Students were given a percent project a couple weeks back. In this project they were given an hourly wage and using this hourly wage they had to calculate their annual gross income, annual net income (using current tax brackets), create a budget, determine the type of home they could (or could not afford) and then adjust to handle an “unexpected life event”.
When I first handed out the project and gave students their hourly wage and job, they were immediately invested. It was as if they had just been hired into the workforce and this was their new way of life. I chose students jobs and handed them out strategically so that students were given an hourly wage that would result in a gross income where they could successfully calculate their net salary. Stronger students had more tax brackets than those that struggle, which allowed everyone in the room to find success in this project.
Students learned why we pay taxes, and how this system works. In addition, they learned what type of job they would need in order to live the lifestyle they would like to. In creating their budgets and shopping for homes, students witnessed first hand how quickly money can be spent.
At the end of the project, students were given an “unexpected life event”. These were things that are difficult to plan for, that can really offset a budget and cause a family (or person) to struggle financially. When students received their life event, they went nuts. It was as if these tragic things were actually happening to them.
From the beginning to the end, this was not a project where students were going through the motions because it was an assignment and they had to. Instead, the students embodied their role in society, wanted to see what their finances would look like and how this affected their quality of life. Finally, they collaborated with peers to analyze their unexpected life event and problem solve various solutions on how they could make adjustments in their daily life to account for this event.
This is easily one of my favourite projects as a teacher. I love seeing the kids excited about math. It’s easy to get students to buy into a project when they can see that it has real life implications.
Until next time,