Aug 042011

I have done a very poor job of writing about advanced algebra, the course I helped co-author 4 years ago with 5 other teachers in my district. I would like to rectify that this year, and explain more about the course and honestly, get better ideas for the course.

The course is more project based, and it has four distinct, but overlapping sections. Quarter 1 is financial math, quarter 2 is math in art, quarter 3 is math in technology and quarter 4 is math in health / human body. If you go to the site you will see the basic structure and some of the lessons / sites I use to teach the course.

Starting off this year, I am going to do something different with the quarter 1. It always felt a little disjointed to me. We use the materials from NEFE to get us started, and then we jump in much much deeper than NEFE goes. We spend a lot of time on spreadsheets (which are nothing more than giant algebra problems using variables) polynomial equations and rational equations (another way to think of Pert and other compounding equations, ie. purchasing a car and annuities) as well as some basic ideas of personal finance.

This year, instead of just teaching each module as a standalone, I am going to tie all of the quarter 1 together with this outline.

At the end of this project, you will need to show the Banker your portfolio that demonstrates you have the financial knowledge and ability to purchase a house in the North Valleys.

Part 1: Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

1. Short term, medium term, & long term goals

2. Tracking your goals

3. Adjusting and rewriting your goals

Part 2: Savings & Compound Interest

1. Calculating compounding interest for n

2. Calculating compounding interest for continuously

3. Finding rate or time in both kinds of compounding (working backwards)

4. Knowing and demonstrating differences between APR and interest rate

Part 3: Career & Income

1. Identify 3 careers for yourself

2. Calculate lifetime earnings

3. Calculate $1,000,000 earnings timeline

4. Comparing 2 and 3 for your careers

Part 4: Purchasing a Car

1. Calculating your payment

2. Deciding on years of repayment

3. Comparing years to payment and making a good choice

Part 5: Investing & Credit

1. Risk vs. Reward

2. “Safe” vs. “Intermediate” vs. “Risky” investments

3. Annuities

4. Credit Cards

5. Credit Scores

Part 6: Budgeting your spending and savings

1. Creating a budget (will be working on all quarter)

2. Projecting income

3. Projecting expenses

Part 7: Buying your home

1. Put it all together for the Banker, and using the financial information gathered to justify to the banker that you are a good loan candidate

That’s right. The end goal and purpose of the portfolio will be to purchase a house. It is the biggest investment a person generally makes, but I also know of 4 learners who graduated within the last 3 years who are now homeowners. It is a reality they can achieve now, whereas 3 years ago it was out of reach.

The purpose of this structure is to create a buy-in. Now they see the end goal. This goes hand in hand with backwards design and Understanding by Design principles. I have emailed out a draft to the other Advanced Algebra teachers, and once I have it more fleshed out I will email out another copy. I also hope to get some feedback from them to see what they would add as well.

So, what do you think? Is this a viable way to put together a quarter on personal finance? Let me know in the comments.

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