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Financial Education for Everyone

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April 17, 2018

Sandra Hartman

Voorhees High School
Glen Gardner, New Jersey

Accommodating every students' learning style and comprehension level can be a challenge for any educator. Sandra Hartman, teacher at Voorhees High School, takes a unique approach to this challenge in her Financial Literacy class, utilizing a variety of creative online learning tools to allow students to learn at their own pace.

Currently wearing many hats as a Business, Family and Consumer Sciences and Personal Finance teacher, Sandra pays particular attention to her finance class knowing that it's a crucial topic for getting ahead in life. She is currently the FBLA, Consumer Bowl and Asian Culture club advisor and member of the NJ Future Ready Schools Task Force. Among her certifications include Level 1 Google for Education Certified Educator, Flipgrid Certified Educator, CK-12 Certified and Edpuzzle Level 1, 2 and Coach Certified. Within her class, Sandra emphasizes three key topics: budgeting, credit and debt.

"Budgeting is all about managing money. If you can successfully manage your money, everything else will fall in place," Sandra states. She goes on to explain that every other financial transaction stems from whether you can successfully budget your money. In order to teach this lesson to her class, Sandra uses the H&R Block Budget Challenge online simulation to supplement her lessons.

Sandra Hartman

Caption: Sandra walks her students through an online lesson.

Once she walks her students through the budget lesson of the day, she has them sign on and play the H&R Block Budget Challenge simulation, which puts what they learned to the test and solidifies the lesson. Students learn to pay bills, fill a paycheck or read an invoice. She recognizes that everyone has different learning speeds, so while the simulation is a required part of her class, she only offers the activity as participation. This takes the pressure off of her students, and allows them to truly learn at their own pace. If students finish early, she lets them play other educational games such as Visa's Financial Football.

Sandra loves when her students realize how much taxes take from their salaries because it teaches them lessons that not everyone learns early in life. She likes to follow up with these realizations by saying "welcome to the world of adulting!"

During the credit card and debt lessons, her students learn important lessons, such as the impact of taxes on their salaries. Sandra uses the H&R Block Budget Challenge to help students get a sense of how much they should spend using their simulated credit cards. Students learn to try to limit their credit card charges to less than 30% of their available balance.

Sandra also turns to educational sites like Practical Money Skills to supplement her lessons. Utilizing the Insert Learning Google Extension, Sandra adds quick quiz questions and has her students annotate and add notes to the articles to supplement the reading. A few of the programs that Sandra utilizes are Nearpod, Pear Deck, Canva, Flipgrid, Edpuzzle and more.

Sandra Hartman

Students in Sandra’s Financial Literacy class utilize a wide variety of online learning tools.

When the students work on their final projects, Sandra offers her students choices in the way they present the information they learned. For class projects, they have an option of different formats ranging from basic written reports, collages, to infographics or comic strips. Sandra explains that these choices allow students to learn and be creative in different ways. This teaching style pushes students to be original and provides flexibility in how they learn, which helps them truly master the lessons.

Sandra's passion and effort to cater to all learning styles with her unique lesson plans makes an impact, as graduated students continually reach out to her through social media to express their gratitude for teaching them such valuable lessons. She believes that mandatory requirements for students to learn financial literacy in school is needed to improve the financial literacy of youth across the country.

During her thirteen years of teaching, whenever she holds parent-teacher nights the single most common comment she receives from her students' parents is "I wish I had this class when I was in high school."

Practical Money Skills would like to commend Sandra Hartman on her ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy at Voorhees High School.

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