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Cross Curricular Collaboration in the CTE Classroom

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I get very passionate when it comes to teaching personal finance to my students. I truly believe it is the most important subject for the future of our youth. All students will have money to manage, whether it be a little or a lot. More and more states are requiring students to take at least a one semester personal finance class to graduate high school. Unfortunately, Indiana is not one of those states yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work these life skills into our CTE classes and collaborate with others in the process. This is exactly why I am in love with my personal finance children’s book project.

From the outside, this project looked like a genius thought out plan, but in reality it was just a happy mistake that came together with the help of some key staff and community members.

It all started with a lesson on the psychology of money and savings habits of the general population. My Personal Finance and Banking class studied the different habits of savers and learned, people who had a piggy bank as a child were more likely to have significant savings and contribute to a retirement account as adults. After discussing these findings and how we could make an impact with this information, my students and I decided we wanted to write a children's book they could read to one of our elementary school classrooms. This simple idea turned real big, real fast!

Collaboration with Administration

A project like this required the approval of administration, especially since I would be asking for some money to print a few copies of the books. We also wanted to give each student a small piggy bank.

Most meetings with a principal where you ask for money don’t go the way mine did. My principal loved the idea and said I wasn’t asking for enough. He said I need more money so my students could visit all the second grade classrooms in our district, give each student a piggy bank, and leave a copy of the book with each elementary teacher.

Collaboration with Community Partner

The plan was in motion, but to tackle the feat we were attempting, a significant chunk of money would be needed for it to be accomplished. This is where a community partner came into play. My principal did all of this leg work, which I am so grateful for. He was able to secure enough funding to run this project for this year and next. The logo of our partner was put on the back of each book and on each piggy bank.

Collaboration with English Department

After my students finished the first draft of their book, I was talking to another teacher in the English department about it. She came up with the idea of having my students and her creative writing class collaborate and do a peer review workshop. My students were able to get amazing feedback and make edits to their book while the creative writing students were able to apply their knowledge and studies of storytelling and plot to a real world creation. Here is a digital version of “Cash’s Piggy Party.”

Collaboration with Elementary Schools

My students did a “Book Tour” to all four of our district’s elementary schools and visited each 2nd grade classroom. They read their book to each class, talked about the importance of saving money, and passed out a piggy bank to over 300 students. Check out a video of our book tour here!

We asked all of the students what they were going to save up for. We got a lot of answers like “Nerf Guns!” or “A new Playstation.” Some even wanted to save up for college or a vacation. My personal favorite was a little boy who said, “I’m saving up for a ring for one of my girlfriends!”

While my students were a bit apprehensive about reading in front of the classes (they were super nervous), it turned out to be their favorite part of the experience. One of my senior students said, “I will remember this project. I haven't had any type of project like this in all 4 years at Dekalb. Seeing how happy the students were, and being able to interact with younger kids is always fun for me, so I really liked it.”

Not only did this experience allow my students to validate their hard work by presenting it to the second graders, it also covered a number of elementary and high school personal finance standards.

Collaboration with Local News Sources

Of course a project like this needs news coverage! I contacted the local newspaper and tv stations to join us on our book tour. Not only is this exciting for the students, but it helps connect the community to our students and brings awareness to the importance of personal financial literacy in our school system.

I plan to continue this project every year, focusing on a different personal finance topic each time. This will build up a library of books for the elementary classrooms to use when discussing personal finance.

This project could be applied to a number of different subjects and used across many different departments. Get talking with your peers and community members and you never know what you can come up with.

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