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Financial Literacy: The Subject Students Wish They Were Taught


How a band leader, an English teacher, and other educators across the country are teaching financial literacy to prepare their students for life beyond the classroom.

Students working together on a personal finance project

At our annual summer staff meeting, we asked a group of visiting graduating seniors to share the one subject they wished they’d been taught in high school. Their response? Financial literacy. Students wanted to learn how to open a bank account, pay taxes, and create a budget—skills that will help them survive and thrive in life after high school. We know these skills are important, but where do they fit into busy classroom schedules? Is it possible to help your students develop skills by teaching financial literacy even if you don’t teach economics or personal finance?DonorsChoose.org teachers answered this questions with a resounding “Yes!” Last spring, we partnered with Next Gen Personal Finance to connect teachers in over 1,000 classrooms with free, ready-to-use financial literacy lessons and activities. The folks at Next Gen were eager to gather feedback from teachers to make their resources even better. They offered $100 in classroom funding to DonorsChoose.org teachers who taught a Next Gen Personal Finance lesson to their students and shared their experience with the Next Gen team. Middle school and high school teachers across all subject areas used these resources to help prepare their students for successful financial futures.

Ideas in Action

Here are some of the innovative ways educators are teaching financial literacy in their classrooms. (We’ve included links to their lesson plans for use in your room if they strike a chord with you!)Ms. Gates, a 12th grade English teacher, used the Roleplay activity, Living Paycheck to Paycheck, to teach personal finance and deepen students’ understanding of the texts they read in English class.

“This activity [got] them thinking about what a college degree could mean to them, but also it helped me connect them to the poverty level that the Irish were living when Jonathan Swift wrote A Modest Proposal, thus expanding their understanding of the essay.”

Ms. Gillette, a middle school Band and Orchestra teacher, used the Data Crunch activity, What do College Grads Want in a Job?, to help her music students think about the future.

“I was able to use this activity to spark a discussion about the career paths available in music and the arts as well as the special financial considerations that freelancing artists have to look for in a job.”

Mrs. Hollinger, a middle school Education Specialist, used the Project, Budgeting With Roommates, to foster collaboration and strengthen academic skills with her students in math class.

“It was so great to see my students interact with each other over this resource. I could really see my students connect with the functional math concepts. I loved seeing the real-life situation click with them... Overall, this was a great way to expose my students with special needs to functional math skills that will be crucial for them after graduation."

Ready to bring financial literacy into your own classroom? Visit our help center to learn more. You can also explore the free online curriculum from Next Gen Personal Finance.

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