In this first lesson, students are introduced to the goals and objectives of the unit and begin building their "Sims" families.
Mathematics > General
Mathematics > Applied Mathematics
Mathematics > Estimation
Mathematics > Number Sense & Operations
Social Studies > General
Social Studies > Economics
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Materials for this specific lesson:
For this lesson, the teacher will need to have researched the median family income (MFI) for their area. They should generate a list of incomes, ranging from the poverty line to $200,000 and containing a majority of incomes at the MFI. They will cut these up and have student choose them at random in order to assign incomes for the project. It is important that the distribution of incomes mirror closely a normal distribution (i.e. very few high and low incomes, a lot of "middle class" incomes clustered around the MFI). These incomes are only gross incomes, as students will research their own net income. See Lesson 1 Resources for an example.
In this lesson, students are creating and personalizing their "Sims" families. They will need to keep track of several important worksheets that will serve them over the course of the unit. The primary, and most important, worksheet is the attached Family Budget Worksheet that will serve as a reference for them throughout the project. Once distributed, it should be affixed in a very accessible place in their folder (preferably as the first page in the bound section).
The teacher should begin by explaining the goal of the project, which is to help students practice Pre-Algebra skills in the context of "real life". To do this, each of them will have their own Sims family. Additionally, in order to give the class a better taste of what "real life" is like, and to encourage discussions on income distribution and poverty later in the unit, not everyone's income will be the same. In fact, the distribution of incomes will mirror (as closely as possible) the actual distribution of incomes in the students' geographic area. It is essential that the teacher reinforce the idea that this is NOT a competition, where the student with the most money at the end "wins". Rather, the goal is for students to enjoy themselves and to take this as seriously as possible, trying to make a life for their family that they would want themselves.
Once each student has an income, distribute the Presentation of Your Family worksheet. Have students enter their gross yearly income in the blank provided. Using the digital projector, walk through the process of determining the family paycheck for a fictitious annual income. Highlight where the students should look for their net monthly pay and highlight where that needs to be entered on the Presentation worksheet.
Next, point out the question about taxes. Lead a brief discussion about payroll taxes, payroll deduction, and the difference between gross and net pay. Elicit from the students how they would determine how much they are being charged in taxes each month.
Next, point out the question about yearly net income. Highlight the fact that their paycheck only gives them their monthly net income. Ask them how they would arrive at their yearly net income. Find this together for your fictitious income. As a formative assessment, ask them to explain the difference between the fictitious gross yearly and net yearly incomes.
This should mark the end of the first day's instruction. Student homework should be to complete the Presentation worksheet at home and be ready to present their family (in general terms) during the next class period. It is also imperative that students print out a copy of the paystub and place it securely in their portfolio. The teacher should encourage the students to be creative with their families, drawing pictures or finding pictures of their spouse and children, if they so desire.