Roseau High School educator, Katie Hedlund, strategically integrates tech into her classroom to make her Personal Finance course interactive and engaging. Katie has been teaching business education for 11 years, reaching up to 200 students each year with her Personal Finance, Accounting, Career Investigation, Marketing and Computer Application courses.
Students attend the University of MN - Crookston each year for their Business Day Competition.
Although seniors at Roseau High School are required to take an economics course, Katie believes that it's beneficial for students to take a dedicated personal finance class to get a deeper understanding of money management basics. While it is not a required course, 85% of students at Roseau High go through Katie's year-long elective Personal Finance class before graduating. She uses her dedicated Personal Finance course to cover topics including budgeting, saving, credit, debt, investing in retirement, insurance, life after college and taxes.
At the UMC Business Day Competition, students are given a business situation to practice making marketing and financial decisions to achieve the largest return on investment.
"It's a life skills class that everyone needs, and my school recognizes that it's one of the most important class students will take," explains Katie, who feels fortunate that her school administration is adamant about getting students into her Personal Finance class.
Strategically integrating tech into her classroom makes her course more interactive. By using games and apps, she enhances the learning environment, giving her students experiences that they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to, such as the stock market and investing.
In Katie's Marketing course, students run Taste Test activities to evaluate how marketing can impact consumer decisions.
In 2014, Katie won a $10,000 Toyota grant and brought in a classroom set of iPads and a stock ticker. "This year I raised nearly $10,000 from local businesses and individuals to bring a financial literacy wall into my classroom. This ‘digital wall' allows us to dig deeper into learning about investments, the stock market, and retirement planning," explains Katie.
The interactive TV screen, installed just this year, is used to monitor the stock market and set a watch list for various investments to teach the importance of diversification when investing. The class turns the activity into a competition, tracking who's in the lead and evaluating why they're succeeding. In the personal finance lab, students practice building an investment portfolio, watching their investments grow and learning how to reinvest.
During Financial Literacy Month in April, juniors and seniors from Katie’s Personal Finance course teach 1st and 2nd graders about saving and opportunity cost.
To celebrate Financial Literacy Month in April, Katie plans activities that bring in students from the wider school. This includes a financial "question of the day" that is posted on her classroom Twitter account, @mrshedlundclass. Students can come into her classroom to take a shot at the correct answer for the chance to receive a prize.
Her students especially enjoy hands-on activities, which let them connect to the real world and incorporate personal finance skills into their daily lives. As a class activity, high school students also mentor 1st and 2nd graders by teaching them the concepts of saving and opportunity costs, giving them the opportunity to share what they have learned. Katie brings in speakers from the community, such as local banks, insurance agents and financial planners to talk to students about these fields.
Students visit a local elementary school during Fin Lit Month to teach younger students the basics of money skills.
Outside of the classroom, her students have competed in multiple financial literacy events. For the last four years, her teams have advanced into the Minnesota State Personal Finance Decathlon. This year, students participated in the Concordia College investing game for local high schools, winning 1st place out of 100 teams and earning $500.
To measure the success of her program, Katie uses investing competitions, a personal finance decathlon, and pre- and post-tests. These tests help to gage where students are at and what areas they may need to dedicate more time to covering. For example, students typically need to spend more time on credit to understand complex topics such as avoiding debt and making smart loan choices. "I have results for the last four school years showing large increases in their knowledge base in the areas of personal finance," says Katie.
Personal Finance students plan out their financial lives by decade in ares including career, home, family, retirement, etc.
Although many students in Katie's courses have not been introduced to personal finance topics at home, she encourages her students to have open conversations with their parents about money.
After experiencing how personal finance topics can sometimes go over the heads of 9th and 10th graders, Katie has discovered the optimal grade for her course to be 11th and 12th graders, since they are closer to having a job, car and checking account. "I'm able to get on a deeper level of understanding with juniors and seniors; they are able to see the real world aspect of it," explains Katie.
Two of Katie's student teams have qualified for the MN State Personal Finance Decathlon at the Federal Reserve bank in Minneapolis during the past 4 years.
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Katie Hedlund for her ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy at Roseau High School.