Introducing the New and Improved Katrina's Classroom

A lot has changed over the last nine years since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Technology advances have changed the way we bank and the way we pay for things. New consumer protection regulations have changed the rules for credit and debit cards. Free tools like online calculators are available to help us make better decisions about our finances. Greater access to real-time tuition rates and student loan options make students more informed about postsecondary education options designed to help them reach their career goals.

The new and improved Katrina's Classroom curriculum incorporates all of these new developments, and more. It includes activities that meet the Common Core standards while building on the personal stories of the three teenagers and their families who are featured in the Katrina's Classroom videos.

The lessons, which have been completely rewritten, use hands-on learning strategies to teach students about personal finance concepts. They also use online tools and resources to help students apply what they've learned and connect their learnings to important life-skills tasks. Each lesson ends with a writing exercise or project-based assessment.

Each lesson segment is presented in multiple formats so you can select what works best for your classroom. Each segment includes:

  • Detailed procedures for the high-quality, rigorous lessons appropriate for high school students.
  • SMART Board and PowerPoint presentations to supplement the full lesson procedures.
  • A narrated PowerPoint presentation to provide teachers with an overview of the lesson content.
  • An interactive "Test Your Knowledge" quiz.
  • An expanded resource list.

The new lessons meet the requirements of several components of the Common Core Standards. Activities in the lessons allow students to work in groups or individually and give them opportunities to write, research, report, graph, calculate, and evaluate as well as to support a position, make decisions, and reflect on what they've just covered. Lessons are also correlated to the Jump$tart National Personal Finance Standards.

Lesson One: Emergency and Financial Preparedness
Students create plans and set goals, explore risk management, determine their wants and needs, practice good decision making, and identify their opportunity costs. Additional activities following the main lesson allow educators in other disciplines to use the video and core lesson concepts in their classrooms.

Lesson Two: Important Financial Documents
Students learn the financial documents that they need in an emergency. They explore the benefits of establishing a relationship with a financial institution, evaluate several types of financial institutions, and practice basic financial tasks such as selecting an institution, choosing an account, writing and endorsing checks, completing a check register, and reconciling a bank statement. In addition, students learn about new banking technology, including online banking, mobile apps, and banking by text.

Lesson Three: Access to Credit
Students learn the benefits of having access to credit in an emergency. They calculate simple interest, learn about different types of credit, evaluate a credit card offer, explore the components of a credit score, and study the effect that a credit score has on the cost of credit. A web quest helps students become familiar with consumer information websites that can guide them as they build up credit and create a credit history.

Lesson Four: Human Capital
Students learn the benefits of developing their own human capital. They explore postsecondary education options, the costs of financing postsecondary education, the importance of budgeting and saving to achieve financial and personal goals, and ways to prepare for financial emergencies. The lesson culminates with a realistic, comprehensive expense tracking and budgeting project.

You can find the complete revised lesson plans and supplemental pieces on the Atlanta Fed's Katrina's Classroom web page.

By Claire A. Loup, Economic and Financial Education Specialist with the New Orleans Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

March 5, 2014