Digging Deeper into the Fifth “C”: Integrating Financial Literacy into Your Curriculum
In my previous article, I introduced the idea of the Fifth “C” to 21st century learning as Commerce. This “C” introduces the notion that we must expose students to the concepts of financial literacy, so that they will be able to effectively read, write, speak, and understand the language of money.
However, this idea of being financially literate is one often overlooked in K-12 education. You may recall the case I made for why teaching concepts of financial literacy are crucial for all learners. I also mentioned several resources to begin your journey in financial literacy that can serve as empowerment tools as well as gauge student interest and engagement as they explore these topics.
Now that you’ve had your introduction to financial literacy, let’s dig deeper into what financial literacy can offer and how it can benefit your learners. Take a peek at my favorite online resources that can help immerse your students into several aspects of financial literacy.
Benefits of Financial Literacy Programs
These programs all have several traits in common that benefit both educators and students. First, most are offered at no extra cost and only require that teachers create a free account with their platform. Once this is done, educators have access to information on new courses or resources offered and other curriculum materials. The best part is that these platforms are robust and organized in a way that educators can find an abundance of supplemental materials such as extensions to online modules or lessons along with discussion questions. This makes it more convenient for educators to modify lessons and topics to best meet their learners’ and curricular goals.
One program to mention is Everfi. All school districts across North America have access to this financial education platform and its offerings at no-cost thanks to sponsorship from national and regional partners. In my district, for example, we have free Everfi course offerings and a representative from Everfi that my teachers and I have contact with. She is usually present at our state educational technology conference and is available throughout the year for questions regarding the Everfi platform.
Earn Your Future Digital Lab
Earn Your Future Digital Lab is free to educators and is designed for students in grades 3-12. The program is divided into three levels:
- Level 1 for grades 3-5
- Level 2 for grades 6-8
- Level 3 for grades 9-12
Each level offers modules that focus on different topics such as saving and spending money, investing, insurance and risk management, using and managing credit, earning income, and more. As students progress through the modules, they take an assessment before they can move on to the next module. The dashboard allows teachers to add class rosters and view student progress of each module. Finally, this platform offers an educator guide which provides an overview on navigating the platform, reviews standards met by each module, and offers curricular maps on how to teach concepts.
A unique feature of Earn Your Future Digital Lab is that teachers have the option of incorporating into whole group instruction or individualized learning. If teachers are pressed for time, they can go through the modules and show videos via an interactive whiteboard. The assessments at the end of the module can be used as a discussion tool to review main concepts introduced. The other option is to have students complete an assigned module and take the assessment on their own. Students can then discuss topics as a class in a small or whole group.
Another valuable resource to explore financial literacy is Everfi. This platform offers scenario based modules for students in grades 4-12. Some of the courses include:
- Vault: Financial Literacy for Elementary Students for grades 4-6,
- Future Smart for grades 6-8
- NFTE Venture: Entrepreneurial Expedition for grades 7-10
- Marketplaces: Investing Basics
- Keys to Your Future: College and Career Readiness for grades 9-12
- Everfi: High School Financial Literacy for grades 9-12
While each course is designed for a specific age range, they also focus on different topics of financial literacy such as investing, banking basics, saving, earning income and career exploration, to name a few.
This gives educators a choice of topics they want to focus on with their students. For example, in NFTE Venture, students will dig deeper into the entrepreneurial aspects and be expected to start a business plan, hire a team, and manage a budget as they start a food truck business. In Future Smart, students act as the mayor of a town and assist its citizens to make financial decisions as problems arise. Furthermore, each course immerses students via simulations where they need to make decisions to reach a desired outcome or goal, which pushes students to apply higher levels of thinking such as decision and problem-solving skills.
Everfi is very educator friendly because it offers many user-friendly features within the platform. Once teachers log in, they have access to many resources in the Teacher Center such as lesson plans in both English and Spanish to go along with each module, classroom posters, a vocabulary bank, and a curriculum guide for the selected course. This format creates a blended learning environment which allow the teacher to extend discussions of concepts presented during face-to-face interactions in the classroom.
Teachers can also easily manage their classes and students as well as track each student’s progress by viewing and printing class reports. And finally, Everfi has a “Invite a Teacher” button on the Teacher Center to get other educators involved. So if your district offers this platform, go ahead and invite a colleague to spread the word!
Next Gen is another hidden gem worth noting when it comes to teaching financial literacy. It was started by Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) a non-profit whose goal is to provide free access to teachers on teaching finance topics. This platform is perhaps the most extensive of them all because it offers a wide range that includes units, 9-week courses, semester courses, and year long courses.
In addition, the platform has compiled a list of arcade games to teach different financial literacy topics with accompanying activity to go with each game. Because of the in-depth examination of topics and reading levels reflected in these resources, I would recommend Next Gen for use in middle school to high school settings.
Next Gen also offers extensive support for its users. The Teacher Toolkit houses a “Getting Started” guide, videos with tips on how to navigate the platform and resources, teacher and student resources, Spanish Materials, and a Math Directory, which aligns activities to Common Core Standards.
Perhaps the most convenient feature is that all lessons and resources are all in Google Docs, which can be easily incorporated into Google Classroom. Next Gen also incorporates pre-made interactive games in Quizlet and Kahoot, which can be uploaded to Google Classroom during review of concepts with students. These features provide enrichment and extension opportunities for students.
Another benefit of using Next Gen is that it has a growing robust online community for teachers. In the Teacher Toolkit, educators can find webinars covering a vast selection of financial literacy topics such as checking, savings, types of credit, managing credit, paying for college, budgeting, investing, insurance, taxes, and careers. These are meant to prepare educators who need to review or refresh these concepts before teaching them. There is also a Community link on the platform that takes users to the NGPF blog, podcasts, FinLit Fanatics, its Facebook page, and its newsletter.
NGPF even hosts an annual summit where advocates meet face to face to increase access to financial literacy education nationwide. Moreover, users have a plethora of options on how to connect with other educators both online and in person to learn and share best practices in teaching financial literacy.
The platforms listed here all have the potential to not only introduce learners into different concepts, but also engage them through interactive games and activities as well as simulations. These types of learning environments push students to apply concepts to different scenarios and challenge them to use other skills such as decision making and problem solving, which helps them put their learning into real world context. I encourage educators to explore these platforms and find what will best suit their students in helping them understand the best practices for money management.
Do you have any additional platforms that can help integrate financial literacy into curriculum? Tell us on Twitter @Schoology