by Beth Kotz

The typical high school curriculum covers a tremendous breadth of information on a wide range of topics, yet personal finance is rarely among them.

Finance and banking conceptConsidering many high school students will soon be college students, ready to take on student loans, open bank accounts and learn how credit cards work, perhaps it’s time that money management takes on a more prominent role in high school classes.
If you’d like to incorporate personal finance into your lesson plans, here are seven free resources to help get you started.

Practical Money Skills

It’s no secret that students learn more effectively when they’re excited and engaged with a lesson, and the Practical Money Skills website tries to boost engagement by wrapping its lessons into slick, interactive games that cater to students of all ages. All the basic skills of financial literacy are covered, from simple money management to good debt practices, and the site also features additional educational materials and resources. Grade-appropriate lesson plans are also available for teachers.

FinEdChat

The brainchild of Brian Page, a nationally-recognized personal finance and economics teacher from Ohio, FinEdChat is an effort to boost engagement and encourage financial literacy education. The centerpiece of this effort is the FinEdChat blog, which features an abundance of useful information and resources for teachers interested in incorporating financial education into their lesson plans. Page also operates the informative FinEdChat Twitter account, and the “#FinEdChat” hashtag makes it easy to keep track of the latest developments in financial education at the high school level.

OnGuardOnline

Sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission, OnGuardOnline offers a powerful toolkit aimed at educating students on how to protect themselves and their sensitive information online. Students can play games that teach them how to recognize phishing attacks, how to respond to a hacking attempt and how to differentiate between what information is and isn’t safe to share. The site also provides educators with a variety of games, lesson plans and other tools to use in the classroom and share with parents and the community at large.

Budget Challenge

Few things are more important to a child’s financial future than learning how to create and manage a budget. As an educator, you can use budget simulators to teach the importance of creating a budget, balancing a checkbook and handling other important duties in a fun and engaging way. Budget Challenge offers a comprehensive simulation that accomplishes just that, and it even includes a mobile app so students can stay engaged on the go.

Financial Literacy Month

Created by a group of financial experts at Money Management International, Financial Literacy Month is a 30-day program intended to give people of all ages the tools needed to lead a successful financial life. Although Financial Literacy Month officially begins on April 1, the 30-step program can be incorporated into a curriculum at any time of the year to serve as a roadmap to financial literacy. The initiative also includes an assortment of worksheets, educational materials and even a personalized certificate to keep students motivated.

Finance in the Classroom 

Though originally created by the Utah State Board of Education, Finance in the Classroom is a versatile resource for teachers, students and parents across the country. The website provides an assortment of course outlines, activities, lesson plans and other resources for teachers as well as interactive games and other tools for students from kindergarten through grade 12. For teachers in Utah, the platform also includes professional development tools, boot camps and other activities.

Online Personal Finance Games 

Surveys have shown that more than 91 percent of children play video games, making games an exceptionally useful platform for reaching students and engaging them directly with their lessons. Personal finance games like those from Commonwealth, Gen i Revolution and Practical Money Skills turn games into powerful teaching tools to educate students on everything from basic accounting and budgeting to investment and retirement savings.

Though an increasing number of states are beginning to require some form of personal finance education at the high school level, many high schoolers still graduate without having obtained the skills necessary to manage their finances. Educators are in a great position to make an impact and teach financial literacy, but they need the tools to do it effectively. The free resources above provide exactly that, offering games, activities, plans and other information that will engage students and leave them far better equipped to handle the world that awaits after graduation.

Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.

No school budget for field trips? Here are 50 places in Georgia you can take your class for free. We divided these destinations into three categories: Science, Social Studies, and Other. Please let us know when your school visits one of these sites.

Science:

AlbanyRadium Springs Gardens One of Georgia’s seven natural wonders, Radium Springs gushes forth 70,000 gallons of 68-degree water per minute from an underground cave.

AthensBear Hollow Zoo The zoo is home to a variety of non-releasable wildlife. An intimate zoo with fewer than 30 species of animals.

AthensGeorgia Museum of Natural History Explore these 14 natural history collections: Archaeology, Arthropod, Botany Herbarium, Economic Geology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate, Mammalogy, Mycological Herbarium, Ornithology, Paleontology, Pollen and Plant Microspore, Rocks and Minerals, and Zooarchaeology.
AthensState Botanical Garden of Georgia This 313-acre preserve, with its specialized theme gardens and collections, more than five miles of nature trails, and four major facilities including a tropical conservatory, is visited by over 200,000 people each year.

Atlanta CDC Museum The museum features changing exhibits throughout the year, in addition to its permanent installations. Four temporary exhibitions are on display each year.

AtlantaFernbank Science Center Experience the exhibit hall, observatory, and outdoor gardens. Be sure to check out the teacher resources on their website.

AugustaPhinizy Center – Come see a variety of wildlife such as Blue Herons, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Otters, and Alligators in their natural habitat. Visitors can experience the thrill of hearing Kingfishers or delight in the many summer dragonflies in the Nature park.

ColumbusOxbow Meadows This nature center offers a view of the ecoregion of West Georgia and the Chattahoochee Valley, while providing access to the area’s plants and animals.

DunwoodyDunwoody Nature Center (near Atlanta) Nature center, field trip activities, gardens, resources for teachers, conservation programs, and more.

ElbertonElberton Granite Museum (east of Athens) Offers exciting historical exhibits, artifacts and educational displays. The three levels of self-guided exhibits allow visitors to see unique granite products, as well as antique granite working tools.

JacksonDauset Trails Nature Center Nature center with a variety of activities. See both farm exhibits and wildlife.

Johns CreekAutry Mill Listen to their phone audio tour to enhance your experience, and learn about the historic features as you walk along the paths.

LithoniaArabia Mountain More than 2,000 acres, two monadnock mountains, three lakes, and many historic sites. Rich with plant life, Arabia Mountain hosts five endangered plants grow at Arabia Mountain.

Locust GroveNoah’s Ark Rehabilitation This 250-acre wildlife rehab center showcases over 1,500 animals. Walk the 1-mile trail to see both exotic animals and farm animals.

MilledgevilleNatural History Museum and Planetarium A museum dedicated to Earth sciences, with an emphasis on fossils and evolution. Check out the educational resources on their website too.

Statesboro Botanical Garden at Georgia Southern (east Savannah) See the 11 acres of gardens on this early twentieth century farmstead. Wander the trails, paths, and courtyards and explore the intriguing natural wonders of the southeastern coastal plain.

St Simons IslandCanon Point Preserve Over 600 acres managed by the Nature Conservancy. Be sure to check out the lesson plans on the website.

Social Studies:

AndersonvilleCamp Sumter Prison (north-west of Cordele) The Camp Sumter military prison in Andersonville was one of the largest Confederate military prisons of the Civil War.

AtlantaFederal Reserve Bank Discover the story of money—from barter to modern times. Learn about the history of banking in America and see examples of rare currency.

AtlantaGeorgia State Capitol Offers both guided and self-guided tours of this 120+ year old building.

AtlantaGovernor’s Mansion The tour is a hybrid of a guided and self-guided tour. Docents are stationed in each room to teach you about the items.

5f236a2c-1dd8-b71b-0bae828d6336ce0dAtlantaJimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum The museum showcases photographs and historical memorabilia from the Carter presidency. A replica of the Oval Office and gifts received by the Carters are also on display.
AtlantaThe King Center See Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr & Mrs King’s crypt, Dr King’s birthplace, and more.

AugustaAugusta Canal Built in 1845 for power, water, and transportation use, it is the only industrial canal in the American South in continuous use.

ChickamaugaChickamauga National Military Park (north of Dalton) Learn about the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign with the 1,400 monuments and historical markers on these battlefields. Don’t miss the indoor exhibits, either.

ColumbusThe Columbus Museum One of the largest museums in the southeast, it is unique for its dual concentration on American art and regional history. Offers a variety of educational programming, interactive gallery opportunities, school programs, and teacher workshops.

ColumbusNational Infantry Museum Thousands of artifacts, monuments, interactive exhibits, and video presentations make the National Infantry Museum, one of the nation’s leading military history destinations.

DaltonPrater’s Mill Heritage Park Peek into the heritage of rural, northwest Georgia. See a working 19th-century grist mill, a cotton gin, general store, wildlife, and more.

DuluthMcDaniel Farm Park This farm has been restored to depict a typical 1930s farm in Gwinnett County. See the farmhouse, barn, blacksmith shed, carriage house, and tenant house.

KennesawKennesaw Mountain Battlefield A 2,965 acre National Battlefield that preserves a key Civil War battleground of the Atlanta Campaign.

KennesawMuseum of History and Holocaust Education See a number of World War II exhibits, and learn about the museum’s educational programs and resources.

MaconMuseum of Aviation Twenty or more aircraft are on display in one of the nation’s most popular Air Force museums.

MaconOcmulgee National Monument Ocmulgee is the ancestral homeland of the Muscogee (better known as Creek) Nation, who now reside in Oklahoma.  See the mounds that were constructed for the elite members of their culture.

MariettaMarietta Fire Museum A collection of items used by the Marietta Fire Department since the 1800s, including vehicles, clothing, equipment, antiques, photos, displays, and more.

McDonoughHeritage Park Veterans Museum The museum showcases vehicles, uniforms, and artifacts, a display of the two Henry County Medal of Honor recipients, and a Henry County Fallen Hero area.

MorrowNational Archives at Atlanta Over 180,000 cubic feet of microfilm and textual records, as well as maps, photographs, and architectural drawings.

Sandy SpringsAnne Frank Exhibit Over 500 photographs and a replica of her room are used to tell the story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who hid with her family from the Nazis.

SavannahSavannah Belles Ferry See Savannah’s historic harbor with a free ferry ride.

St Simons IslandFort Frederica British forces defeated the invading Spanish near here in 1742 to ensure Georgia’s future as an English colony.

Other:

aimee_photos11AlbanyThronateeska Heritage Center Thronateeska’s campus includes a history museum, science museum, railcar display, the Georgia Museum of Surveying & Mapping, and the South Georgia Archives.
AtlantaAtlanta Contemporary This museum’s ever-changing exhibits feature consequential artists from the local, national, and international art scenes.

AtlantaMuseum of Papermaking This internationally renowned resource on the history of paper and paper technology features a collection of over 10,000 watermarks, papers, tools, machines, and manuscripts.

AthensDodd Galleries The galleries’ programming and five exhibits examine the cultural and social contexts around us while challenging contemporary perceptions of art making.

AthensGeorgia Museum of Art With over 10,000 objects in the permanent collection alone, this art museum has something for everyone.

AthensLyndon House Arts Center Come see the generous number of unique exhibits in this art museum. Includes work from local artists.

AugustaWestobou Gallery The gallery offers curated exhibitions by national, regional, and local artists, with a focus on emerging and mid-career contemporary and experimental artists.

DuluthHudgens Center for Art & Learning The Hudgens Center displays rotating exhibits with works from their private collection, as well as local artists and guest curators.

LilburnMandir Temple Enjoy beauty and discovery at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – a Hindu temple that showcases exquisite Indian design and workmanship.

RomeOak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum Tour the Oak Hill house and see the art gallery and temporary exhibitions in the museum.

SavannahCathedral of St John the Baptist This 19th-century Catholic cathedral is said to be one of the top 10 historic sites to visit in the United States.

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this list is not an endorsement or intended to be representative of USATestprep or the author’s views.

 

USATestprep just released an enhancement for students who are retrying missed items.

Why? After hearing feedback that students didn’t see the retry button and accidentally navigated away from the page, we made the retry opportunity more obvious.

What’s the change? Immediately after submitting an activity which allows a retry, students will see the option to retry with very clear buttons — YES or NO. We also state that this is the only chance they have to retry.
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For those of a certain age, a box of 64 crayons- the one with the sharpener in the back- represented the apex of childhood happiness. While slogging through days of teaching my 9th graders about Medieval Europe, I’d often long for the carefree days of just coloring away in my Batman activity book as a kid on my grandmother’s back porch. But childish pursuits are behind us and our high school scholars.

Well of course they aren’t.

One school in California is finding the childhood pastime to be a great way to relieve stress in for students, particularly the high-achieving ones. A recent article in School Library Journal detailed Valencia High School’s efforts to reduce student- and staff- anxiety through the simple act of coloring. According to Joy Millam, the school’s teacher librarian, coloring relaxes students because it “requires single-minded focus, while its structure makes it soothing.”

This should remind all of us to take stock of the stress levels of our kids. The demands on them are great, often greater than they let on or than we know. Academics, athletics, extracurriculars, relationships, all of these pile on kids who often lack the coping tools for these burdens.  Finding a productive way to help them vent those tensions- whether through coloring or some other activity- could not only help them focus, it could benefit the entire learning environment at your school.

For the whole story on Valencia High School, check out the article here.

kirbyAbout the Author
Kirby Spivey taught AP World History, US History, and numerous other Social Studies courses in Georgia. Mr Spivey currently leads USATestprep’s Social Studies content team. He and his wife live in Atlanta and own several coloring books.

  • The filter and gradebook load separately — previously, the filter and gradebook loaded together, which meant a teacher had to wait for the entire gradebook to load, only to change the filter.
  • The filter is always expanded (no more Filter Grades link).
  • If teachers have any hidden assignments, the message is displayed below the gradebook.
  • More tweaks to the gradebook are coming, but this is a nice start!

usatestprep-inc-online-state-specific-review-and-benchmark-testing-1-2

  1. If you allowed multiple attempts for an assignment, the highestdownload score will display automatically in your gradebook — there is no filtering required. If you allowed students to retry missed items, then click the “Show Grades” link and change the grades filter from Original to Retest.
  2. Assignments taking a long time to load? The Assignments tab just got a lot quicker! With more user-friendly filters and sorting capabilities, it is easier to find the assignments you want. Thedownload-2 Assignments tab updates results every 15 minutes. If you need results sooner, click on the refresh arrows at the top of the Completed column.
  3. The class Progress Report now includes all types of activities, including performance tasks, vocabulary practice, puzzles, and videos. All options are checked by default, so use the gear icon in the top right corner to customize what data you want to see for each standard, as well as to set a specific date range.download-1

If you’re up against the clock, you may feel as though planning your essay is a waste of time. Surely it’s better just to sit down and get writing? Not so. If you plan an assignment properly, you can remove a lot of the pressure. After all, you’ll have the roadmap to your work laid out in front of you. Here’s 7 tips to help you get the best structure for your assignment.

  1. Plan your paragraphs

Every paragraph in your essay should have a clear point to it. Write a clear topic sentence for every paragraph you plan to include, and think about how you’re going to describe your ideas. Will you compare and contrast ideas, list sources, or present a solution to the problem?

  1. Link your paragraphs together

Once you know how your paragraphs are going to read, you need to know how to link them together. You want them to all work together in order to back up your main argument. Look for a theme in your plans so far, as you can use that in your links. Use linking words such as ‘Similarly’, ‘Consequently’, and ‘Outcomes included’ to show you’re about to move onto a new idea.

  1. Use your word count as a guide

Your word count will be a good indication of how much detail you’re expected to go into. 500 words will be an overview of a topic, 1000 words will want at least one idea fully explored, and 2000 words will need much more dissection of the topic at hand. If you need a hand keeping to your word count, use a tool to keep you on task.

  1. Keep on top of your grammar

When planning your assignment, you’ll need to make sure that you can get your grammar spot on. Good grammar is the basis of good writing, so it needs to be perfect.

  1. Make sure you’re citing correctly

In the planning stages, you’ll be bringing all of your research together, so you can start to formulate an argument. Before you do so, make sure you have all of the right citations for your work. If you fail to include them, you could lose marks or even be accused of plagiarism. Make sure that you have the right citations by using a tool.

  1. Get the formatting right

Every university and every professor will have slightly different requirements for formatting, so read your assignment brief to find out what you need to do. This can help inform you of the layout of your essay.

  1. Use the ‘three parts’ rule

Every good assignment will have a three-part structure. There will be an introduction, the main body of your argument, and the conclusion. Essentially you’re telling the reader what you’re about to say, then you’re saying what you have to say, and then you’re reiterating what you said. If you have these three parts, you can be sure that you’re covering all the main points.

If you follow these tips, you can get an excellent essay plan written. Then, all you have to do is follow it to get the best essay written. A good plan can save a lot of stress and hassle when you’re writing, so give it a try.

mary-walton-200x200Mary Walton is an online tutor and proofreader from Santa Monica. She lived in Australia for 10 years and gained her degree in creative writing at the University of Melbourne. She’s worked with people of all ages as they’ve made their way through their educational careers, from starting to school to graduating from university.

After an in-depth process of research, evaluation of resources, critical thinking, planning, and writing, you come down to a final product that’s called research paper. This is not a simple extended essay. It’s a much more complex assignment that requires a lot of time and effort to complete.

When students face thiswall of notes type of assignment, it’s only natural for them to feel anxious about completing it. The best way to beat that anxiety is to have a rock-solid plan that will take you to a successful result. When you’re taking actionable steps towards tangible goals, the research paper challenge seems possible to tackle.

Remember: learning how to write research papers in high school will make your life as a college student much easier. You’ll be writing plenty of research papers if you plan to go to college.

We’ll give you a detailed guide of 10 steps to take towards the completion of an argumentative research paper.

  1. Be Mentally Prepared

Before you start writing this paper, you need to work on your mindset. The research paper is a huge challenge. However, your teacher already covered the topic in general and you do have a foundation of knowledge. You’ll only need to locate relevant information, come up with a thesis statement, and express your arguments in the paper. You can do it!

  1. Define the Purpose of Your Research Paper

Your teacher gave you guidelines or a research paper question. Now, you need to define your point of view, which you’ll translate in a thesis statement. The guidelines are usually general, so you’ll have to narrow them down.

  • Even the most boring topics can be approached from an unusual angle. Find a point that interests you and use it as the foundation of that assignment. If, for example, the general instruction is to write a research paper on global warming, you can pick a narrow theme: how it affects rainforests or an animal you love.
  • By the end of this step, you should come up with a thesis statement. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should have it as the foundation of every following step.
  1. Collect Sources

Now, it’s time for the hard work: the research process. You can use only reliable information from books, journal articles, interviews, encyclopedias, and authoritative web pages.

  • If you really want to impress your teacher, you should use books. Visit the school library!
  • Use Google Scholar to find resources you can use.
  • You don’t have to read them all at this point. Just briefly examine them to see if they are relevant to your topic. At the end of this stage, pick at least five sources that you’ll explore in details and you’ll use in the research paper.
  1. Read, Categorize, and Document the Information

Read them! Take notes on how you plan to use the information from those sources in your paper. How do they support or defy your point of view? Make sure to note down where each idea is coming from.

  1. Write an Outline with Proper Structure

An outline will keep the discussion organized around the main thesis statement.

  • Organize the outline according to your teacher’s instructions. The paper should have an introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Plan what you’ll write in each section of the paper.
  1. Start Writing the Body Paragraphs

You might think that the introduction is the best place to start, but that’s not true. It’s recommended to start with the body of the research paper. At this point, you have a thesis statement, but you can manipulate it as your ideas progress.

  • Start with the body paragraphs and follow the outline, but don’t be afraid to alter it along the way.
  • Make clear points and support them with evidence from your sources.
  1. Write the Conclusion

Now that you’ve exposed your arguments and supported them with evidence, it’s time for the conclusion. This should be a brief summary of your findings. The reader should have a complete impression. Don’t introduce any new ideas here.

  1. Write the Introduction

Read through your paper. How would you introduce it to someone in few sentences? This is exactly why we positioned the introduction as the 8th step of this guide. Now, you can introduce your arguments in a believable way that gets the attention of your reader.

  1. Write and Format the Bibliography

It’s important to reference all sources you used. If your teacher didn’t give instructions on proper referencing, you can find and follow the guidelines for APA, MLA, or Chicago styles. Choose the one that’s suitable for the topic’s area of study.

  1. Edit the Paper

Congratulations! You have your first draft. Now, it’s time to polish it out. Read it thoroughly and improve the logical flow. Don’t hold back to get rid of some parts if they are not necessary. If you feel like you need to add more information, do it at this stage.

Finally, you’ll do a final proofreading and your research paper will be ready to go.

Research paper writing seems easy when you read about it, right? In practice, it’s a complex process that requires full focus. That’s why it’s important to practice and start early. Start today!

Chris Richardson is an editor and a blogger. He is passionate about writing, traveling, and photography. Chris loves to meet new people and talk about modern education and technologies. 

As of today:

  • Benchmark answer keys will have the correct answers bolded and italicized (in some browsers).
  • The following changes have been made to USATestprep’s “Assignments” tab:
    • Group assignments won’t load until you click to expand.
    • Pagination
    • Ability to hide the filter
    • If a filter is set, the Filter Assignments link is formatted.
    • No more “Grades” button; now all buttons say “Results”
    • Settings modal will show if a student has taken an assignment — and if so, they cannot be removed from the assignment.
    • Edit button grays out for a group assignment if there are results.
    • Completed column does not update in real time (every 15 minutes), so there’s a refresh icon to instantly retrieve results.

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Thank you to the more than 5,100 students and teachers who took USATestprep’s March Survey. Our new arcade game, Test Drive is the reigning favorite with students by a large margin!

favorite gamesAre you including games as part of your group assignments? 81% of teachers told us they assign games at least sometimes with their group assignments.  And yes, we heard you: over 86% of you said you would like more games to assign to students.