Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Financial Literacy

As we look at the statistics that are compiled by financial institutions each year, it is easy to see the trend that each year Canada's individual household credit crisis is getting worse.
Also, each year, students leave Ontario high schools without any financial literacy course or minimal financial literacy knowledge. 
It is a common question from students in all senior classes, "Why don't we learn more about personal finance"? I don't even think the students grasp the entirety of what personal finance is. Students are financially illiterate if they do not get the knowledge from home. There is so much more than just paying off credit card debt, or looking for your best interest rate options to save money. 
Yet, with the crisis and increasing debt, there is no course taught to students in Ontario high school students which could cover so many different areas of financial literacy. In my opinion, we make students take half credit courses in careers (many quizzes and personality tests) and civics. Students have options to take courses that really have to impact on their future, yet they do not have the chance or choice to take a financial literacy course. It is something that all students, no matter gender, or ethnic background should be entitled to take.

Financial literacy is applicable to all because it gives students of both genders and different ethnic backgrounds a good base on how to make the correct financial choices. These course does not have to be meant to make all students wealthy; however it can do a good job of giving students a base knowledge on budgeting with their incomes, and staying out of debt, negotiating a better mortgage rate, paying off your mortgage faster and thus saving you thousands of dollars, plus investing and saving. Different options such as stocks, and mutual funds. TSFA, RRSP, RESP's for children. Students do not leave high school with the knowledge of how to file their own tax returns, which with technology is easier than ever. There is so much that students could take with them if a financial literacy course were available to them.

Now, is financial literacy the solution to the credit crisis? I know that the idea mentioned would not solve the crisis, but I believe that by teaching those basic solutions to all young adults in secondary school, we would be giving a wealth of knowledge on how to make key personal financial decisions. Financial literacy may not help all people avoid debt, but a better understanding may limit some debt to at least be manageable.

I believe the young  are more likely to face credit problems. Advertisements and technology and wanting to have it all is what they are faced with at all times, so teaching financial literacy at a young age may help young adults understand the ‘nuts and bolts’ of credit. Don’t spend more than you make is not as easy as it sounds for all students.

Does anyone have anything else to offer on this? Any thoughts on how we, as educators in math, could bring financial literacy to each student?

Canada’s fall in Math Education Ranking Sets off Alarm Bells

It is unfortunate to pass on the bad news, but Canada has dropped out of the top 10 international math education standings. Canada placed 13th overall in mathematics, which is down three spots from 2009, and six spots from 2006. The survey is performed every three years and measures how well 15-year-olds around the world are doing in math, reading, and science. It is believed that the math curriculum put in place within the past decade is the cause of the lower scores. Why you ask? Well, more emphasis is being placed on real world concepts, rather than abstract thinking and practice. In fact, the top performers in the survey had more exposure to formal mathematics than word problems. Our poor international performance also raises concern for the country’s ability to innovate and produce in a global economy. How you ask? A lack of math knowledge early in school can discourage students from pursuing it in university. Employers say that they are facing a shortage of qualified applicants with math and engineering backgrounds. Believe it or not, Quebec is Canada’s leader in math for the reason that the teachers in the province have studied math during their training. By doing this, they have developed a confidence in teaching the subject.

The Ministry of Education has been taking steps toward this as I recently came across an email offering a subsidy of $450 to teachers who successfully complete a math AQ or ABQ, and are currently employed by a school board. Unfortunately, I am not currently employed by a school board so I cannot make use of this subsidy. May you can! As teachers pursue AQ and ABQ courses as options for professional development, their confidence in teaching the subject will increase.

Do you think we will rise in standings the next time the survey is conducted in 2015? Or do you think we will continue to drop in the ranking? What is your opinion on how we can raise math scores on an international level?

Standard Deviation Lesson for MBF3C Class

I'm well into the One-Variable Statistics unit in the 11 college course. Most students are doing well, able to calculate mean, variance and Standard Deviation. 
However, I've been running into many problems trying to get the students to understand the meaning of Standard Deviation and how it could be applied to use in Statistics. 
Whenever I get into trouble with a topic, I tend to try and relate it to sports as much as possible. Helps me teach it a little bit better, and most students, especially those that watch sports, understand a little better. 
I came up with this question to see if it would help students gain a better understanding of SD. I've had some feedback from a peer, and would like to see if there are any other ideas out there to tweak this question or help use it in class. So far results have been pretty good, but any other ideas would definitely help more. 

This question will relate to the starting lineup for a major league baseball team and their pay:

The Detroit Tigers starting lineup had the following end of season batting averages from 2013:  
.237, .256, .265, .274, .279, .289, .303, .312 and .334
If the owner of the Detroit Tigers pays his starting lineup’s salaries based on last year’s batting average, how much will his payroll be if he pays on the following scale?
                                                              i.      $10 000 000 to each player within +3 S.D of the mean batting avg.
                                                            ii.      $7 500 000 to each player within +2 S.D of the mean batting avg.
                                                          iii.      $5 500 000 to each player within +1 S.D of the mean batting avg.
                                                           iv.      $3 000 000 to each player within -1 S.D of the mean batting avg.
                                                             v.      $1 750 000 to each player within -2 S.D of the mean batting avg.
                                                           vi.      $750 000 to each player within -3 S.D of the mean batting avg.

Any thoughts out there on improvement to this question? 

Mathematics and TeacherTube - Using Videos for Learning

I came across this video when I was on YouTube and I cannot get the song out of my head so I thought I would share. It is a really catchy, upbeat song that emphasizes all the different ways we use and interact with math in our regular lives.
I think part of the reason I really enjoy it is because it speaks directly to two things I attempt to incorporate into my teaching. I enjoy using videos, songs, games, and any number of different approaches to materials to catch and keep student engagement in learning. I am also a huge fan of making learning relevant to students in any way I can, again to maintain their engagement in learning, and I have found connecting the classroom learning to the 'real world' is a very effective way to do this.
This video also led me to discover the TeacherTube Math channel on YouTube. This channel has a ton of videos directly related to math and to teaching math. They also have a main website that addresses many other subjects and teaching areas, TeacherTube. A lot of their videos address specific math concepts and different ways to approach them, but they also have many more that fall into the same category as the original video I posted - little hooks that will help engage students in their learning. Videos such as Mrs Wilsons Integer Cheer or Score are class created that you can show students for interest and engagement or as an example when challenging students to create their own math and learning video.