Saturday, October 19, 2013

What I use to teach my own children financial literacy

I'm often asked what resource(s) I use to teach my own children financial literacy skills. It's a fair question, considering I share a plethora of resources I personally believe could be valuable.

I'm a big believer in student choice and game based learning. Therefore, I expose my own children to multiple resources, I make sure I always include a game based learning option, and allow them to select their favorite resource(s). To prevent the summer "brain drain", I set aside educational time each day with my own children. Part of this time is spent on entrepreneurship and integrating financial literacy skills.

My boys are in the 1st grade and 5th grade. Their favorite financial literacy resource is the Secret Millionaires Club. In their own words, here is why they love it....

Bryce (pictured above), who is in the 1st grade,  likes the "Cartoons" because "they are funny and fun to watch." There are 26 total Webisodes, all of which would make great video hooks for a classroom project.

Christian (pictured above), who is in the 5th grade, likes the "Math Game" because "It's fun!". He also helped his younger brother play the game. The Math Game that Christian is eluding to is Number Blaster.

Coming this fall...

The Grow Your Own Business Challenge is just beginning. Kids 7 through 14 will be challenged to come up with a new business idea. Entrants will earn a chance to win a trip to Omaha to meet Warren Buffett at a special finalist celebration event--and they'll also earn a chance to win $5,000! As you can see, it is breathe of fresh air for educators who seem to be facing one standardized test after another.

The program even helps by providing free teaching resources. This is a great way to engage elementary students in an entrepreneurial activity.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

9 napkin sketches that make personal finance easy

Carl Richards, a financial planner, has developed a continuing series of back-of-the-napkin drawings and posts that explain the basics of money through simple graphs and diagrams. Here are nine napkin sketches, each addressing key financial literacy concepts, that I am going to integrate into my coursework.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GBL resource to teach digital safety

The FBI just released CYBER Surf Islands, an ideal game based learning resource to teach digital safety to elementary and middle school students.

Players navigate CYBER Surf Island by playing all of the games within the student's grade level. Games can be played in any order and at any time. There is even an exam at the end.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The collapse of common sense

There are a handful of researchers who do not believe financial education should be offered in our schools. I am not going to dignify their research by sharing it, not because I am being obstinate, but because each financial education antagonist has one thing in common - - they do not understand K-12 education. So please pardon my indignant post, but I am sensitive to policymakers suggesting education policy who do not understand education.

The premise of the argument commonly leads with a false narrative, claiming that financial education in our country is widespread. Most commonly, research states that "44 U.S. states included 'personal finance' in their standard high school curriculum, and 34 states required that these standards be implemented." They use data from each of these 44 states for their research.

So what does this really mean?

In only 13 of the 44 states is Personal Finance required to be taken, and even more alarming is of these 13 states only 4 states require it be taken as a stand alone semester long class for graduation. Further, most states do not even require course specific teacher training. So it is analogous to...

Assigning Social Studies teachers to teach Science without any training in Science.

Having Social Studies teachers integrate Science into Social Studies.

Then reporting through research that Science classes are a waste of time because students aren't learning Science effectively.

That point aside, if financial education was being tried, as policymakers believe it should be, and still failing, does that mean we should stop trying?

Just over half the voting age population exercises their right to vote. However, nobody is suggesting we should eliminate Civics from our curriculum. A large percentage of the population is overweight, yet nobody is suggesting we should eliminate health classes from our curriculum. Financial education is a course designed to help students better understand how they can better themselves financially through their own free will. Some students choose not to make wise financial choices, but that shouldn't mean we should stop empowering them with the knowledge to make a wise choice.

There is a great deal of research domestically, and internationally, that crystalizes the case for financial education. I will save sharing it for another time. For right now, I feel compelled to elaborate on questioning the premise of the adversarial position. I fear their position could lead to the slowing of a much needed effort to grow financial education in our schools, all based on research that collapses when you question it with common sense.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why financial literacy belongs in our schools

On Friday night I was honored to receive the William A. Forbes Public Awareness Award, made possible by the Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation to the Council for Economic Education. The award recognizes an individual who have advanced public awareness of the importance of economic and financial education.

I chose to make the most of my opportunity and advocate for the need for financial literacy. Here was my speech...

I am going to be blunt tonight, but truthful. I have mixed feelings about receiving this award. On one hand, I am deeply grateful to CEE, Nan and Mike McDowell of the Kazanjian Foundation for the recognition of my life’s passion and purpose. I am thankful to teach in Reading Community City Schools, a district who shares my passion, while being lucky enough to receive robust professional development support from Dr. Julie Heath and my local Economic Center at the University of Cincinnati. On the other hand, this award only exists because we need champions for a cause that Americans believe should be our educational duty. To be more specific, a recent Harris Survey found that "99% of U.S. Adults Support Personal Finance Teaching in High Schools", yet only four states have required it be taken as a stand-alone semester long high school graduation course. So while countries such as Russia and Great Britain are including it in compulsory education, we continue to pass hallow legislation that is absent many of the recommendations CFPB Director Cordray referenced in his speech on Thursday; that is of course if your state has passed any at all. For a country with our resources, and a culture that derives from a capitalistic spirit, this is unacceptable.

Practically speaking, if Personal Finance is not legislated as a stand-alone semester long graduation requirement taught by a trained teacher, the consistency and quality of the implementation of the course is spotty at best. Legislation should also include the K-12 integration of financial literacy concepts; the addition of personal finance questions into standardized tests; professional development for teachers that stresses learning through hands on experiences; and tools for parents to teach their children about money.

For a moment I’m going to pause and give thanks as a parent to those of you in the crowd who integrate financial literacy in the elementary and middle school grades. I am a father of two elementary children and a middle school child. My children, in particular my oldest two, are drawn to an economic and financial way of thinking. When their teachers integrate financial and economic literacy into their Math and English lessons, they better understand the Math and English content, and are further motivated to learn because it’s relevant to them. And as an educator, I am equally grateful as the concepts you are scaffolding at an early age prepare high school students to better understand the complexities of personal finance; a big thanks to each of you.

For those of you in the crowd who teach high school students, in particular 10th-12th graders, you know first-hand that we are providing a just-in-time financial education. Most of our students are making financial choices, and many have jobs; pay bills, pay taxes, have accounts at financial institutions; make car payments; pay insurance; and most importantly - - are preparing to make a student debt choice. Study after study indicates that the best time to provide financial education is when consumers are closest to making financial choices. For most 10th-12th graders, those opportunities exist now. Not only do we know it’s relevant, they know it’s relevant! For students who are neglected this education, year after year we continue to matriculate them into the University of Hard Knocks.

Before I move on, Mary Blanusa, if you would, please stand and be recognized for the tireless effort you have put into the CEE Advocacy program. 

I began by saying that I had mixed emotions about receiving tonight’s award; and a final reason is because education is a “WE” profession, not a “ME” profession. Our students can only be successful if our efforts are collective, and that includes advocating for financial literacy in our schools. So please use the Advocacy resources on the CEE website to lobby for financial education in your state. Every child deserves a financial education, and by the way, that includes special education children too.

We know young people today are facing financial distress. We know it impacts workers, and is a major factor in divorce. And we know that the 16 million American students currently living in poverty may not have voices yet, but we do. We may not be able to change the financial challenges our students face as children, but we can empower our students to tackle these challenges as adults. We owe it to all children to advocate for their financial education.

Thank you.

Go To Resource for Financial Literacy

I recently updated my comprehensive LiveBinder with a financial literacy research tab, as well as other resource additions. I put the LiveBinder together to generate one free go-to resource to help my fellow K-12 educators who are teaching or integrating financial literacy.

It includes national standards, tools and resources from various content associations and organizations, games, and content experts to follow. Be sure to click on each sub tab.

CEE Presentation 1: Tips and Tricks to Integrate Technology into Personal Finance

I presenting three times at the Council for Economic Education National Conference in Baltimore. The goals of my first presentation were:

• Share technology tips and tricks for a Personal Finance course that can be integrated into pre-existing lessons

• Share technology tips and tricks for a Personal Finance course that nudge student content understanding to appropriate financial behavior

Click here to download an overview of the presentation.