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July 8th, 2009
You Can Take That to the Bank!
Lesson Overview

(Click here for a printer-friendly version of this lesson.)


TOPIC / SUBJECT MATTER: Economics, Finance, History

TIME ALLOTMENT: 2-3 45-minute class periods

Using video segments from the PBS series THE ASCENT OF MONEY, this lesson teaches high school students about the role of banks both in history and the present day. Students will learn about key financial concepts that contributed to the evolution of banks. Those concepts will then be applied to modern banks and the services they provide. As a culminating activity, students will be introduced to the concept of creditworthiness.


By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
• Define the terms “credit” and “interest”
• Explain the evolution of money lending to banking
• Detail the role of modern banks and the services they provide
• Analyze criteria banks use to determine creditworthiness
• Understand the roots of the modern banking system
• Recognize how personal choices and decisions affect one’s creditworthiness


National Standards for Economics
Standard 4: Role of Incentives

• People respond predictably to positive and negative incentives.

Standard 5: Gain from Trade

• Voluntary exchange occurs only when all participating parties expect to gain. This is true for trade among individuals or organizations within a nation, and among individuals or organizations in different nations.

Standard 10: Role of Economic Institutions

• Institutions evolve in market economies to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Banks, labor unions, corporations, legal systems, and not-for-profit organizations are examples of important institutions. A different kind of institution, clearly defined and enforced property rights, is essential to a market economy.

Standard 11: Role of Money

• Money makes it easier to trade, borrow, save, invest, and compare the value of goods and services.

Standard 12: Role of Interest Rates

• Interest rates, adjusted for inflation, rise and fall to balance the amount saved with the amount borrowed, which affects the allocation of scarce resources between present and future uses.


Clip 1:

Establishing Credit, Earning Interest

Clip 2:

Borrowing Time

Clip 3:

First Bank of the Medici

Access the streaming and downloadable video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

CitiFinancial: Resource Center: All About Credit
This Web site from Citibank details criteria for granting a loan or issuing a credit card.

What’s Up in Finance? It Costs What?! Credit Card Primer
In this learning interactive from THIRTEEN, users learn about the basics of using credit cards.

What’s Up In Finance? It Costs What?! Case Files
In this learning interactive from THIRTEEN, users read about and understand different ways of dealing with credit card debt.


For each student:
• Creditworthiness Student Organizer (PDF) (RTF)
• Weekend Trip Invitation (PDF) (RTF).

For each pair/group of students:
• Chart paper and markers
• Computer with access to internet

For the class:
• Creditworthiness Student Organizer Answer Key (PDF) (RTF)
• Bank Services Answer Key (PDF) (RTF)
• Computer with access to internet
• Projector and screen


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and Web sites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.

Make copies of the Student Organizers.

Next: Proceed to Activities

Lesson plans for THE ASCENT OF MONEY were created by the LAB@Thirteen, Thirteen’s Community and Educational Outreach Department.

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Inside This Lesson

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2015 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.