Teaching Money with Technology

Black and White vector image of students at computer desks

While some personal finance educators struggle just to connect to the Internet, others are watching as technology awakens their students to new possibilities — and sometimes to the cold, hard facts of life — through games, apps, websites, simulators, calculators and other tech tools. “They sincerely appreciate the opportunity to make virtual mistakes and avoid some of the same things in the real world,” says Ronald Cross, a financial literacy teacher in Dallas. But good tools are best used by good teachers. As Michigan business teacher Brian Johnson says: “The use of humor, being enthusiastic about the topic, and the ability to communicate with young people is more powerful than the most expensive piece of technology.”

NEFE recently surveyed High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) educators to find out how they are (and aren’t) using tech tools in their classrooms. Join teachers and their students in tweeting #FinEdTech during the week of Nov. 9 – 13, and follow along on Twitter at NEFE_ORG.

Jason Richmond, Springfield, MA

Jason Richmond, Springfield, MA

Being a teacher in the Department of Youth Services for the last five years has been rewarding and challenging, but the rewards are so much greater when you see students who have experienced nothing but failure in the classroom enjoy learning again. I use the Internet and Investopedia.com to set each student up with a simulated real-time stock account. I have watched the gang discussions in class change to stock market talk, and each morning, the students are eager to log on and check their portfolios. This is why I teach.


"I have watched the gang discussions in class change to stock market talk...This is why I teach."

Mariah Phillips, Murfreesboro, TN

As adults, most of the financial world will be online for our students. My college and career project requires students to research colleges online. They learn to navigate a college website and look at what is required for a college application, now almost exclusively done online. We apply for scholarships through Web-based scholarship match programs. Walking through the FAFSA application online makes it not so scary after all.

Christina Ladner, Long Beach, MS

Christina Ladner, Long Beach, MS

We use technology quite a bit in my business vocational class. My students actually run a fully-stocked coffee shop for our teachers and students each morning. They learn how to run a real-world business. We use computers and tablets to keep track of our inventory, budget, income and expenses. We also do weekly advertising using computers.


"They learn how to run a real-world business."

Tammy Harper, Mount Vernon, AR

I teach all the core subjects to 7th-12th grade students with disabilities. Since none of my students are on the same level in math and many cannot read above a second-grade level, I have used multiple online programs to teach math. I am a big believer in audiobooks and my students use online resources to have text read aloud. I use several apps and programs for autism spectrum disorder support.

Laura Bender, Hudson, NY

Laura Bender, Hudson, NY

In my classroom, students explore personal finance by completing a month-long project that integrates technology and their own personal interests to create a unique picture of what their lives will be like in the future. They research a chosen career, understand the requirements of it, and establish a salary. Using this salary, they fill out tax forms online and determine their take-home income. After this, students use typical websites to find a place to live, buy a car, find financing and understand their credit score. In the end, students develop a budget with all of their expenses and reflect on their spending choices.

“Students create a unique picture of what their lives will be like in the future.”

Oliver Norrell, Richmond, VA

I am now starting my third year of high school instruction in the Army JROTC program. One of the modules involves personal financial instruction. I crave the use of technology in the classroom as it assists in the instruction process and can be used to capture the attention of our cadets.

Brian Johnson, Grand Rapids, MI

Brian Johnson, Grand Rapids, MI

My district, Forest Hills Public Schools, is going to a “bring your own device” philosophy where the kiddos are now being encouraged to learn through technology. Since I’ve been using technology for my students for over 10 years, I’m thrilled about this initiative. However, while the use of technology is a great thing that I’ve been incorporating for many years now, it does not replace quality teaching. The use of humor, being enthusiastic about the topic, and the ability to communicate with young people is more powerful than the most expensive piece of technology!


“Since I’ve been using technology for my students for over 10 years, I’m thrilled about this initiative.”

Diane Smith, Old Forge, PA

Sixteen old desktop computers are in my classroom. Sometimes, these work. On good days, some can reach the Internet. The server is slow, so if the resources I’ve assigned are not too content-dense, my students can use online resources. Don’t doubt that I will get better technology. No one thought I could get personal finance added to this school’s curriculum, and I am now teaching it!

Jeanna Grover, Blanding, UT

Jeanna Grover and students, Blanding, UT

To engage visual learners, I have students demonstrate their subject knowledge by using online cartoon creators to create a cartoon or comic. I have had students who rarely submit assignments, submit amazing work using this type of technology. While technology may never replace the need for one-on-one communication between teachers and students, technology can help teachers engage students in meaningful learning.

“I have had students who rarely submit assignments, submit amazing work using this type of technology.”

James Tietz, Plymouth, WI

I am in a correctional facility and am not able to use technology, but only explain its uses. Imagine having been incarcerated since the early ‘80s and now getting close to your release date. A whole new world from what you left awaits you. For some of these inmates, they can only imagine things they have not seen others using. The NEFE materials help to inform my students about technology, but also how to make better choices as their lives move forward.

Ronald Cross, Dallas, TX

Ronald Cross, Dallas, TX

One of the most efficient things to do is to gamify the lessons. I’ve found that simulations are the most exhilarating activities that a teacher can use, because they make abstract concepts concrete. Students sincerely appreciate the opportunity to make virtual mistakes and avoid some of the same things in the real world. As great as technology is, we also have to find innovative ways to implement and use the resources available.



“As great as technology is, we also have to find innovative ways to implement and use the resources available.”

Mike Kania, Glendale, WI

Let’s face it, kids love gaming. If we put nearly the amount of time we engage in playing games into solving a worldwide problem such as hunger or poverty, we’d be a lot closer to solving those problems. At Nicolet High School, we harness that energy and excitement in our Mobile Apps and Game Design course. By searching “Nicolet High School” in the Google Play store, you’ll see some of the apps our kids have programmed/created, including Route 50, We Want Whale, Pocket Rocket, Galaxy Rush and more.

See the full Nov/Dec 2015 Digest or download the PDF.

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    pdg@nefe.org

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    pas@nefe.org

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    pdg@nefe.org

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    pas@nefe.org