ALEX Lesson Plan


Understanding Your Paycheck!

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Connie Morrow
System: Lauderdale County
School: Rogers High School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 29418


Understanding Your Paycheck!


This lesson is for students to understand  forms to be filled out when beginning their first job. Further it is an analysis of the paycheck. Systematic deductions will be analyzed to gain an understanding of the purpose from the perspective of the employee.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
LOE (9-12) Latin Level III
1. Use Level III Latin grammar and syntax to read original works by authors of Latin prose and to write Latin prose.
grammar and syntax--supine, diminutive, correlatives, enclitics, syncopated verb forms, impersonal verbs; rhetorical figures, including anaphora, hyperbole, chiasmus, polysyndeton, asyndeton, simile, litotes; perfect and pluperfect subjunctive, independent subjunctives, conditional sentences, subordinate subjunctive clauses, including cum clauses, anticipatory, fearing, indirect question, indirect command, substantive result clause, characteristic, relative result, proviso, clause of comparison, doubting, hindrance, subjunctive by attraction, subordinate clause in indirect statements; vocabulary learned in the dictionary format;
authors of Latin prose--Caesar, Cicero, Pliny, Sallust, Livy
CTE (9-12) Personal Finance
6. Explain how taxes, government transfer payments, and employee benefits relate to disposable income.
  • Comparing net and gross income
  • BMA (9-12) Law In Society
    8. Critique components of national and international sales and consumer law.
  • Analyzing sales laws to determine compliance with Uniform Commercial Code
  • Comparing express and implied warranties
  • Interpreting contracts
  • Identifying the protections and penalties provided by copyright and trademark laws
  • Examples: print, music, video, software

    Local/National Standards:


    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Students will:

    Define terms associated with a paycheck.

    Point out the systematic deductions, removed from each paycheck.

    Complete sample standard tax forms required for a new job start.

    Compare the advantages and disadvantages of three methods for paying employees.

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

    Essential Question:

    Are there any situations you can think of outside of volunteer work that you would work for an extended period  of time without receiving compensation?

    Do you believe our present system of paying taxes is fair and equitable? Suggest an alternative you believe would be more simple and fair to all taxpayers.

    Should paychecks be one of the means of collecting taxes for our government?

    CTSO activity: FCCLA members announce and prepare several examples of pigs for "The Piggy Bank," competition for National Financial Literacy Week. The competition is for elementary students to promote the habit of saving from an early age. Elementary students will make and decorate a piggy bank using an empty 2 or 3 liter soft drink bottle.

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Pencil and paper.

    CD of "She Worked Hard for Her Money," by Donna Summer available at Amazon.

    Optional 5 Twister Games. Suggestion allow students to bring these from home.


    Technology Resources Needed:

    Computer with LCD projector.

    Computer with Internet access for each student.


    Preview web sites: Practical Money Skills, PayCheck City and IRS Forms.

    View excerpts from the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness.

    Establish an account with Family Economics and Financial Education for instructions to the optional Twister game activity. 


    Bellringer: Write on the whiteboard, Students write a brief summary of the message about this song, "She Worked Hard For The Money," by Donna Summer.

    Was a paycheck important to the person in this song? How long would you work with no compensation? Are there any situations where training programs would be worth not receiving pay for a job?

    Students watch excerpts from the video, The Pursuit of Happyness. This movie is based on a true story about a man named Christopher Gardner. Gardner had invested heavily in a device known as a "Bone Density Scanner." These scanners do not sell. During the process of unsuccessfully selling these scanners his wife leaves him, he loses his house, his bank account, and credit cards. Forced to live in the streets with his son, he is desperate to find a job. He takes a job as a stockbroker even though he receives no pay for his six months of training. Why is he willing to work without pay for six months?

    Reading a Paycheck

    Place students in heterogeneous groups of four with male-female, high and low academic achievers. Students create a puzzle of the terms pertinent to reading a paycheck. Use the websites Discovery Education Puzzlemaker, Puzzlemaker, or Create a Puzzle.  A list of terms and the definitions is attached to this lesson. Students may create a word search or puzzle. Make a copy and share with classmates.

    Optional activity: Play the game Where Did All The Earnings Go? at the Family Economics and Financial Education web site. This uses the twister game with questions relevant to reading a paycheck.

    Forms to Fill Out To Receive a Paycheck

    W-4 Employees Withholding Allowance Certificate. Information provided on this form determines the percentage of gross pay to be withheld from the paycheck. Students practise filling out a W-4 form by clicking on this link.

    I-9 Employment Elgibilty Verification Form. This is a form for employers to verify the elgibility of individuals for employment. This is to insure preventing hiring undocumented workers or inelgible people to work in the United States. Students practise filling out an I-9 form by clicking on the web link.

    Method of Paying an Employee

    Paycheck with a Paystub is where the employee can immediately see the deductions taken out of the paycheck. It is the most common method of payment. It is the least secure, since an employee has to deposit it in their personal account.

    Direct Deposit is where employer deposits the employees paycheck directly into the authorized financial depository institution account. On payday the employee gets a written statement listing deductions. This method is more secure.

    Payroll Card is where the employer provides a prepaid card to employees as an alternative to the paper paycheck. Most payroll cards are smart cards which have money automatically loaded onto them each pay period, with funds deducted from the account each time a purchase is made. The account is held at a financial institution in the employers name with the smart card belonging to the employee.There is always 3 parties involved in a payroll card account.

    Ask students which form of payment they would prefer and why?

    Reading A Paycheck Stub

    Students fill out the attached "Money Skills," worksheet Read and Interpret a Pay Stub to develop a better understanding of net income compared to gross income. This also emphasizes the taxes that are removed from a paycheck.

    Brainstorm as a class how the taxes are used that are deducted from paychecks. Use the Internet to visualize the sites of parks, post offices, schools, and highways. 

    Summarize this lesson by discussing the Essential Questions in the Additional Learning Objectives section.

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    Assessment Strategies

    Summary of "She Works Hard for her Money," daily grade.

    I-9 form, test grade.

    W-4 form, test grade.

    Twister Game participation, daily grade.

    Reading and Interpret a Pay Stub is a daily grade.




    Click on W-4 Form to access an on-line tutorial.

    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.