Extra credit

To teach compound interest to his Algebra 2 students and financial literacy to ninth graders, Exponential Curve blogger Dan Greene is planning a credit card project. His charter-school students would study how credit companies operate, looking at interest and tricks such as a low introductory rate that suddenly soars or low monthly payments that encourage high interest charges

Then, the students will design their own cards and draw up a credit card offer. They will then set up booths in the school one day, and the freshman College Readiness students will be asked to sign up for at least one card . . .

Then, for the next few weeks, in the College Readiness classes (who will be in their Financial Literacy unit), the freshmen will have a given job and salary, mandatory expenses, and optional expenses. They can use their credit card at will, and pay as much of their balance as they choose . . .

Then, after a few weeks of the simulation, my students will collect the data and calculate how much the freshmen owe. Whichever credit card company made the most money will get some sort of prize (maybe I’ll take them out to lunch or something). My students will use this as a springboard for the exponential functions unit, compounded interest, and so on.

He hopes students will learn math and learn to be cautious about the credit card offers they’ll get when they start college.

Some students, especially those whose parents are here illegally, come from families where nobody has a bank account much less a credit card.

You can read all about Downtown College Prep, where Greene teaches, in my book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds. If you want an autographed copy, e-mail me at joanne at joannejacobs dot com. The cost is $22 including shipping.

You can get an unsigned copy from Amazon for $17.22.

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  1. Interesting. So although his expressed purpose is to put students on guard against credit offers, the reward goes not to the student who successfully avoids being screwed, but to the one who most successfully fleeces his fellow students.

    Sounds like a different lesson is really being taught.