Welcome to Financial Literacy. You have the wonderful advantage of being the first students to take this course at Ardsley. What this means for you is that we will be developing some of this course together as the semester progresses. We are going to begin the course by learning the essential vocabulary of the financial world. What is a stock? A bond? A mutual fund? While we are learning new vocabulary, we will explore many of the challenges of the financial world today. Through all our work, we will be focusing on the following Essential Question:
How do individuals and businesses plan for financial success and security?
As is the case with all your courses, we will focus not only on what you know, but also on what you can do. We will work on your ability to collaborate with your peers. We will also be doing research using a variety of sources. We will work on your ability to read critically and make connections between different forms of information and different perspectives. In fact, reading is so important, it gets its own category here...
Despite its current lack of popularity, reading a book is still an incredibly effective way to learn. Therefore, much of the homework in this class will be reading books, or chapters of books. We will begin the year by reading The Wal-Mart Effect, by Charles Fishman. The story of the rise of Wal-Mart provides a great introduction to the language of business and finance. You will be assigned approximately one chapter a week to read for homework. In general, you will need to annotate the reading (on the page or with post-its) and you will be assessed with a reading quiz.
Below is are the units we will study and some of what we will focus on within that unit.
- Saving and Investing: Why do people save, why don’t they save and what are some of the basic investment choices.
- The Financial Markets: Some forms of investments are traded on world markets every day. How does this work and how can you make sense of the news about financial markets?
- Financial Institutions: How does a bank work and what functions does it provide in our society?
- Public Policy and its role in Finance: How is the government involved in financial markets? What are the possible public policy responses to issues like the gender gap in pay?
- Finance as the Language of Business: Ultimately a business fails or succeeds depending on whether it makes money. This can be simple, in the form of a lemonade stand, or extraordinarily complex, in the form of a global corporation. How do businesses think about money? How do they keep track of what is happening and plan for the future? How can it help you, no matter what you end up doing, to understand this part of the process?
- Independent Research Project: The form of this will depend on how the first part of the semester progresses. I have many ideas, but want to see what will suit you the best. In any case, the last part of this class will involve independent work and research, with some form of sharing the results of your work with the class.
The grading policy will remain consistent for the year. Late homework will only be accepted during 9th period the day it is due or at the start of class the following day for up to half credit. For all long term assignments, ten points will be deducted for each day it is handed in past the due date. I use a “total points” system. Each assignment will be worth a certain number of points to be specified at the time the assignment is given. Generally, homeworks are worth 5-10 points, while tests and projects will be worth about 50- 100 points. Your letter grade can be determined by dividing the total number of possible points for that assignment by the actual number of points you received.
Please come to class ready to participate. While it is up to you to decide your method of organization, please be aware that there will be numerous supplemental readings and handouts that you will need to keep organized. Therefore I highly recommend using a 3-ring binder. Please come to class with a pen or pencil, paper and all current course material, including whatever we are reading for homework.
Students are expected to do their own work. Attempting to pass off the work of another as one’s own is plagiarism. Evidence of plagiarism will lead to a zero for the assignment. Other violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to, copying homework and gaining prior knowledge of exam questions and content. Consult the student handbook for a more detailed discussion of violations and consequences. Additionally, cell phone use in the classroom will not be tolerated. Any use of a cell phone will be considered an element of cheating and be handled by administration as such.
I am looking forward to sharing the rest of the year with all of you!