Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Spend a Buck

K20 Center | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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Spend a Buck

Students practice prioritizing one idea over another by evaluating their classmates' responses to a reading or discussion and "spending" up to a dollar on the response(s) that make sense to them. The more they agree with one response over the others, the more a student "spends" in support of that response.

Spend a Buck


Students are given a finite amount of resources (in this case, one dollar) to invest in their classmates' responses to an assigned learning activity. Students evaluate responses to determine which they agree with most and then spend their resources accordingly, virtually "spending" up to a buck on the response they most agree with or dividing that dollar among multiple responses. After spending their bucks, students discuss their choices as a whole class. This activity can be completed individually or as part of a small group.


  1. Students imagine they have 100 pennies or one dollar in change.

  2. Students are assigned a reading and are asked to make a summary or a response to a learning activity.

  3. All (or most) responses are posed to the class.

  4. Individuals or small groups decide how to "spend their money" by placing their imaginary money on their favorite choice(s) from the responses posed. They can "spend" all 100 pennies on the same response or divide them between their favorite responses.

  5. Students or student groups justify and discuss how they "spent" their buck.

Kagan, S. (2001). Kagan structures: Research and rationale. Kagan Online Magazine, Spring 2001. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing.