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When Reality Strikes -

A Project Based Learning and Financial Literacy Course

from STEM Qwest-6-weeks 

Course Description

When Reality Strikes: A Project Based Learning and Financial Literacy Course from STEM Qwest is a project-based (PBL) learning course that incorporates technology applications, mathematics, critical thinking, financial literacy skills, reading comprehension, and written expression while students examine what it takes to create and balance a personal budget.  Who doesn’t love to have the power to make their own choices? Throughout this PBL, learners choose their career, car, house, and plan a house warming party. 

Learners will examine various career paths and will evaluate real life data such as average salary, housing, transportation, and food costs. Reading articles, answering comprehension questions, and creating written response discussions focus on topics related to age appropriate personal finance.

During each week of this 6-week course, students are provided weekly math and reading comprehension assignments.  They may choose which grade level (4th-5th or 6th-7th) of work to complete. Advanced students can choose to work on upper level content, or students needing more practice can work on lower level content. Or better yet, students can choose to do both grade levels!

Course Details:

Math practice will have a strong focus on real-world, word problem application with a financial literacy theme. Why? Because the world presents math as real life not just as algorithms! These word problems are, dare I say, FUN! Math assignments are worth 12 points.  

Students will have a weekly financial literacy themed article to read with four comprehension questions. Reading assignments are worth 8 points.  

Each week, students will engage in a Weekly Financial Literacy Task, 20-points are provided for engaging in the Weekly Financial Literacy Task.

Every student should have access to a reliable internet source to participate in this class. Students will engage in weekly discussion activities. Discussions posts and replies to weekly discussion assignments will be made to the online discussion forum in the online Canvas classroom for the course. Weekly, 10-points are available for participation in the Discussion Forum.

Students will complete one module per week. Modules unlock on Monday mornings. This is to encourage students to A) spend plenty of time adding their own ‘style’ to their Weekly Financial Literacy Task and B) to see and comment on the Tasks the other Budgeters are completing in class. Students are highly encouraged to learn from one another! 

On average, students will complete 4-6 hours of math, reading and written response lessons, discussions, and completing their “Financial Literacy” task each week. 

What Weekly Financial Literacy Tasks will students focus on each week?

  • Week 1: Explore careers, which career will you pick?

  • Week 2: Discover housing options, how much can you afford? Will you rent or buy a house? 

  • Week 3: Search vehicles, are you a car, truck, or scooter kind of gal/guy?

  • Week 4: Examine food/grocery expenses, how much do people you know spend on groceries per week?

  • Week 5: Party Preparations!!! Over the next two-weeks you will plan your house warming party to welcome your family and friends to your new home.

  • Week 6: Party Time!!! We will celebrate by sharing our party plans and end with a final wrap-up

Prerequisite Skills: (anchor charts/supportive materials will be provided for mathematical problems)

Mathematics topics addressed include: real world word problems involving geometry/measurement, data analysis, use of the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), and money (all money problems will use dollars and cents).

At a minimum, with or without support, students should be able to:

  • solve one- and two-step word problems by adding or subtracting three-digit numbers which may require regrouping or borrowing across zero (ex: 601 – 511 or  509 + 972). 

  • use multiplication and division within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems (ex: Nina can practice a song 5 times in an hour. If she wants to practice the song 75 times before the recital, how many hours does she need to practice? 75÷5=? Or  ? X 5=75 )

  • add and subtract two fractions with different numerators and different denominators, add and subtract mixed numbers with the same denominators

  • solve one- and two-step word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies (use addition and subtraction with decimals to the hundredths place)

  • identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes. 

  • find areas of rectangles and perimeter of polygons (least three straight sides)

  • Apply the volume formulas V= l × w × h for rectangular prisms

  • Represent and interpret data from a bar graph, pie chart, or line graph



Prerequisite Skills:

Reading Comprehension and Written Expression objectives and activities include: exploration of various financial literacy related articles and sites, focusing on identifying key ideas and details in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences, determining main idea of a text and using details from the text to support the main idea, and determining the meaning of general academic words or phrases in a text relevant to our subject area. Students will interpret information presented visually or quantitatively (in charts, graphs, diagrams, and/or animations on web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text.  Students are expected to engage in discussion posts and short answer questions by writing in complete sentences with beginning capital letters, ending punctuation, using capital letters for proper nouns and the personal pronoun “I.”

At a minimum, with or without support, students should be able to:

  • read and comprehend text at a minimum of a 4th grade level 

  • compose a sentence with a beginning capital letter, ending punctuation, and capitalize the names of proper nouns (specific people, places, or things) and the letter “i” to represent yourself.  Supportive constructive feedback will be provided for written mechanics.  


Course logistics:

This course will follow a “flexible schedule” and does not have scheduled online meetings. This flexible schedule allows students to work at any time, 24/7 for the duration of the 6-week course. Thus, keeping all students working at a similar pace but not requiring them to attend a set online class meeting time.

Each Monday morning (12:00am Pacific) the tasks for the week will be unlocked and available to enrolled students via the free online Canvas portal.

Instructions on how to access the Canvas online classroom will be emailed prior to the start date of the course. The weekly checklists include reading notes, watching video lessons, completing math practice problems, completing financial literacy tasks, and posting to the online classroom discussion forums.

The teacher will participate in the online discussion forums to provide feedback and can always be reached via email and through Canvas. To stay on track, students should follow the provided pacing guide each week of which tasks should be completed each day (Mon-Fri). There is generally about 1 hour of work per day. Students should be sure to complete the weekly tasks before the next week of tasks are unlocked to stay on track.

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