Stephanie Rivera


Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2019

Enter: Financial Literacy in the High School Classroom Mini-Course

About Me

Hello Everyone! My name is Stephanie Rivera. I am an Algebra I teacher at Onteora High School in Boiceville, NY. I am pursuing a Master's degree in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology at the University of Albany. I expect to complete the program this summer!

My Topic and Purpose

This mini-course will cover real-world application of Algebra I, focusing specifically on financial literacy. Every year, multiple times a year, I hear "when will I ever have to use this? Why do I need to know this?" I want to give purpose to learning mathematics other than learning it to strengthen critical thinking skills. In recent news, lawmakers are encouraging and supporting the idea of making a financial literacy course a high-school graduation requirement. This is wonderful news because so many of our young adults are unaware of how to manage their money, file taxes, and lack basic financial skills to be independent.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will learn about the fundamental needs of financial literacy that our young adults lack. They will ultimately be creating a mock unit that they could teach to a group of secondary students.

The project will:

  • Analyze education, career choices, and or skills needed in order to become financially independent.
  • Be able to calculate taxes.
  • Compare career choices, develop budgets, and understand how to manage money.
  • Compare various loan/credit cards.
  • Apply for a loan/credit card.
  • Learn how to manage debt and ways to relieve it.
  • Understand the importance of a credit score.

Needs Assessment

Part 1: Instructional Problem
The intent of this mini-course is to encourage implementation of real-world mathematics into Algebra I Common Core courses. More specifically, career choices, taxes, and debt. I want to offer educators specific lessons, plans, and activities that support and encourage financial literacy and independence.

Part 2: What will be learned?
Learners will gain knowledge, understanding, and ideas of how to implement financial literacy into their current curriculum.

Part 3: Who are the course participants?
The learners are novice and veteran teachers interested in new and innovative ways to include financial literacy into their daily plans. Learners will already have experience with creating lesson plans, and many will already have plans in place, but ultimately will be making changes in order to include content learned from this course.

Part 4: Location of Instruction
Learners will be able to complete the course wherever they see fit. They will be required to have access to internet and a computer.

Part 5: Goals
The ultimate goals of this mini-course are to enhance and encourage implementation of financial literacy into everyday lesson plans in the mathematics classroom. I want educators to provide their students with the knowledge needed to be financially aware of their choices and consequences they may face if they do not choose wisely. All too often I see young adults who already ruined their credit because they took out a credit card with incredibly high interest rates and didn't pay it back. I know plenty of people who regret their educational choices because they have student loans that are burdening their lives and can never get ahead. These students need us to teach them how to navigate their finances independently.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

I surveyed the mathematics department at Onteora High School and discovered that they shared my thoughts about educating our students about mathematics that they will face throughout their everyday lives. They mentioned several examples, such as, young adults lacking the ability to budget their money which led to making poor financial choices. They expressed their concern with the lack of awareness about all of the costs that it takes to live life without financial support.

Question 1: Do you believe that students currently learn math that they will find useful in the future?
100% surveyed answered no.
Question 2:What type of math do you think our students should know which will be useful to them as young adults?
Those surveyed expressed that they believed, accounting, budgeting, credit cards, loans, investments, taxes, are all essential topics that should be taught to high school students.
Question 3:What problems do young adults face because they are not well prepared to budget their finances?
"Debt." "Going into heavy debt due to excessive spending." "They waste and lose money." "They become dependent on others because they make poor choices." "Debt, poverty, lots of stress."
Question 4:Do you believe high school students should take a course on personal finance as a graduation requirement?
100% surveyed answered yes.
Question 5:Thinking back, how sure did you feel about your abilities to manage your finances after graduating high school/college?
"Not sure at all." "Very sure. My parents taught me about budgets, expenses and saving money, how to file my taxes and using a checkbook." "I did not learn it in school. What I learned was from home and may not have been the best." "My parents were excellent models for me growing up, so pretty confident."

Performance-Based Objectives

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  1. Clearly define financial literacy and its key components.
  2. Thoroughly understand the benefits of implementing financial literacy in the classroom.
  3. Share their thoughts and ideas on required readings and outside sources with their peers in online discussions.
  4. Create a plan to improve credit-worthiness and debt, provided detailed examples.
  5. Design a project that will require their students to choose a career, home, and generate a budget.

Task Analysis

Unit 1
Understanding the need to educate students on financial literacy in the classroom.

  1. The learner will clearly define financial literacy.
  2. The learner will be able to identify purpose for financial literacy in the classroom.
  3. (Prerequisite) The learner will be familiar with planning and designing effective lessons.
  4. (Prerequisite) The learner will be able to have deep and meaningful conversations with peers about the required readings/videos. They will encourage one another to elaborate and relate personal experiences to create strong connections.

Unit 2
What elements of financial literacy are most essential to provide to young adults?

  1. The learner will examine, understand, and provide examples of how specific life choices affect income prior to reading and watching the required elements of the module.
  2. The learners will explore the different paths that students may choose when given the opportunity to continue formal education at their high school or go to a trade school, such as, BOCES.
  3. The learner will write a discussion post to share with their peers addressing what they found to be most important, and will respond to several peers.
  4. The learner will come up with ideas for a final project.

Unit 3
Understanding and exploring debt of young adults and ways to manage it.

  1. The learner will explore debt to income ratio of young adults.
  2. The learner will be able to identify what makes someone worthy of a loan/credit card.
  3. The learner will create an outline for their final project.

Unit 4
Exploring financial choices & planning for the future.

  1. The learners will explore the differences, pros & cons of renting vs. buying a home.
  2. The learners will create a budget based on living choices, job, and expenses.
  3. The learners will explore retirement plans.
  4. The learners will finalize their projects (lesson plans) on financial literacy.

Curriculum Map

GOAL: Teachers will have a deep and meaningful understanding of financial literacy, and will be able to incorporate it within their classrooms. They will be creating a financial project that can be taught to secondary students.

Prerequisites: The learner will be familiar with planning and designing effective lessons. The learner will be able to have deep and meaningful conversations with peers about the required readings/videos. They will encourage one another to elaborate and relate personal experiences to create strong connections.

Unit 1: Learners will be given foundational information on financial literacy in various media formats. They will be expected to view/read all content. Have a brief discussion with their peers to share thoughts and ideas.

Unit 2: Learners will be given specific information on various aspects of finances. They will read, evaluate, and share their thoughts with their peers. They will determine what they think is most important for students to know prior to graduation. They will begin the process of coming up with ideas for their project.

Unit 3: Participants will explore debt of young adults. (Student loans, credit cards, interest...)

Unit 4: They will explore financial choices and planning for the future. In this unit, they will finalize the details of their project. They will share their project in an idea format so their peers can assess their work.

References and Resources

  1. Compen, B., De Witte, K., & Schelfhout, W. (2019). The role of teacher professional development in financial literacy education: A systematic literature review. Educational Research Review, 26, 16–31.
  2. Dettling, L. J., & Hsu, J. W. (2014). The State of Young Adults’ Balance Sheets: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, 96(4), 305–330.
  3. Dyer, S. P., Lambeth, D. T., & Martin, E. P. (2016). Effects of Multimodal Instruction on Personal Finance Skills for High School Students. Journal on School Educational Technology, 11(4), 1–17. Retrieved from
  4. Farinella, J., Bland, J., & Franco, J. (2017). The Impact of Financial Education on Financial Literacy and Spending Habits. International Journal of Business, Accounting, & Finance, 11(1), 1–12. Retrieved from
  5. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. (n.d.) Expense Tracking [PDF File]. Retrieved from
  6. Gil, E. L. (2015). Leading the Way for Financial Literacy Education: A Case Study on Collaboration. Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship, 20(1/2), 27–53.
  7. Houle, J. N. (2014). A Generation Indebted: Young Adult Debt across Three Cohorts. Social Problems, 61(3), 448–465.
  8. Shim, S., Serido, J., & Tang, C. (2013). After the global financial crash: Individual factors differentiating young adult consumers’ trust in banks and financial institutions. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 20(1), 26–33.