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Teacher Feature

Money Mathematicians

In the same way that athletic competitors work to strengthen their skills, students often work tirelessly to strengthen their academic skills.  As a way to explore your students' growth and improvement, conduct your own Money Math Olympics to reflect what your students have learned in class.


First decide on three skills that your students will learn during your class' money unit, such as adding coins, figuring change, or developing multiple coin combinations.  Once you have taught the first skill, conduct a "Time Trial" to see how accurately each student can complete a related task.  Give your students a set of related money math problems and a time limit.  Once the time is up, have your students grade their own papers as you read the answers aloud.  Have your students keep track, in their math journals, of the number of problems they were able to solve correctly.  Repeat this same type of "trial" several days in a row to gauge your students' improvement.  Repeat this activity, challenging them to demonstrate the other two skills you have selected.

Once you have completed the unit of study, hold a Money Math Olympics with your students.  Break your students into teams of three (these should be composed of students with different levels of math proficiency).  Once in their teams, have each student decide with which of the three skills they feel most comfortable (each team member should choose a different skill).  Each student will complete a time trial for his or her selected skill.  The number of correct answers for each student's skill test will be tallied and added to the scores of his or her other team members.  At the end of the competition, the teams with the 3 highest scores will win Money Math Olympic medals.  Supply the rest of your students with certificates of participation in the Money Math Olympics!


During this activity you may also want to have your students graph their results on a line graph that will show any improvement or difficulties they may be having.


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:

Mathematics Standards

Number and Operations, Problem Solving, Representation:  Depending on the skills you are testing with your students, you may touch on any one or all of these mathematical standards. Your students are required to solve problems by performing a variety of mathematical operations, using coins.

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