Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Please Welcome Charles Kastens



About Charles

Charles Kastens is completing his 20th year as an elementary classroom teacher in Aurora,CO. He earned his Masters in Administration in 2003, and became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2012.  He has served in a variety of Personal Financial Literacy leadership roles at the building, district, and state level.  He has recently been involved in helping revise the Colorado state social studies standards (emphasis on K-5 PFL standards) with the Colorado Department of Education. His store on Teachers Pay Teacher offers elementary teachers a wide range of resources in reading, writing, math, science, and of course, Personal Financial Literacy! He is married to his beautiful and amazing wife of almost 19 years, Christine.  They have three children, ages 15, 14, and 12. They all love the amazing Colorado nature and rooting for the hometown Broncos!

   If you were asked the question, “What do you believe are the most important standards you teach your students?” How would you answer?  Some might say language arts, a large number would proclaim math, while others would make their case for science, technology, or fine arts. For me, the answer is easy...Personal Financial Literacy.




The Power Of Economy


   Personal Financial Literacy (PFL) standards, fall under the economics (ECON) branch of social studies.  While ECON standards teach students how money works within our country and around the world, PFL focuses on helping students understand how to use their financial resources.

   No matter what our students grow up to be...a doctor, construction worker, teacher, computer scientist, or stay-at-home-mom, each and every one of our students is going to have money they will have to manage as an adult.  This is a fact that cannot be overlooked.



Hitting Home


   The reason these standards are so near and dear to me are because of my own financial struggles as a young adult.  Being raised by a single-mom, money was tight.  We lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and saving was never modeled.

   Upon graduation from college, I was staring at what seemed an insurmountable amount of student loan, car payment, and credit card debt.  Fortunately, I eventually married a wonderful woman who possessed the financial skills that I lacked.  After realizing that what I had been doing wasn’t working, I committed to learning what I needed to know from her.

   We dug in during our first few years of marriage, and were able to conquer my debt before our first child arrived.  I am happy and proud to say that we have been debt free for over 15 years!
   Because of my story, and so many like it, Personal Financial Literacy standards have become a passion of mine.  Debt is crushing our young people and families, alike. 
 #PowerOfEcon Day
   Thursday, April 26th is #PowerOfEcon day sponsored by Econ Essentials.  It is a nation-wide event that brings educators together from all over the country to discuss the power of economics in our lives and schools.  Throughout the day, you will have the opportunity to find content and interact with economic experts on Twitter (#powerofecon).
   If you are looking to involve your classroom in this day, or are looking for an end of year project to engage your students in, I encourage you to check out my Operation: Shark Tank resource.  It is an opportunity for you to introduce the concept of entrepreneurship to your students through reading groups, an occupation interest inventory, a human capital study, and other fun activities.  
   Students conclude the unit by developing their own small business plan and create a Shark Tank type of presentation.  
Difficulty at the Elementary Level
   As an elementary classroom teacher for the past 20 years, I understand the almost impossible task of trying to fit everything we need to do in any given day.  When most teachers hear about the PFL standards, their response is typically, “What, you want me to fit in ANOTHER thing into my jam packed schedule?” or “Don’t they learn that stuff in high school?” My response is helping my colleagues realize that PFL is not something that should be separated as an individual thing that needs to be done. The key to teaching the PFL standards is integration.  
  
   For example, there are a growing number of children’s books that have Personal Financial Literacy concepts woven within the text.  I have created several Literature Circle resources that utilize these wonderful children’s literature titles, including One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, A Chair for Mama, and Uncle Jed’s Barbershop.

   These resources which can be found at my Teachers Pay Teachers store (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Ihmg-Creations), enable teachers to teach PFL standards within a language arts lesson...what a deal!

Elementary school is not too young to start teaching students these necessary life skills.  In fact, it is the perfect time to start!

Regards,
Charles






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