Using Big Ideas to Explore Financial Literacy

The intent of A Sound Investment : Financial Literacy Education in Ontario Schools is to raise awareness of Financial Literacy across the curriculum. Teachers thinking about how to incorporate this directive into their already crowded curriculum may want to consider Big Idea learning modules. These units go by many names – project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, student-centred learning, constructivism –  but the key component is a backward design driven approach which allows students to focus on the part of the learning process that they do best, and for the teachers to focus on the part of the learning process for which they have the unique skills and experience.

In Teaching the Digital Native, 2010, Prensky breaks that down thusly:


  • Find and follow their passion
  • Use whatever technology is available
  • Research and find information
  • Create presentations in text and multi-media


  • Ask the right questions (The Big Ideas) –  can be student/teacher
  • Guide, provide ongoing feedback
  • Contextualize material
  • Individualize (learning styles, needs, interests)
  • Create rigor and ensure quality

Criticial Thinking is

  • Evaluative – judgements
  • Criteria and evidence based
  • Reasoned and reflective

So let’s examine what this may look like in practice. Suppose your class wanted to participate in a Greening the Schoolyard project. What initial discussions could you have? The cost of trees vs plants, soil, labour, tools, community support all are rich conversation prompts and provide opportunities to integrate financial literacy. Next you would probably discuss how you would raise the money. A bake sale prompts discussion on what is the cost of baking cookies, how do we maximize profit and other their other ways to earn money that would be more suitable.

What other cross-curriculum activities that you are already doing can you enrich with discussions about real-world costs and implications?


About barbaramworks

Educational ICT Consultant at Ottawa District School Board, Thinker, Blogger, Presenter, Youth Advocate.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.