Innovative ideas and programs are what turns information into learning. Meet our Innovative Educators – dedicated professionals who have found new ways to teach practical money skills in the classroom.
Joanne CanigliaKent State University
Joanne Caniglia's enthusiasm for teaching is so contagious, it's hard to believe she has been doing it for 30 years. She began her career teaching business education and finance in a high school in Ohio, then moved on to teach higher education at Eastern Michigan for 15 years and the last five years at Kent State. Joanne teaches a Future Teachers Math Education methods class at Kent State, but what fuels her passion is a special financial literacy course she leads for a group of special needs college students.
Two years ago, Kent State received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to determine how students with special needs can succeed and benefit from a college education. "We discovered that the Practical Money Skills website is one of the few online resources that offers materials using 'universal design' – a method of teaching special needs students that helps them learn a subject in different ways," Joanne explains. "Many of my students are still below grade level in math and teaching them about money has not only increased their standardized test scores but also given them more confidence in dealing with real-life issues such as going to the store or eating out."
Joanne says the website offers numerous ways for her students to learn about money, from reading The Avengers comic book, to playing the Financial Football video game, to taking online quizzes. She also relies on the site's educator resources, including student worksheets, ready-to-go PowerPoint presentations related to different units, apps and calculators, and student assessment tools. "I think it's the most wonderful program," Joanne says. "It uses national standards to measure the levels of math and finance in each lesson." She also mentions that details such as large spacing on the website and utilization of worksheets work well for her students' penmanship needs, and that the materials are clean and very simple to read and understand.
Joanne encourages using practical, interactive, creative and real-life simulations to teach students about money. She is eager to share a video that one of her students, Krista Strumm, recently produced about saving money. Joanne concludes, "When these students show progress and learning, more doors are open to them and they are given more opportunities. I love working with students with developmental needs. We are always looking for different ways for them to learn beyond just reading – such as technology and art."
Currently, Joanne is working on two big projects with her students. First, she wants every student to create a portfolio of financial goals and resources (e.g., where they can get their credit score) so they can refer to it long after the class is over. Secondly, her class has teamed up with students from the Finance Department to start up a small company that makes flannel hats and scarves. The goal is to get the students from both classes to learn and interact with each other in a business and personal setting that also teaches entrepreneurship and accounting.
Practical Money Skills would like to commend Joanne Caniglia for her ongoing efforts and commitment to financial literacy education at Kent State.
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