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Teacher Feature

Teacher Feature

Coin A Phrase

Benjamin Franklin was a very busy man in his time!  While he was instrumental in the formation of this country as a statesman, he was also an inventor, a scientist, a printer, and a philosopher.  He was also a man of many words, particularly when money was involved.  He even wrote an entire book on this topic entitled, The Way To Wealth.

With your class, examine several of Franklin's quotes regarding personal finances.  Have your students conduct a "Think, Pair, Share" to discuss the meaning behind Franklin's words.  Assign a quote to each pair of students, allowing multiple pairs to have the same quote if necessary.  The sharing will be done twice:  first in groups according to the assigned quote, and secondly as a class.  Ask the students to think about the following questions:  "What do you think Franklin's words mean?  Why do you think he would say such things?  What does this say about the characteristics valued by the society in which Franklin lived?  Do you think it was easy or difficult for people in Franklin's time to earn money?  Would you imagine Franklin was a saver or a spender?  Why?  Think about different ways people earn money today.  Do you do anything to earn money (allowance)?  Is it easy for you to earn money?  Is it easier to earn money or to spend it?"  Discuss and record the results as a class.

Have your students write some words of wisdom of their own on the topic of money.  Review the students' ideas on the topic of earning and spending money.  Based on the students' thoughts, have them each plan and draft a quote in the style of Ben Franklin.  Provide them with ideas for a starting point such as, "Earning money is like..." or "It is as hard to earn money as..."  If appropriate for your class, structure a peer review process to allow your students to interpret and evaluate each other's work.  The final step for your students would be to illustrate the quote that he or she developed.  The work of your students can be presented in a variety of formats, such as through a bulletin board or the compilation of a book with a creative title, such as "Much Ado About Money."

This activity lends itself easily to a discussion of the use of similes and metaphors in writing.  It could also be linked in with a unit of study relating to U.S. History and The Constitution.  Teachers, have your students further explore the topic of spending money by following some of our lesson plans!

A few of Benjamin Franklin's words of wisdom regarding money

"The way to wealth depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is neither waste time nor money."

"Remember that time is money."

"A penny saved is a penny earned."

"If you can't pay for a thing, don't buy it.  If you can't get paid for it, don't sell it.  Do this and you will have calm and drowsy nights, with all of the good business you have now and none of the bad."

"If you would know the value of money, try to borrow some."

"Industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them."


The project described above reflects some of the national standards of learning as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and the International Society for Technology in Education.  These standards are listed below:

Language Arts Standards

Demonstrate competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process:  The students have the occasion to further explore the writing process by drafting and revising their own work, as well as editing and evaluating the work of their peers.  Through the writing and revision process, a teacher can evaluate his/her students' areas of difficulties, and can tailor future activities to strengthen these skills.

Demonstrate competence in the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing:  The students have the opportunity to apply their own views and experiences to their writing.  The activity allows students to develop their skills as a writer for a different type of audience than that to which they are accustomed.  Moreover, this exercise allows students to explore figurative language in order to make comparisons in their writing.

Use grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions:  By following the writing process, students will gain practice at applying the grammatical and mechanical practices used in comparative writing.

Social Studies Standards

Culture:  The students reflect on what Ben Franklin's words say about the values of the society in which he lives.  They are examining how language serves as a representation of a cultural belief.

Individual Development and Identity:  The students examine how Franklin's personal interests and capabilities (he was a hard worker and valued ingenuity and industry) are reflected in his quotes and therefore are a part of his belief system.

Production Distribution and Consumption:  The students reflect on Benjamin Franklin's values in terms of personal finances, and consider the influence that these beliefs had on his economic decisions.

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