Mortgages and Geometric Series DAY #3

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Students will be able to apply their knowledge of a geometric series to the calculation of a mortgage payment!

Big Idea

Students will work as bankers explaining how a mortgage payment is calculated to an acting client.

Entry Set Up

10 minutes

Options, options, and MORE options with this activity!  Here is what I did, but take it and make it your own!

A few things that I would encourage prior to the day:

1)     Contact outside community members who would potentially be interested in spending a period or two with the students – obviously this is best done a few weeks in advance.

  • Any time that you can bring in a new set of eyes and ears, it really motivates the students to step up their game! 
  • I have had everyone from school board members to the mayor come to my classroom and interact with my students.
  • In this particular activity, the guests are best suited as rotating clients looking for a mortgage – the student’s job is to serve as the banker working to explain to them how a mortgage payment is calculated. 
  • If you really want to push and challenge your high achieving students, invite in a banker and have the kids present to them!  They will learn a lot by the questions that he/she asks!
  • If all else fails, parents are great to invite into the classroom to see their student’s hard work… plus, they might even learn something!  Be creative… you can even send an email to the staff at your school.  Principals, janitors, deans, and secretaries all enjoy spending time with the kids!
  • Keep a list of contacts on file – this way you can re-invite these people if they enjoyed themselves.


2)     Set up the classroom in pods of 5-6. 

  • Recall that the activity required the students to work in pairs.
  • The pods will have 2 “Active Presenters” and 2 “Observers”
    • Active Presenters:  Serve as bankers and present the mortgage calculation to the client.  They also utilize the brochure they have created and answer any questions that the client has.
    • Observers:  Observers watch the conversation and evaluate (using the Peer Evaluation Template)


30 minutes


5 minutes

As the class period draws to a close, I find it important NOT to totally cut off the students conversations at the last minute – there could be GREAT conversations going on throughout the room!  Working to save 5 minutes at the end of the class for debrief, I use the following “warning system” to hopefully gently scale back the conversations without bringing them to a screeching halt.

10 minutes left of classPlease do not start a new client presentation at this time.

7 minutes left of classPlease begin to wrap up your conversations in the next 2 minutes.  Peer evaluators, wrap up your final peer evaluation.

5 minutes left of classOk, if you will allow me to interrupt your conversations, we are going to wrap up our time together.

First, I thank the guests for visiting our class today.  Many times, I even follow up later on with a thank you letter or e-mail.  It is important to keep close ties with a wide variety of stakeholders. 

To close the class, I open the last few minutes up to the stakeholders for comments.  This is typically a great way to end on a positive because the visitors almost always  have nothing but great things to say – with a little constructive criticism mixed in…this is really good for the kids! 

As the students leave, I have them turn in their peer evaluation forms.  You will find that many kids choose to stay after class and mingle with the stakeholders whom they have made connections with though the activity.  It is really cool to see!