27Mar, 2017

Amanda Volz & Her (Soon-to-be) Classroom of the Future

By |March 27th, 2017|Featured Teachers, NGPF Fellows, Schools In News|

NGPF Fellow Amanda Volz has made her local newspaper yet again, this time for the “Classroom of the Future” she’s designed and will have in place in less than two weeks at St. Clair High School in St. Clair, MI. Though Amanda is certainly an innovative educator across the board, this particular grant she received allowed her to design a new classroom layout, complete with flexible furniture and a “mini business setting.” The new classroom setup will perfectly accompany her use of real world applications, case studies, and simulations — key components of her financial management class.

Check out the article here on The Times Herald. Note that if you squint closely, you can see Amanda was using NGPF’s 1040EZ activity during the photos! AND, note that if you read closely, you’ll see NGPF 2016 Jump$tart Scholarship winner Laurie Gardner (Marine City High School) is ALSO getting a classroom of the future.

NGPF LOVES ambitious educators!


27Mar, 2017

Articles: The History of the Department Store and the Modern Day Department Store Destroyer

By |March 27th, 2017|Article, Budgeting, Current Events, Entrepreneurship, Investing, Purchase Decisions, Research|

Two articles that I thought your students might enjoy since shopping seems top of mind for many teens. I think these would be particularly good as a supplement for your investing or entrepreneurship lessons. One article describes the rise of the department store (Inventing the Department Store in Barrons; about 5 minutes reading) and the other describes the modern day Leviathan that is destroying department stores and other competitors too (Amazon: Primed from the Economist (three articles free per week); about 15 minutes reading).

A Q&A follows focused on the key takeaways from the readings.

Some highlights from the Barrons article:

What led to the first department stores being opened in London? 

As affluence increased in the 18th century and the Industrial Revolution made more goods available, shopping began to evolve into what would become the department store. The first ones began by catering to the most common type of shoppers, women. The first real department store, Harding, Howell & Cos.’ Grand Fashionable Magazine, opened in London in 1796. Its four departments carried furs, jewelry, dresses, and hats, and accessories such as lace and gloves.

Who brought concept to US? Alexander Stewart

What was his insight that led to their popularity? 

26Mar, 2017

History Lesson: The Dow Jones Industrial Average Since 1896 In One Chart

By |March 26th, 2017|Chart of the Week, Index Funds, Investing, Math, Research, Stocks|

Great infographic showing the price action for the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past 130 years with historical milestones along the way (click on the graphic to enlarge it):

26Mar, 2017

What’s an NGPF FinCamp?

By |March 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|

NGPF is committed to providing educators with a robust set of professional development opportunities. These range from asynchronous offerings (podcasts, NGPF blog posts, flash surveys and Q&A Forum) to real-time (PLCs and monthly webinars) to in-person (workshops at state and national conferences and NGPF Summer Institute). We developed FinCamp to provide teachers with a one-day workshop focused on collaboration, curation, creation and content.

We completed our first FinCamp in early March in Palo Alto, California (thanks to the 28 attendees!) and here’s what participants had to say:

  • THANK YOU!!!!! I share your vision!
  • This was so well done! You made us feel welcome and valued, and the information shared was amazing!!!! Can’t wait to use your resources!
  • Thank you! It was great! I hope to convince my school to create a semester course and I could absolutely do it with your resources.
  • Thank you. I have been to a lot of these [PD sessions] over the years. Too many times I felt that they  [organizers] were asking use to do all the work so they could benefit from our work. You have flipped this concept and showed what you have created to help me help my students.”

FinCamp has been developed with the 4Cs in mind: collaboration, curation, creation and content:

23Mar, 2017

Question: What Financial Products Should A Young Person Use To Manage Their Money?

By |March 23rd, 2017|Budgeting, Checking Accounts, Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Question of the Day, Research, Teaching Strategies, Writing assignment|

Hanging out on the Boglehead Forum today skimming the topics that have received the most replies. Forums seem so “old school” in this age of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat) but the ones that have survived and thrived have done so for a reason. For those not familiar with the Boglehead Forum, the forum is named in honor of John Bogle, founder of Vanguard Investments, and attracts knowledgeable, thrifty investors passionate about sharing their knowledge in a variety of topics. Anytime I descend into the rabbit hole of a forum thread, I find myself wiser for the time invested. Students need to know where to go for reliable, credible sources for financial information.

I thought your students would benefit from this thread titled “College-bound teens and finances,” since it takes a holistic view on how to set up a young person for financial success from a parent’s perspective (other people’s parents which probably helps:) Here was the opening question on the thread: 

23Mar, 2017

Interactive: What Do Americans Earn Per Hour?

By |March 23rd, 2017|Career, Current Events, Interactive, Question of the Day, Research|

Simple interactive from CNN shows the percentage of jobs at a given wage range and as you rollover a given wage band you see a list of representative jobs with their hourly wage and annual salary (note that data is from May 2013 from Bureau of Labor Statistics):

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 10.25.25 PM

Questions for students:

22Mar, 2017

Question: What Percentage of the Money Supply Is In Physical Coins and Currency?

By |March 22nd, 2017|Uncategorized|

Answer: About 10% of the $60 trillion of money worldwide.

Hat tip to Big Picture Blog for the idea for this blog post. They had a guest on their podcast, Yuval Noah Harari, who had this to say about money:

Harari describes money as a “collective fiction.” He notes that the total value of money worldwide is $60 trillion dollars, of which a mere $6 trillion is in cash or coins. This means 90 percent of all money is nothing more than entries in a computer server. Money, says Harari, is a “faith based object,” whose value is derived by the shared narrative about its worth.

This idea of a faith-based object explains the importance of trust in banking relationships. When that trust is lost, as in the case of this national bank that opened unauthorized accounts, customers vote with their feet.

Ask most people what percentage of THEIR money supply is in coins and currency and I’m guessing they would put it at a much lower percentage. Who carries cash today anyway? Kinda makes you wonder…


Interested in this money theme? Here is a video your students might like (with questions): How Much Money Have Humans Created?

22Mar, 2017

Video: Suburbs and Cities: Why Do We Live Where We Do?

By |March 22nd, 2017|Budgeting, Mortgages, Purchase Decisions, Research, Video Resource|

Hat tip to Big Picture blog who brought this well produced and engaging 10 minute video to my attention. It provides an historical perspective on how cities developed and the factors that determine where people live in in the U.S. compared to Europe. This would be a good supplement to your budgeting lesson as housing costs tend to be the largest expense so where you live is consequential:

Questions for students:

  • Why did cities in Europe develop differently than those in the U.S.?
  • Where do rich people tend to settle in European cities? Why? How is it different in the U.S.?
  • What factors led to more suburbanization in the U.S. compared to Europe?
  • What is the unintended consequence of this move to the suburbs in the U.S.?
  • Where would you prefer to live: the suburbs or a city? Why?


Check out the most popular NGPF Activity: Create A Salary-Based Budget

21Mar, 2017

The FED Raised Interest Rates At Their Last Meeting…How Much Will That Cost Credit Card Revolvers (in Billions)?

By |March 21st, 2017|Credit Cards, Current Events, Math, Question of the Day|

Answer (from MarketWatch based on NerdWallet analysis): $1.6 billion

From MarketWatch:

The Federal Reserve raised its target range for federal funds by a quarter percentage point to 0.75%-to-1% on Wednesday, and signaled two more rate increases in 2017. Put another way, this increases how much banks will be charged to borrow money from Federal Reserve banks. (The Fed raises and lowers interest rates in an attempt to control inflation.)

I know some of you are trying to figure out how that decision from the Federal Reserve translates into higher costs for credit card revolvers. Here is the transmission mechanism:

21Mar, 2017

The D-Word: Differentiation!

By |March 21st, 2017|Teaching Strategies, Tips for Teachers|

Just a few weeks back, NGPF Fellow Maureen Neuner and I had a great phone conversation (we’re always saying — “Contact us! We love to help!” Maureen can attest it’s true) about the “D” word. DIFFERENTIATION! Love it or hate it, every good teacher’s got to do it, and Maureen and I were discussing specifically how to differentiate in the fin lit classroom.

I spent 4 years teaching algebra and geometry, often to students who really struggled with math, and then I spent another 6 years as a school admin in a school with tons of challenges, so differentiation was always a priority. Here are two ideas I’ve seen work in my own classroom:

  • Run 3 table groups simultaneously, with an appropriately leveled activity at each one. The key: Each activity enforces the same learning concepts
    • As the teacher, start off sitting with the most struggling group so that you can model as needed and give no one the excuse of not working at all “because I don’t understand.”
    • Move on to the middle group to make sure they’re not stuck and struggling too much, and help them with trickier aspects of the activity, or use your time with them to review
20Mar, 2017

Wrong Question: Should College Students Be Required to Take A Personal Finance Course?

By |March 20th, 2017|Financial Literacy, Personal Finance, Policy, Question of the Day, Research|

Kudos to WSJ for asking the question and getting opposing viewpoints on the answer to the question. I am having trouble containing myself so I thought I better get my thoughts down on paper before I explode. First, the newspaper is asking the wrong question. The right question is “Should High School Students Be Required to Take A Personal Finance Course?” College is too late. The biggest financial decision that young people make occurs BEFORE college. Those decisions are “where are they going to continue their education?” and “how are they going to pay for it.” I received way too many calls in my days at Student Lending Analytics from sobbing students and their parents about their predicament of high debt and “I am only a junior.” As we know student debt has a long tail to it and has ramifications far into the future. It is that much harder to course correct several years into one’s college career. 

20Mar, 2017

Investing: What Can Investors Learn from Warren Buffett’s 2016 Letter to Shareholders?

By |March 20th, 2017|Article, Behavioral Finance, Current Events, Index Funds, Investing, Stocks|

I heard a great conversation today with Roger Lowenstein, former WSJ columnist and Author of Buffett: The Making of An American Capitalist, America’s Bank and When Genius Failed, on the Masters in Business podcast. When asked about how he learned about investing, he mentioned how much he had learned from reading Warren Buffett’s Annual Letter to Shareholders. I thought I would dissect his 2016 Letter and share his often folksy advice in an abbreviated format (the letter is 29 pages long).

I thought you might find these insights useful:

  • Two things to keep in mind during market declines which captures the psychology of investing (not his use of the phrase “sit for an extended period”):