An economic education round-up

An economic education round-up

Gwinnett's students are actively engaged with economics education at every grade level, encouraged by creative educators who make the topic come alive in the classroom with real-world examples. Read on to see a sample of what's happening in our classrooms.

"Our kindergarten students developed their own town. Each classroom created three different businesses as simulated work environments for the students, for a total of 24 businesses. Some examples of our businesses included a Mexican restaurant, an ice cream shop, a movie theater, a police department, and even an ice skating rink. The kids had to plan and create their businesses from scratch.They earned real money from their 'jobs' and their restaurants and stores sold real goods.

"The students designed store fronts, menus, and sales tables. During our shopping week, the students had the freedom to shop in any of the classes. We rang a bell and they were free to explore on their own. Each student had 30 minutes to shop and 30 minutes to work. They were divided into two groups. They had to budget their money and make daily decisions. They also learned about the importance of having a work ethic and they practiced marketing strategies.

"We counted money, graphed profits, and practiced 46 kindergarten AKS daily. The kids were so excited and every parent in my room came by to check out the project. It was a fabulous experience!"

Colleen McGiboney of Puckett's Mill Elementary

"Regarding financial literacy and economic education, these are areas addressed throughout the year...

"Recently, my students investigated the economic causes of the European division of Africa at the Berlin Conference and Africa's subsequent full-force colonization. To show the economic exploitation of Africa's people and its natural resources, students created very impressive political cartoons. They also took their new knowledge into a debate in which they cited the results of European economic gain on the current economic issues faced by African countries today.

"As they work now to determine and understand a nation's standard of living, they are better able to realize that a nation's political system can significantly affect its standard of living, even in nations with abundant natural resources. My students have conducted extensive research on the Internet in order to write proposals for programs of economic aid and development in countries they've determined to be most needy.

"To personalize financial literacy, the students have studied sales ads, figured costs, and compared items at different stores. This, of course, leads to discussions about truth-in-advertising and advertising hype. Many of my students' parents own small businesses, and students conduct interviews with willing owners to find out operating costs, capital taken in, earned profit, and whether they produce goods or provide a service.

"A great deal of what we do is embedded within the study of our topic areas: Africa and Asia. Interestingly, in time the students are able to understand, make connections, and draw conclusions about a country's economic status based on its economic system."

Linda Koch of Duluth Middle

"I use lessons developed by the Georgia Council of Economics Education that correlate to our AKS. These lessons were incorporated into our lesson plan project so they are easily accessible for all teachers.

"The lessons use the unit focus to explain the economics of a situation. At every opportunity I use 'economics vocabulary' to either set up a situation or ask a question. In this way, the vocabulary becomes familiar and the kids are used to it by test time!

"One thing I am planning to do is go to the dollar store and buy several items for the following exercise: The students will be given random amounts of money (just like everyone has random amounts of income). Some will be 'store keepers' and the rest will be 'shoppers.' The store keeper must decide the cost of his or her goods depending on suppy and demand, the popularity of the items, etc. They will make signs and use different advertising techniques, similar to street vendors selling their wares.

"One store keeper will get one of the best items... and only one. The theory is that the shopkeeper can charge whatever he or she wants... because it is the only one and it is really COOL! The question we'll investigate will be: Is anyone willing to pay? If not, will the student lower the sales price to sell the item? I think we will see kids barter what they have bought from other store keepers to get this prize, while others will keep all their money, and a few others will buy things and then turn around and resell those items for more than they paid.

"At the end, the students will see who 'won' as shoppers. Will it be the shopper with the big prize? Will it be the one with the most money (but no treasures from the dollar store)? Will it be the one with a bag full of dollar store treasures? The conversation and discussion will be awesome! This is economics at its best!"

Melisa Jeffers of Riverside Elementary

"Recently, I have done a few lessons on the changing nature of Georgia's economy in the post-World War II era. We did a multi-day lesson comparing per capita income, population, and transportation systems in Georgia. The students made color-coded maps of Georgia based on population and income. They learned that Georgia can be divided into two very different socio-economic areas, one that is much more populated (urban) and has a higher standard of living and the other that has a lower population (rural) and is quite poor. Availability of transportation is one key factor in detemining similarities and differences between the two. We also have studied how and why Georgia changed in the post-World War II era from an agrarian economy to an industrial/service economy."

Tim Yates of Trickum Middle

"We have been learning about wants, needs, opportunity costs, and benefits in my class, and I have used children's literature to springboard our lessons. The students have learned that we all have wants and needs, but we have to streamline our choices through weighing the opportunity costs and benefits of each. Because I teach 2nd grade, I use real-world experiences to which my students can relate through the world of reading.

We discuss and chart ways to earn money, save money, and prioritize our wants. I try to find stories to read to the students with characters experiencing very similar financial dilemmas so that we can talk through their choices/decisions as well. Pigs Will Be Pigs by Amy Axelrod was one of the books I used to illustrate the point of saving money for a rainy day... or an unexpected trip out to a restaurant! Because reading and writing drives my instruction across the content areas, I use both to teach economics."

Kathy Herrin of Camp Creek Elementary