Jan 31, 2009

Weekend Break

I wonder if they need any econ teaches here?

Jan 29, 2009

Better Than Sliced Bread

When I look back on my teaching career I like to split it into two categories: before VE3 and after VE3. There was a time not so long ago when I spent hour upon hour scouring textbooks, the Internet and my local library looking for ideas on how to teach economics in engaging and meaningful ways. Heck, there was even a time when I asked my econ major sister if she had any good ideas on how to teach about externalities. Sadly, but not surprisingly, she had nothing for me.

All of this changed the day I attended a GCEE Virtual Economics 3 workshop. In a matter of hours I gained access to more than 1,000 outstanding lesson plans that covered every single GPS standard. Looking back on my teaching career I would have to say that the VE3 disc helped me become successful in the classroom more than any other resource.*

Do you have the VE3 disc? If not you may want to give serious thought to acquiring this amazing resource sooner rather than later. Now with more than 1,244 lesson plans, the VE3 disc can help you take your teaching of econ to the next level.

Click on the "register" link and search for a workshop location and date near you. GCEE will be offering the VE3 workshop five times between now and the end of the school year. Hope to see you at one of them!

*(other than my own brain)

Et tu, Starbucks?

OK, now this is getting serious. Even Starbucks is shedding jobs and closing shops. Starbucks! I thought they were growing like crazy? Are people now going without their morning jolt of caffeine? Can America even function properly without easy access to the daily Mint Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino blended creme with Chocolate Whipped Cream?

The news of the Starbucks slow down got me thinking about coffee. Is it a normal good? Is it a want? Is it a need? I guess it depends on your level of coffee addicition.

Jan 27, 2009

Read Any Good Books Lately?

So what books are we reading these days? I'm talking books with an economic theme of course. I just finished Pietra Rivoli's "The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy." An interesting look at cotton, markets, and the incredible amount of government intervention in global markets. Answers the question- Where does my t-shirt come from?

From time to time we will be highlighting books of interest right here on the blog. I invite all of you to post a comment and let us know what books you think the rest of us would enjoy. "Wealth of Nations" anyone?

Jan 26, 2009

The Smelliest Silver Lining

As the economy continues to contract you hear more and more stories that are quite alarming. From today's announcements, to news from last week, it is getting harder to find much good news about the economy.

Although this isn't all good news, I guess we have to take what we can get at this point.

And speaking of good news, did anyone see this story about rising home sales? Houses will sell. Maybe not at the initial prices sellers are asking, but they will sell. Makes me think of this definition. For example, if the price of this place came down about $29,800,000.00 I would buy it in a split second. Cash money. No questions asked.

Jan 23, 2009

From the Classroom vol 3

One of my favorite topics to teach is the workings of the market system. One reason is that our students are somewhat familiar with all of the concepts, if not the terminology. Another reason is that there are a couple of great, short activities to demonstrate some of the concepts.

A simulation to teach kids that trade creates wealth is certainly a must. I use a variation on Lesson 1 "Why People Trade" of Economics in Action (located on the VE3 disk). The lesson calls small bags of goodies for each student, but I prefer to customize the activity by substituting a list of things that students may find enjoyable. These range from the lead in a Broadway play, the ability to run the 40 yard dash in 3.8 seconds, to Atlanta Braves luxury boxes. The great thing is that you can customize each item according to your school, your student population, and your own sense of humor. Each student gets a small piece of paper with a different item and then we commence with the activity as described.

Another short little activity I use demonstrates the importance of property rights. In class today, we performed the paper clip simulation described in lesson 4 "Property Rights in a Market Economy," also in Economics in Action. And a nice cap to this lesson is discussing the horrid condition of the boys bathroom at school to tie the tragedy of the commons to something the students experience every day.

From the Classroom vol 2

It's what you want, but more importantly its what your students want. Relevance. Why on earth does this stuff matter? One way I like to answer this question is using economic principles to answer the mysteries located in a sometimes overlooked resource,The Great Economic Mysteries Book 9-12.

Last week we used portions of a lesson called "Why Airborne Infants Aren't Required to Buckle Up?" to explore the ideas of rational decision making and incentives. This resource has 35 lessons that explore nearly every standard. The next time you are exploring your copy of the Virtual Economics 3 disk looking for a new lesson, you might give this book a chance. Cut out copies of the clues, perhaps make up a new title that fits your personality (Why does the FAA hate babies?), dangle some extra credit for the group that solves the mystery first, and watch the students apply economic principles to real world situations.

Jan 22, 2009

Hong Kong or North Korea?

Where would you rather live? According to the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom, Hong Kong has the highest economic freedom score on the planet. North Korea on the other hand ranks dead last.

So what is economic freedom?

This is how the Heritage Foundation explains it: "The highest form of economic freedom provides an absolute right of property ownership, fully realized freedoms of movement for labor, capital, and goods, and an absolute absence of coercion or constraint of economic liberty beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself. In other words, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, and that freedom is both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. "

If you would like to learn more about this topic you can visit this link. (also included in the "links" section) It's a great place for statistics, maps and economic information. Do your students know why the US is not ranked #1 or why Albania has a higher ranking than Italy? This site will help them understand the answers to these important questions.

Economic Freedom is just one of the many topics that will be discussed at the Economies in Transition- Africa workshop on January 30th. Click on "register" for information on the upcoming Economies in Transition- Latin America and Globalization workshops.

Jan 21, 2009

Hottest Ticket in Town

That was some inauguration yesterday wasn't it? Did you watch it with your students? Hopefully you encouraged the kids to listen closely for talk about the economy. Not surprisingly President Obama's speech was heavy on econ and the many financial difficulties our country is currently facing.

If you are looking for a way to capitalize on yestereday's big event look no further than this lesson. Imagine if you were in charge of distributing the limited number of tickets to the millions of people who wanted to see the inauguration. Who would get them? How would you allocate the scarce number of tickets? Would you sell them? If so, at what price?

If it was up to me econ teachers would have first crack at the tickets!

Calling All AP Teachers

The Georgia Council is pleased to announce a new workshop for all AP (Micro and Macro) teachers. On February 19, 2009 AP teacher extraordinaire Gary Petmecky of Parkview High School will be conducting a one day workshop on all things AP Econ at the Gwinnett County Professional Learning Center.

Gary will be focusing on economic theory, AP grading methods and what he learned at the 2008 National Conference for Teachers of AP Economics in Richmond, Virginia. To register just click on the "register" link. It's that easy. Hope to see you there.

Jan 16, 2009

Hyperinflate This!

Can anyone break a 50 BILLION?
(Zimbabwe today)


Want to get a really interesting economic conversation going with your students?

Step 1- Tell your students you think sweatshops are a good thing. They will probably look at you as if you are crazy or mean or heartless. (they probably already think this anyway, right?)

Step 2- If they are opposed to sweatshops ask them to explain why they are against them. Have your students explain who is being hurt by sweatshops.

Step 3- Have your students read this.

Step 4- Have the conversation again.

Jan 14, 2009

It's Workshop Season

Have you looked at the list of workshops the Georgia Council has planned for the next couple of months? Click on "register" over there to the right and you are bound to find something that will fit your needs. Many of the workshops fill up so do not wait to register. For those of you who were on the waiting list for the recent "Public Policy/John Stossel" workshop at Berry College have no fear because we are making plans to deliver that one again in the near future.

Let us know your ideas for meaningful workshops. What would you like to see?

Jan 13, 2009

Cow vs. Gas Tank

So I was out shopping for groceries last night and I picked up some milk. The price? $3.80 a gallon. On the way home from the grocery store I stopped to fill up the gas tank. The price? $1.59 a gallon. I am always amazed when I pay way more for a gallon of milk than I do a gallon of gas. Something just doesn't seem quite right.

After all, the cows that produced the milk may live within a few miles of my grocery store. You milk the cow, you ship the milk to a processing plant, do a little pasteurization and homogenization, put it in a container and then drive it to the grocery store. Seems rather simple. The gasoline on the other hand started off as oil in some far off land. It had to be painstakingly pumped out of the ground, shipped for thousands of miles to a processing plant, processed and processed and processed some more, piped for many miles and then loaded on to a truck and driven to my gas station. All that and the price is less than half of the milk price. Amazing. Gas is so inexpensive these days it almost makes you want to do this.

Ask your students to explain what is at work here with these prices.

Jan 12, 2009

From the Classroom volume 1

Hello blog visitors. Michael Melvin here. This is the first installment of the "From the Classroom" portion of the Econ Blog. Each week I will share a little something about what is going on in my classroom. If you like what you see please use it in your classroom. If you have suggestions please leave them in the comments section.

I like to divide up my senior Econ class into the pretty standard units of Intro/Comparative Economics, Micro, Macro, International trade and Personal Finance. I have been doing it this way for several years, but of course, the GPS has put much greater emphasis on personal finance. We all know that things get squeezed at the end of the semester, so I have started using my Budget Project as an introduction to topics that might get overlooked as the semester passes. A budget project is a great way to expose students to ideas like rational decision making, interest, saving and investment options, taxes, insurance (typically not a crowd favorite among econ teachers) and the significance of education to lifetime earnings.

I give out this project at the very beginning of the semester with a due date set about three weeks down the road. Student income is determined by a random drawing of a playing card, which represents a specific college degree or income level.

I understand that a great deal of econ teachers do a similar type of project and I am always borrowing and adapting from colleagues. For instance, I am going to add car maintenance and dentist/doctor visits to next year's budget. Check it out and give it a try if you are not currently using such a project. Your students, and their parents, will thank you.

Email gcemrrx@langate.gsu.edu for a copy of the budget project.

Jan 9, 2009

Econ Blog Goes World Wide

Greetings from the Georgia Council on Economic Education. If you are here you have found our latest tool to help K-12 teachers teach economics. We hope this blog will become a place where you go to find many ideas that will help you teach economics in new and exciting ways.

From this blog you can register for GCEE workshops (just click on "register"), read about economics in the news (check out the post about the week long wait in line to spend $230.00), link to useful websites (show your students that debt clock number and see their jaws drop), and get teaching tips from an outstanding high school economics teacher.

Another great feature of the blog is the comments section. Our hope is that teachers will share ideas and talk about what they are doing in the classroom. Please leave a comment and let us know how we can make the blog better as we move forward.

Jan 8, 2009

Generation "R"?

Maybe we should start calling the current crop of high school students this, with the "R" standing for recession. So how are your students dealing with the current economic difficulties? Are they bringing it up or do they consider the ongoing slump something only adults have to deal with? Ask your students what a prolonged recession might do to their chances of getting into that college they have been dreaming about attending since 7th grade. What will likely happen to college enrollment if thousands of adults lose their jobs in the coming months?

Post a comment and let us know what your students are saying about the recession. You can also check out this article to learn more about teens and the economy.

Jan 5, 2009

That Can't Be Good

GM sold nearly 900,000 fewer vehicles in 2008 than they did in 2007.

Jan 2, 2009

Bailout Mania- Who's Next?

Who would have thought at the beginning of 2008 that the government would be bailing out banks, car companies, insurance companies, and other financial institutions before the year came to a close? Will this trend continue?

What will 2009 bring on the bailout front? Will we see the makers of private jets ask for help? How about all of those newspapers that are struggling? I see that the NHL's Phoenix Coyote's are struggling to meet payroll. Maybe the government can purchase them hockey sticks and goalie pads to tide them over until they start making money.

Whatever happened to risk and failure? Isn't that what capitalism is all about?

Leave a comment and tell us what you think about the various government bailout's and how you are presenting them in the classroom.