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Every Choice Has a Cost

05 Feb

I attended some personal financial literacy training last weekend, presented by the Colorado Council for Economic Education.  In Colorado, we’ve adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) mostly, but with added standards for Personal Financial Literacy… which show up in our standards tagged with (PFL).  A couple of co-workers and I thought the training would be a good introduction to what we need to teach in the new standards, and we weren’t disappointed!

If there’s one enduring understanding I could take away from personal financial literacy, it’s that “every choice has a cost”.  The ability to analyze and make informed judgments on the costs of your choices could make a big impact on your future success.

In sixth grade, the standards include saving for goals, using percents to solve saving and investing problems, and explaining the difference between saving and investing.

In seventh grade, we move on to understanding taxes – computing taxes, describing the role of taxes in society, and demonstrating the impact of taxes on your income and spending.  In addition, students should be able to compute interest and use unit rates to make purchasing decisions.

In eighth grade, students should understand how credit and debt impact their life goals, and describe the components of credit history.

There is a lot there, and we don’t tend to cover financial literacy well now.  However, it helped me to think of the big understanding, that the thread woven through many units of study must be helping students to analyze the cost of choices and make good judgments based on that analysis.

I want to put in a plug for the Council for Economic Education and the Financial Fitness for Life books.  The books have kid-friendly resources that cover finance problems, and put them in context of analyzing choices.  You can view some activities on the companion web site for the middle school books – click on a lesson and get to some information about the lesson and web resources.

I’m working on adding this analysis to the conversation as we work on our units on percents, probability, and linear algebra.

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