By Teachers, For Teachers
When students graduate from high school, many enter the working world where they are expected to balance budgets, pay bills, and submit rent and car payments on time. All of these expenses must be paid from whatever money they get from the job(s) they find after graduation. The world expects them to pay these critical bills before eating out, buying clothes, or entertaining themselves. That's not as easy as it sounds. Most new jobholders never had to think about costs vs. revenue, instead relied on parents to keep a roof over their head, heat and AC turned on, and gas in the car (and a car in the driveway). Needless to say, paying these essential bills may be daunting, even confusing. The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad news is it's not mandatory.
Last year, I published a list of eight great technology in the classroom financial literacy sites for grades 3-12. Now, just in time for April's Financial Literacy Month, the business world has released an impressive list of additional technology in the classroom resources to help teens see through the murkiness of financial independence. During April, give students at least a few hours to visit one or more of these excellent technology in the classroom websites:
Through this interactive video game, students learn to identify advertising and understand its messages with the goal of becoming informed, discerning consumers. To win the game, they will have to answer questions like, "Who is responsible for the ad?", "What is the ad actually saying?", and "What does the ad want me to do?" For educators and parents, Admongo includes tools like videos, lesson plans, printed materials, downloads, and alignment with state standards.
Admongo is put out by the Federal Trade Commission, which also offers two other well-received games, one called "You Are Here" about consumer education at the mall and one called "Spam Scam Slam" about spam.
Kids pick a business they would like to start and try to grow it by making wise financial decisions. They choose a car wash, a comic book publisher, or a dog-walking service. Then they decide if they want a partner, what the company name will be, how to market it, and more. Choices are explained in kid-friendly language before they're made. To assist in decisionmaking, students can watch videos, consult experts. Each smart (and not-so-smart) decision will determine the business's economic success.
This is part of a PBS collection of resources on economic issues that affect kids as they grow up.
Players set up a coffee shop and make as much money as they can in 14 days. To succeed they must wisely buy ingredients, choose a popular recipe, and set an agreeable price. When that's done, the doors are open for business and players see if they made good decisions. The site includes Common Core Math Standards addressed with play.
Younger kids can select related games running businesses like a Lemonade Stand, a hotel, a shopping mall, and more.
In this game-based simulation, students discover the secrets to developing good credit habits and learn how long it can take to pay off a credit card balance. The objectives are to maintain a good credit rating by making payments on time while accumulating as many consumer goods and services as possible.
This game is part of a larger collection offered by the Council for Economic Education to help students understand the economics associated with running their lives. Other units include "Getting out of debt" and "Debit cards vs. credit cards."
With this free real-time streaming stock market game, students set up accounts or join an existing group. They invest virtual cash, research their strategy with more than 100 videos and tutorials, and compete against classmates and the world to see how successful they would be if they were using their money.
There are lots of online stock market games (I included a different one last year). This one is used by 10,000 schools each year and 350,000 individuals. It also includes a teacher's guide, a series of lesson plans, and the Common Core standards addressed.
Put out by MIT, Living Wage Calculator estimates the cost of living in your community or region. The calculator lists typical expenses, cost of living, and typical wages. Students start by selecting their state, county, or metropolitan area, and then evaluate costs vs. expenses in that area. Older students can also read articles on living wages through the United States.
Because more often than not, 18-24 year olds are on a mobile device rather than a computer, here are six apps that can be played from anywhere:
The importance of financial literacy can't be overstated. Rather than introduce one game from this collection during a class unit on personal economics, have students play throughout the school year, reinforcing prior learning, scaffolding knowledge, and self-reporting their progress. Set one game aside to play at the end of the year as a summative assessment. Not only will students appreciate their financial literacy, so will their parents.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of more than 100 ed-tech resources, including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in ed-tech, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on ed-tech topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s debut tech thriller, To Hunt a Sub.