Including Personal Finance When Teaching Exponential Functions


Author: Annie Cartie

Cartie money icon.png

Do you teach Algebra 2 to high school students?

Do you teach compound interest in your curriculum?

Cartie Unit1 1 money.jpg

Do your students struggle through this topic despite it being one of the most 'real world' topics they will encounter?

If you answered 'YES' to these questions, then this course is for YOU!

As adults, our life experiences have shown us that our financial well-being is dependent on how well we understand the situations that adult life requires. Our students' first experience with personal finance often comes in the form of taking out a loan - often for college or a car. With all loans, it is vital for a borrower to understand the concept of interest, specifically compounding interest, as this is the type of interest accrued on most loans.

When will your students learn about compound interest?
How will they learn to calculate it?
Can they recall this knowledge and apply it in their 19-year old lives?

An important next question for all Algebra 2 teachers to consider is this: Will those two compound interest math problems that you cover in one class period be enough instruction to empower students to make informed financial decisions as young adults?

Cartie money icon.png

This mini-course will demonstrate the value of integrating personal finance in the high school mathematics classroom. In working through these four units, math educators will learn how to design instructions that teaches personal finance concepts in conjunction with exponential function lessons.

The following topics will be covered:

  • What is personal finance?
  • To what degree should high school graduates understand how to manage their personal finances?
  • How do educators find a balance between computation and conceptual understanding?
  • How do educators design instruction to authentically include real-world applications?

Cartie money icon.png
Performance Objectives

  • When given two questions used to determine financial literacy in an international study of adults, the learner will solve each problem with 100% accuracy using a four-function calculator, paper, and pencil.
  • After having the opportunity to solve the two questions used to determine financial literacy, the learner will breakdown no less than five math skills he/she used in a graphic organizer.
  • Given two word problems from a popular Common Core Algebra 2 curriculum, the learner will list no less than ten financial concepts or definitions one must know in order to solve the two problems.
  • Provided with the current NYS Regents Diploma requirements, the learner will predict categories of students who are at risk of graduating high school without sufficient understanding of wealth management in 150 to 200 words.
  • Given a sample lesson plan, the learner will design a lesson plan built on an overarching scenario problem that spans at least two class periods, utilizes 1 media source and includes at least 1 online interest calculator for use in his/her current classroom setting.
  • Given the question, ‘What community member will you invite into your classroom to improve students’ financial decision-making capacity?’, the learner will write an email to secure this community connection.
  • When the learner has a choice to integrate wealth management topics into lessons, the learner chooses to prepare overarching scenario problems that span at least two class periods.

Time to dive into some personal finance!
Begin with Unit 1 below and proceed through this mini-course.

Cartie money icon.png
Unit 1: Exploring Personal Finance & Measures of Financial Literacy

Objective: Participants will demonstrate the ability to explain personal finance.

Cartie money icon.png
Unit 2: Connecting Algebra 2 Concepts to Personal Finance

Objective: Participants will demonstrate the ability to outline high school math concepts necessary to manage personal finances.

Cartie money icon.png
Unit 3: Balancing Computation and Conceptual Understanding

Objective: Participants will demonstrate the ability to design a lesson plan that meets learning standards and uses online calculators.

Cartie money icon.png
Unit 4: Designing Instruction with Real-World Applications

Objective: Participants will demonstrate the ability to plan an authentic community engagement experience for students.

Cartie money icon.png
Wrap-Up & Resources


Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R.R. (1999). The Design of Learning Environments. (Chapter 6) How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school. Retrieved from

Cartie, P. (2018, October 28). Compound interest and student loans [YouTube video]. Retrieved from

Cole, S., Paulson, A., & Shastry, G. K. (2013). High school and financial outcomes: The impact of mandated personal finance and mathematics courses. Manuscript: Harvard Business School. Retrieved from

Jazz Wealth Managers. (2018, February 6). Why choose an independent financial advisor? [YouTube video]. Retrieved from

Khan Academy. (2017, July 21). Options for tracking and managing your spending [YouTube video]. Retrieved from

Lusardi, A., & Mitchell, O. S. (2011, Oct). Financial literacy around the world. J Pension Econ Financ, 10(4), 497–508. doi:10.1017/S1474747211000448. Retrieved from

New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. (n.d.) Regents requirements. Retrieved from

Visions Federal Credit Union. (2018). Resources. Retrieved from

Wall Street Survivor. (2013, April 29). Interests rates by wall street survivor [YouTube video]. Retrieved from

Weiler, K. (2016, April 28). Common core algebra II.unit 4.lesson 6.Exponential modeling with percent growth and decay.V2 [YouTube video]. Retrieved from

Weiler, K. (2018). eMathInstruction: Teaching math just got a whole lot easier. Retrieved from


Return to:
Mini-course Portfolio Page
Author's Personal Page
ETAP 623 (Fall 2018) Course Page