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Lesson Plans Created by TeachNet Adaptor Grants
Money! Money! Money!
Name: Meelai Chow
School: P.S. 124 Yung Wing School
Address: 40 Division Street
City: New York, NY, 10002
Original Project: Money! Money! Money!
Author: Carmen Concepcion
URL: http://teachnet-lab.org/miami/2003/concepcion.htm

How did you modify this unit for use in your own classroom?: I adapted Money! Money! Money!, which was designed for second graders, for fourth graders. Shortly before implementing this unit, my class had completed their geography projects. A publication celebration was set for the following Friday for students to present their group projects to each other, parents, and other invited guests. To help pay for the luncheon that would follow, I sent home a letter asking for donations. Soon, students would be bringing in their donations, food and other supplies that would need to be ordered and purchased. I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to have students explore the idea of budgeting money within a real-world context. This would be fun way to help students see how math is used in the real world. In addition, this would bring together several mathematical areas we have been working on, in preparation for the March standardized math test. These topics included money, estimation, using appropriate operations, and multiple-step problems. Students were grouped into fours to work on a series of activities to tackle the planning of our luncheon. See link to documents. Before they started activity #1, we discussed what would be a reasonable estimate of what each student would bring in if the letter asked each person to contribute $3-$4. This was a prerequisite since we had not collected money yet. Afterward, each group worked on figuring out the following: • How many people we needed food for • How many pizza pies should be ordered • How much money would be left after paying for the pizzas • What other items would be needed We reviewed the work and listed other items needed. Aside from the basic non-edible supplies of plates, cups, and napkins, a lot of junk food was suggested (candy, cookies, chips, and sodas). After some discussion, we came to a consensus that actual food and very little junk food should be served. The revised list now included non-edibles, low calorie drinks, ingredients for a healthier “party mix”, and ingredients for a fruit and pasta salad. The following day, each group created a budget for their assigned category of items. They used a current Pathmark circular to complete this task. But, before they started, we discussed how the leftover money could be used to buy all the items needed. With about $50 left, it was suggested that $10 be set aside for each of the five categories of items, and off they went. Some groups could not find all the items needed listed in the circular, or if they were listed, the prices were rather high. This provided a teaching moment on the importance of price and brand comparison. We discussed if there were other brands we could look for in the store or other stores we could shop in. Inevitably, some groups estimated the cost of their items, but all the groups were able to come up with a budget that stayed close to the set amount of $10. For the third activity, we walked over to the neighborhood Pathmark to shop. Groups that were responsible for creating a budget for the same category of items were put together so now we had 4 larger groups of 8’s. Each group was supervised by at least one adult chaperone. Each group had a sheet to record and keep track of items they selected as well as the cost. The subtotal for each group was close to or below $10, and the total on the receipt for all the items was below $50. Back in the classroom, we reviewed what we had done the past few days and how using a budget can be helpful. To assess their individual understanding, each student wrote about what they learned about using a budget. A day before our luncheon, small groups of students took turn preparing the pasta salad, fruit salad, and party mix. The original unit had an activity called The Big Buck Adventure Part 2. In this activity, students visited Amazon.com or eToys.com to go on a mock shopping spree with $100. They had to figure out the total amount they spent and change left, if any. This served as the motivation to incorporate a real-life situation where my students actually went shopping with a limited amount of money. It turned out to be a very authentic, hands-on way for students to explore the importance of budgeting money as well as to concretely experience how the math we do in the classroom is applicable and necessary in the real world. Throughout it all, students were involved in all aspects of the luncheon, the planning and shopping stages as well as the preparation of recipes.

List your primary instructional objectives for your students.

  Students will understand the purpose of a budget.
  Students will create and shop according to a budget for items needed .
  Students will use estimation, when necessary, for real-world quantities, i.e., determining how many people will attend the class luncheon, quantity of each item needed, and cost of items when not advertised in the supermarket circular.
  Students use appropriate computation methods to add and subtract money that is not only in whole dollar amounts.

What role did technology play in this curriculum unit?: Students visited websites to play interactive games that provided additional practice in using money in real-world contexts i.e. counting money, finding the total cost of purchases, and figuring out change in a virtual mall. The PBS site has a link to its math related cartoon called Cyberchase which has a plethora of games ranging from using estimation to measurements. The levels of these games can be adjusted on some of these sites to students’ abilities. This way even struggling students and advanced students remain engaged and participate fully. Websites include: www.apples4theteacher.com www.usmint.gov/kids/games www.mathplayground.com www.pbs.kids.org

How did you assess and evaluate student performance?: Students were assessed in both group and individual settings. Teacher observations, oral and written presentation of their budgets, and word problems related to money were used as forms of assessments. Since my mini-money unit was based on a real-world scenario of creating and using a budget to shop, I wanted to know if each group was able to purchase what was needed for our luncheon within the budget set. Some groups ended up spending less than what they estimated back in the classroom. In the supermarket, they found comparable items that cost even less than the items advertised in the supermarket circular. This provided an authentic teaching moment right there in the store that while using a budget is helpful, it is just as important to be flexible and compare prices so we get the most for our money.

Please tell us briefly about your background & teaching experience: Ms. Chow earned an MST from Pace University. This is her eighth year of teaching at P.S. 124. She has been in teaching fourth graders for the past six years.

What are your recommendations for other teachers interested in adapting this unit?: Some suggestions/recommendations: • A mini-lesson on what comparison shopping is can be helpful before the groups look through the supermarket circular to plan out what they are going to buy. • Instead of giving each group an entire circular which can have many pages and can be distracting, distribute only the section or page(s) that has products they will need to look for. • Not having enough chaperones to supervise students while in the supermarket can be a problem. An alternative to bringing the entire class to the supermarket, is to have some students volunteer to go shopping with a parent for certain items.


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