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Teaching Money Applications to Make Mathematics Meaningful Grades 7- 12

Elizabeth Marquez and Paul Westbrook
Corwin Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Mark Bollman
, on

When I work with future teachers in my Mathematics for Elementary Teachers class, they often put together lesson plans dealing with money, on the sensible grounds that this concrete application will help draw their future students into learning mathematics. In Teaching Money Applications, we find that same mindset taken to the second half of the K-12 curriculum.

This is not a textbook; it falls more under the heading of a “resource guide” for teachers interested in infusing some lessons on money into their mathematics lessons. Toward that end, it is organized around financial topics rather than mathematical concepts, which gets a bit confusing at times. For example: The first chapter, which deals with buying a car, starts out with some simple arithmetic calculations and then leaps into quadratic regression of miles per gallon figures — with a graphing calculator used as a “black box” to perform the regression. Chapter 2, on savings plans, then is back doing only straightforward arithmetic.

To the authors’ credit, they have resisted the temptation to “black-box” every complicated statistical calculation. Correlation coefficients, for example, are calculated (for small data sets) with tables of values and the standard formula with all of its sums. The applications are good ones, with clear importance to students’ futures — savings plans, credit card debt, and taxes are all covered. The book then goes on to include a brief discussion of simple economic principles and what goes into a business plan, thus helping to drive home the message that mathematics is a subject that finds its way into all kinds of professions.

In the hands of a careful teacher, this book could be a fine addition to a middle or high school math class.

Mark Bollman ( is an associate professor of mathematics at Albion College in Michigan. His mathematical interests include number theory, probability, and geometry. His claim to be the only Project NExT fellow (Forest dot, 2002) who has taught both English composition and organic chemistry to college students has not, to his knowledge, been successfully contradicted. If it ever is, he is sure that his experience teaching introductory geology will break the deadlock.


Foreword by Charlotte Danielson
Math Locator
About the Authors
1. Cars, Cars, and More Cars: Paying for Your Wheels
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: Basics of Buying Cars
Teaching Example 1.1. Car Costs
Teaching Example 1.2. MPG Plus
Teaching Example 1.3. Buy or Lease
2. Savings: Reality Check and the Difference Between Needs and Wants
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: Basics of Savings
Teaching Example 2.1. Budgets and Savings
Teaching Example 2.2. Future Value: A Geometric Sequence
Teaching Example 2.3. Annuities: A Geometric Series
3. Credit Cards and Debt Management: Using Credit Seems Unreal
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: Basics of Credit and Debit Cards
Teaching Example 3.1. Calculating Minimum Monthly Payments
Teaching Example 3.2. Credit Card Payoff: A Spreadsheet
4. Investments: The Basics and More
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: Basics of Investments
Teaching Example 4.1. Stock Prices and Percents
Teaching Example 4.2: Analyzing Graphs of Stock Prices
Teaching Example 4.3. Statistics of Stock I: Measures of Center, Standard Deviation, Normal Distribution
Teaching Example 4.4. Statistics of Stock II: Weighted Average, Correlation, Line of Best Fit
5. Buying a House Versus Renting: How Much Will It Cost?
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: Basics of Buying a House and Renting an Apartment
Teaching Example 5.1. Budgeting for a Down Payment
Teaching Example 5.2. Determining Mortgage Payments: Tables, Formulas, Spreadsheets
Teaching Example 5.3. Principal and Interest Functions
6. Taxes: How They Work
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: Basics of Income Taxes--Federal and State
Teaching Example 6.1. Income Tax and FICA
Teaching Example 6.2. Capital Gains and Losses
Teaching Example 6.3. How Uncle Sam Uses Tax Dollars
7. Economics: Supply and Demand, Inflation, and the GDP
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: Economics, Supply and Demand, Inflation, and the GDP
Teaching Example 7.1. Supply and Demand Functions
Teaching Example 7.2.: Inflation and the GDP
8. In Business for Yourself: Business Plan and Break-Even Analysis
NCTM Standards Applied in This Chapter
Background: In Business for Yourself--A Business Plan and Break-Even Analysis
Teaching Example 8.1. Starting a Business: Pro Forma Income Statement
Teaching Example 8.2. Revenue, Costs, and Break-Even Points
Selected List of Formulas
Excel Spreadsheet Hints
Money Glossary