Integrating economic concepts and big ideas into social studies lesson and unit design seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal. But if you’re like me, you probably don’t have a ton of econ background.
So it’s always nice to have a few handy resources rattling around in your tool kit when designing instruction. And the US Federal Reserve banking system has got you covered. With twelve regional banks around the country, each with their own education department, the Federal Reserve has an amazing storehouse of educational materials and lesson plan ideas.
To help organize their stash and to make it easier for you to find what you need, the Reserve created a dedicated site designed specifically for teachers. And you know it’s good because they names the site Federal Reserve Education. I mean, it’s right there in title.
Start your search by selecting the link to Find Your Federal Reserve District. Then click on any one of the 12 districts, select View Resources, and narrow your results by using the filters along the left side. This allows you to browse through specific regional banks such as St. Louis or Boston. You can also search a specific region’s resources by using the keyword search located at the top of the page. Read more
Gapminder is an organization promoting sustainable global development by encouraging the use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels.
Basically it’s a tool you and kids can use to compare and contrast countries around the world. So . . . teaching geography, world history, economics, comparative government? GapMinder is a tool you and your kids need to be using.
At GapMinder, you can access a variety of tools, lesson plans, and videos that help students understand the world and can help you generate a wide range of problems for your kids to solve.
One example of a lesson plan that uses GapMinder data can help your kids to think about the gaps in the world today and challenge their preconceived ideas about how the contemporary world looks. The exercise can also be used to stimulate an interest in using statistics to understand the world.
How to use the activity: Read more
I’ve been to the Fast Company network of sites in the past but I need to learn to spend more time over there, uh . . . researching possible post topics. Yeah. That’s it. Not wasting time reading interesting articles about how Batman videos have evolved over time. I’m over there investing valuable minutes tracking down very appropriate articles directly tied to education related subjects.
Okay. A few articles may be tough to defend education-wise but you’ve got four channels – Exist, Design, Create, Video – to choose from and you can find a ton of interesting reads here. If nothing else, you’ve got some great writing prompts.
A recent research trip to the Exist channel uncovered two of my favorite things: a map and another map.
The most recent map claims to highlight every single job in America with a variety of different colors. The map plots out each job with an actual dot in four simplified categories. Factory and trade jobs are red, professional jobs are blue, health care, education, and government jobs are green, and service jobs like retail are yellow.” It is interactive, allowing you to zoom and scroll from one place to another, providing a chance to see patterns both small and large. Read more
I’m not exactly sure where I was or what I was doing when I first ran across Peter Menzel’s first book, Material World, A Global Family Portrait. Pretty sure it was some sort of social studies conference years ago and a vendor had some poster size images from Material World. And I was captured.
The images were powerful. The text informative and engaging. The teaching and learning possibilities endless.
It was a simple concept. Read more
The shift is on. We’re moving beyond simple rote memorization and direct instruction to a more hands on, interactive and evidence-based learning method. We want kids to solve problems and communicate solutions.
That’s a good thing.
But as we all get better at giving kids problems to solve and asking them to use evidence to solve those problems, it’s easy to focus on certain types of evidence. Diaries. Journals. Speeches. Photos. Maps. You know . . . the basic types of primary source documents many of you having been using forever. Absolutely nothing wrong with those types of evidence. Heck, secondary sources work too.
What can start to happen, though, is that we rely too much on the old reliables and never ask kids to use more complicated kinds of things. And one type of evidence that we need to start using more is the huge amount of public data that is available. Statistics. Population numbers. Demographical data. Movement of people and materials. This kind of stuff is perfect for creating authentic problems and encouraging creative solutions by your students.
The problem, of course, is that the data has been hard to access and even harder to make sense of. But there is a solution. Right there in plain sight. Most of us just missed it. Read more
Yes. I’m sure you’ve heard.
The Kansas House of Representatives introduced a bill about two weeks ago requiring a personal financial literacy program as a requirement for high school graduation. Not a bad idea at all. Of course, later amendments to the bill dropped the graduation prerequisite and added the requirement that schools teach “the importance and execution of an effective professional handshake.”
So . . . look out, global economy. Meet a kid with a firm grip and who looks you square in your eye? You know that’s a Jayhawk.
All semi-kidding aside, the intent of the Kansas House was spot on. Kids do need to a strong knowledge of economics and personal finance. Lucky for them April is Financial Literacy Month.
If you’re in the need of some financial literacy ideas, Read more