Tips for Teachers

//Tips for Teachers

Guest Blog from Sue Suttich: “401(k) = Cha Ching!”

When she was at Summer Institute 2016, NGPF Fellow Sue Suttich told us about the “Cha-Ching” policy she uses in her classroom. Now, as a follow-up, she’s providing all of you with this catchy strategy she implements throughout the year to help her students remember the most important personal finance concepts. Thanks for sharing, Sue!

Let Them Tell Stories Too…

download (3)As educators, we know the power of storytelling in the personal finance classroom. What better way to bring an abstract or dry topic like compound interest to life than to explain how $10,000 you invested in your IRA in your 20s was now worth $30,000 today due to gains in the stock market compounded over many years. There is even research that shows that student recall concepts better when told as a story as compared to a lecture (from Bryant and Harris):

The use of storytelling allows lecturers to engage students in a dynamic and enthusiastic way while encouraging students to develop a higher order of thinking and recollection. Storytelling allows the lecturer to show their interest in the material and in the students. Lectures can utilize the art of storytelling to communicate expertise and transfer information. This paper empirically examines the effectiveness of storytelling as a means of increasing student intrigue and recollection. We find that students recall a statistically significant 6.5% more of the storytelling lecture than those students who were exposed to the text book lecture.

Yet the focus when we talk about stories is usually on the teacher and yet…students have their stories and advice to share also. I was reminded of that today at Eastside College Prep., where we are beginning our 6-week course with the senior class. The discussion was about savings and why it can be so difficult to save. A student shared how she had a weak spot for her “hobbies” which she described in further detail with one word: shoes. I dug a bit deeper to understand more about her habits and she proceeded to say something along the lines of this:

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks Spreadsheets with Educator Jeff Shirey of Avonworth Middle/High Schools (PA)



Thanks to Jeff Shirey of Avonworth Middle and High School (Pittsburgh, PA) for joining the NGPF podcast recently. In addition to being an accomplished salsa dancer outside the classroom (his living room has a dance floor), Jeff is a spreadsheet whiz inside the classroom. I became aware of Jeff’s work through this news story that focused on his passion for spreadsheets. Jeff shares his insights on favorite projects, how he introduces spreadsheets to his middle schoolers and how he differentiates instruction for his more advanced students. You will certainly walk away with some ideas on how to incorporate spreadsheets in your classroom. Enjoy!


By |January 17th, 2017|Current Events, Podcasts, Teaching Strategies, Tips for Teachers|

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks To HS Educator Jonathan Joseph About Weaving Sports into His Economics Course


Happy New Year! I am excited for another year of podcasts (and hope that you are too). This week’s guest, Jonathan Joseph, is an award-winning Economics and personal finance teacher at his alma mater, White Plains High School in White Plains, New York (proving that you CAN go home again!). He shares his secrets to engaging ALL students through an innovative curriculum he built which uses examples from sports to demonstrate economic principles. Who knew the NFL salary cap would find its way into a high school classroom? You will also learn how he develops empathy for his students starting on day one and how he uses this to create a class that addresses their economic anxieties.


NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks With “Rock Star” Educator Brian Page of Reading High School (OH)


What does an extraordinary educator do during their one-year sabbatical away from the classroom? If you are Brian Page, star educator at Reading High School in Ohio, the answer is “a lot of things.” In his return visit to the NGPF podcast, Brian shares how he spent his year away from his beloved classroom. You will learn why he has come back to the classroom even more energized (which, for those of you who know Brian, is saying something) and eager to implement new ideas to engage his students. I encourage you to keep up with Brian on his Twitter feed @FinEdChat. Enjoy!


  • 0:00~2:25 – Introduction
  • 2:25~4:05 – Brian’s role at Budget Challenge
  • 4:05~8:57 – Instructional design/lessons
  • 8:57~10:13 – Finding scholarships
  • 10:13~11:55 – His creative process
  • 11:55~15:59 – A week in Brian’s class
  • 15:59~18:03 – Explaining the FAFSA
  • 18:03~

Long-Form Reading: How to Achieve Your Long-Term Goals!

Dan Ariely is an award-winning author, professor at Duke University and wonderful explainer of behavioral economics (and someone I look forward to meeting on Monday night!). I came across this interview with him on this great website on (I love that they estimate the time needed to read it, which is 14 minutes).

Here are some snippets I found applicable to our work as educators:

On why it is so difficult to be motivated by long-term goals (we have all struggled with this when we talk 401(k) plans with high schoolers):

If You Only Had An Hour To Teach Communication Skills….

….use the activities described in this workshop as a foundation.

Your personal finance class provides you with an excellent opportunity to develop your students’ communication skills. You can give your students practice on making persuasive arguments during a debate or perhaps, how to effectively present their recommendations using one of NGPF’s case studies. Many teachers wonder how to provide a foundational lesson in communication that students can utilize as a framework throughout the course. Well, I stumbled upon one this morning that your students will love.

The title of this workshop is “Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques.” I have summarized the 58:19 workshop below and listed the four activities that the speaker, Dan Abraham, demonstrates to build that communication “muscle.” He also provides techniques about how to overcome those anxious feelings that almost everyone feels leading up to their public speaking opportunities.

Notes from the workshop:

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks to Ami Amero, A Financial Literacy Mainiac


Thanks to Ami for joining me on the NGPF podcast for the second time (we had to scrap the first one due to a bug in the recording software). No, that’s not a typo in the title but rather a play on Ami’s home state of Maine. Ami teaches at a small school (listen to hear how small the school is), Forest Hills Consolidated in Jackman, and is passionate about getting more financial education to Maine students. She shares the thought process that went into designing her course, how she teaches about careers beyond Jackman and how she implements her favorite project, which students still talk about years later. Enjoy!


  • 0:00~1:21 – Intro
  • 1:21~2:03 – Where Ami teaches
  • 2:03~8:20 – What motivated Ami to create a personal finance course
  • 8:20~11:56 – Top three lessons Ami wants to teach her students
  • 11:56~14:38 – How she uses the book “The Millionaire Next Door”
  • 14:38~16:31 – Importance of