graded it for me. Then I was able to import their scores from Google Classroom into our Aries gradebook program. We will do about 3 days a week working on the Student Activity packets and the other 2 days I set aside for Activities, Projects, and Games. Where I was embarrassed the past few years by the lack of engagement teaching math I hoped that an Administrator didn't walk in to my class. Now teaching Personal Finance I want administration to come visit! I know they could walk in and they will see students engaged either working on the Chromebooks are deep in to discussion with their neighbors or as a whole class. It is so much fun!
My students are under a lot of stress right now as they not only focused on their requirements for graduation, but what they plan to do next year after high school. I want this class to not be so much about the grade, but about the LEARNING. It was difficult over the years teaching quadratics to students who had no buy in to the information and who were convinced that they were never going to use the information.
With Personal Finance it doesn't matter if a student has a high G.P.A. or a low one EVERY student needs to learn this curriculum. This is math they will use in their daily lives and they know it. I am so grateful for everything that NGPF has provided for me and my students and for the first time in a long time I can't get to work fast enough in the morning because I enjoy what I'm doing so much. I have my smile back! Have a great school year everyone!
About the Authors
Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.