Sunday, August 31, 2014

How to Make a Graph in Google Drive

It's funny as I have been having my students draw maps in Google Drive for years, but have been struggling in economics.  Talking to my colleagues Susan Socha and Ken Martin, I was reminded that it is just like making a map.  Above is my three minute video explaining how.  

How to Interview Someone on a Google Hangout

If you are like me and all of your classes have a state or national exam at the end, you often feel somewhat pressed for time so bringing a speaker is not always something you can do until the end of the year.  But if you use a Google+ Hangout, you can bring someone in, limit the time they are "in" your room and share the live broadcast and or have it recorded to YouTube for later broadcasts. Above is a short video telling you how to do this.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Free Online AP Macro/Micro Courses

Here is an AP Macro course online or better yet it is a series of well done videos explaining the major parts of the course.  It also comes with a quiz for each video.  

Market Watch for Students Learning the Stock Market

My Economics and Personal Finance (EPF) students have to play a stock market game called Market Watch during the course of the year where they trade as much as the teacher allows them to have.  Since it is based on the real stock market, trades can only occur between 9 am and 4 pm EST.  My students really enjoy it. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Federal Reserve and You

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve offers a FREE DVD entitled "The Federal Reserve and You" or you can stream the video segments.  It covers the Fed's history, Money and Banking along with Monetary Policy. I ordered mine and received it about a week later at my school.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Answer the AP Macro FRQ Questions

One key on FRQ questions on the macro exam is to correctly label all parts of the graphs.  Above is a nice video showing how to answer the 2010 and below is the way to answer the 2010 micro questions. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

High School Economics 3rd Edition

I recently purchased this book Economics book from the Council for Economic Education website for $34.99 and it might be one of the best purchases I've made.  As you look through the Table of Contents you will see (28) Lessons using the Active Learning approach. The lessons are comprehensive and get the students moving, thinking and listening.  CEE has a YouTube channel and posted two videos of Lesson 13: Who decides Wage Rates? and Lesson 18: Unemployment Rate taking you through each and discussing expectations and outcomes for the students.  Included are Interactive supplements and downloadable power point slides.

Take My Technology Integration Course

I will be teaching the seventh version of my technology integration course with Fairfax County Public Schools this spring.  We will learn about such items as webquests, pacing your students individually using technology, flipping the classroom, using electronic textbooks, collaborating online, how to use Google Drive and lots more in a ten week course.  You can get more details here on page 43.  To sign up go to MyPLT (if you need help go to page 68) and put either the title or just a few words from the title or even e-mail me and I can add you to the class.  The sign-up period is from August 27th at 4 pm - September 10th.

The class will be on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7ish at Woodson.  It is free to FCPS employees, but if you live in the areas and are not in FCPS you can take it, but you have to pay for it (page 9).  The class fills up quickly, so if you are interested I would sign up sooner rather than later.  If you have questions, please e-mail me at 

Twitter In-Service

Tomorrow I will be doing an in-service on using Twitter in the classroom.  My colleague, Doug Zywiol, joined my department last year having never used it before and attended my Twitter in-service. Now he is a force and will show you how to do warm-ups using Twitter while I will have a hands on demonstration on using Twitter for your PLN and how to use a hashtag for discussions.  We will be in room 228 during session A.  If you are not a FCPS teacher, use the video above to learn how to use Twitter.   If you prefer seeing it all written out, here is a great set of written instructions and below is a summary of them:

For your PLN, a great group to follow is listed below:
Ken Halla @kenhalla
Cool Cat Teacher @letytijerina
We Are Teachers @WeAreTeacher
Larry Ferlazzo @LarryFerlazzo
Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal
Richard Byrna @rmbryne
Shelly Terrell @ShellTerrell

For hashtags, go to this link to see how my classes use it for government discussions returns, presidential debates and reviewed for the exams.  Below is a list of hashtags you might want to follow.  Some other useful ones are #SSChat (social studies), #HistoryTeacher and #GeographyTeacher.  To find a hashtag, type in the # symbol plus the name in the search engine in Twitter and the conversation will appear.  If you want to be really blown away go here for the 300 most popular hashtags for educators.
Educational Chats: #edchat, #schools, #lrnchat, #TT (Teacher Tuesday), #GlobalEd
Technology Chats: #edtech, #elearning, #mlearning (mobile learning), #edapps, #gbl (games based learning), #islide2learn (iDevices & learning), #vitalcpt (effective use of tech in the classoom)

If you want to both follow a hashtag and Tweet at the same time, I'd suggest you use TweetChat.  Below is a video on how to use it.  

Flipped Classroom In-Service

Tomorrow I am teaching two sections of how to flip your classroom to Fairfax County (VA) teachers.  If you are coming, I will be in room 228 during sessions B and C.  If you aren't a teacher in Fairfax or if after our session, you want to watch how to do it again, above is an eight minute video detailing all of the steps and what to do in the classroom after you have done your flipping.  

The PowerPoint below has a number of great resources for more information on flipping.

Finally here is an example of a flipped video, the actual Google form we used and the interactive assignment that followed in class

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tragedy of the Bunnies Game

Microeconomics talks about the "tragedy of the commons" which was when one person lets his sheep eat on a public common area.  But if everyone did this, there would not be enough grass for everyone.  So to highlight this, your students have a variety of games they can play to learn this concept.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Become an AP Grader

I have been grading different AP exams for well over a decade and have found it one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life.  Yes it does get hard the fourth and fifth day of grading the same exam over and over (well some subjects like US train you in two), but the rewards are many.  I have a national network of friends whose collective brains I pick throughout the year, learn how to master an AP rubric and generally enjoy the places where we grade (San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Lincoln, Daytona Beach).  Perhaps the best thing, and the reason I go is so I can help my students "beat" the AP exam.  I must also say I am very efficient in grading throughout the year as being a grader has greatly improved my speed and the ability to find the exact mistakes the kids are making (which unlike the real AP exam I mark).

If you are interested, apply here by the end of September.  If you decide to go and they generally look for people in their third year - but last year government took people who had taught fewer - you will have your plane, hotel and food paid for the week and you will get an "honorarium." You will spend your first day learning the rubric, the grade for five full days and part of the a sixth one.  You work from 8 to 5 with two 15 minute breaks and an hour lunch.  Even if you think it would be miserable, I think you owe it to your students to try it once. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Graphing Washington's Legal Marijuana Market

All credit for this idea goes to Ed Dolan who posted his explanation of Washington State's Marijuana policy. This is an idea that I would like to use in class when we are going over taxes in our Consumer Choice Theory unit and we discuss taxation.

Ed breaks down the issue of what will happen in the ideal scenario and then what happens if the taxes are too high and the regulations are too onerous.
I will definitely use this in class to engage my students and so they can see some real world examples of the effect of taxes. Thanks Ed!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Complete AP Micro and Macro Course

Andrew Foos is a tremendous resource in my county.  He has put all of his "stuff" on one sheet which I have here.  You will see he has a flipped video for each day as well as the PowerPoint he used and then a problem set.  If you are starting an AP Macro/Micro course, you have now found the motherlode! Honestly if you use some of the other resources I have already blogged about such as the formulas cheat sheet, you could almost do this course without a textbook by just using Foos' stuff.

One note is that he uses Krugman's college text which is why his videos won't match your AP Krugman or Mankiw.  Either way it all goes in order so you can still easily use it.  Above is his first micro flipped video.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Milton Friedman vs Phil Donahue

Classic Interview between Economist Milton Friedman and Talk Show Host Phil Donahue from 1979 debating Economic theory, Government involvement and Capitalism.  Many of the topics can lead to good discussion in class.  Also, its interesting how history repeats itself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Moblab is a free website that has a number of educational games including Economics. I have never used Moblab, but what I found intriguing is that the games can be played on a computer or on an app on the students' mobile phones. I am not always able to get a computer lab for when I want, but almost all of my students have smart phones. There were a few games that jumped out at me that seemed relevant to AP Economics. I have copied images of the games and their descriptions below. If you have any experience using Moblab please let me know the positives and negatives in the comments section! Thanks so much!

This game looks interesting to explain the Prisoner's Dilemma and Nash Equilibrium.

This look it has potential to explain public goods and free riders.
This could be used when teaching Market Structures.

This could be used to help explain the Tragedy of the Commons, although you could also use the Tragedy of the Bunnies.

I guess I might use this game on Bank Runs if the game is quick. I could see using this in US History as well.

So I will probably try to use these this year. If you have used them in the past please let me know what you think or what you know about the games.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Need to Meet Scheduler

Do you have problems scheduling meetings with your colleagues and send numerous emails to get it together?  Well Need to Meet might be the answer.  First off you don't even have to join.  Secondly it is incredibly easy as it prompts you for each step.  Essentially you give the date and time of potential meetings and send a url to friends who put in their preferences and without a second email you will have a date and time for your meeting.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

What to do the First Day of School

I am almost laughing this as my summer school students finished on the 5th of August when some of you were already heading back to school for teacher work days.  Unfortunately in Virginia, for both parties, business reigns supreme and so we have our so called Kings Dominion Law which necessitates that we start school after Labor Day putting giving our students 2-3 weeks less instruction than others before the AP and IB exams not to mention more time after Spring Break when we all know students start smelling summer!

But enough of the diatribe.  I am thinking to my first day of school on September 2nd.  My first day is typical - refined somewhat after twenty-three previous ones.  I spend most of the period getting to know my students and they me.  They have to answer questions such as 1) best place they went this summer (outside of their home bc otherwise they would say "bed!") 2) the place they would most want to be (again outside of their home) to which I answer here where I spent four years (and has this at the end of it)  3) Why we should study history (and don't say "to learn from the past") after which I show them the first minute from this.  4) something they want to learn from the course (which is difficult for most - but we want thinking to occur right) even it is a skill.  5) a quality (singular or plural) about their favorite teacher.

This article and this one use research to effectively say what I am doing is on task, but the authors also argue that your introduction to the content should also be done the first day and that (and thankfully I do this as well) your expectations should also be laid out the first day.  As we know from back to school night, students often form their impression of us on the first day and it is hard to change that.  So be fun, firm and kindly keep the kids on task and you will set yourself up for a great 2014-15 school year.

Good luck.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Documentary: IOUSA

IOUSA is an eye opening look at the Federal debt and deficits and the possible ramifications into the future.  This 82 minute documentary goes in depth on the 4 deficits we face: Budget, Trade, Savings and Leadership.  A shorter 30 minute version is also available.  This is a must see for the next generation that will have to pay for our free lunch and can lead to some great discussions.  Here is a handout with questions and some vocabulary.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dirk Mateer

Dirk Mateer's website is an amazing resource of pop culture econ resources. He is a professor of Economics at the University of Arizona and he uses a lot of pop culture references and in class experiments to teach his intro Economics classes. He has organized tons of tv clips, movie clips, songs, and videos of himself. These resources are an excellent way to add engagement to your economics class. I plan on adding a number of his video clips to make my lectures more engaging.

Treasury Bonds and Macroeconomics

Here is a NYTimes article you might want to consider using in your class as it discusses the falling of Treasury bond yields.

Above is a Quizlet review of monetary policy.  Quizlet has lots of great review cards and games which you can use, copy and alter or even make your own.

Here is a curriculum module from the College Board on monetary policy.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fed Chairman Game

The Fed Chairman Game gives students an inside look at how The Fed(Monetary Policy) operates and the balancing act between their two goals: controlling inflation and keeping unemployment low.  By adjusting interest rates you can affect the overall economy but that action may change the unemployment rate or cause inflation.  See if you can make it through (16) quarters.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Teaching Thoughs

One of the more interesting education books I have read recently is "The Smartest Kids in the World."  Above is a very interesting interview "excerpt" where she mostly says Finland closed down its education schools and then only opened them again in the prestigious universities.  She even notes that technology is often missing in Finland and Korea (although I argue in my book that it is being used improperly as effectively a way to just digitize paper).

But what you might want to do is to look at the author, Amanda Ripley's blog which has a lot of stimulating articles.  You can also follow her on Twitter.  Food for thought to improve our craft.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Financing Life--Short videos on Investing

Common Sense Investing by Rick Van Ness put together some great videos on investing in a simplified, easy way.  Remember this quote from Vanguard patriarch John Bogle dealing with investing: "What's good for the financial services industry is bad for you."  Financing Life is a great site for teachers and students to learn some simple yet easy follow guidelines when investing. On a side note for teachers, this PBS Frontline program: The Retirement Gamble sheds some light on whats happening to your 401k, 403b and IRAs in terms of the stealth fees the financial services industry take from your investment return and how much you could be losing.

JA and PWC Build Your Future App

Junior Achievement and Price Waterhouse have an app for high school students wanting figure out what type of career they may be interested in, costs of college and return on investment. Should spark some interest in students on their future, how to pay for college and future income.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Foundation for Teaching Economics

The Foundation for Teaching Economics seems to be a pretty amazing group as they offer most of their programs (including one week long ones) for little or no cost.  There is also a blog, lesson plans and programs for your students.  The most interesting lesson for me is "Is Capitalism Good for the Poor?"  Talk about a stimulating title.  It also has plenty of links for your students to follow as they move through the lesson.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Elkhart 5 Project: Follow 5 teens graduating into the Great Recession

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
These short 6 clips document how Seniors in the Class of 2009 dealt with a contracting economy and making post-high school choices. MSNBC followed (5) graduating students from the town of Elkhart, Indiana where their unemployment reached as high as 25% and looked at how these teenagers dealt with their future outlook.  MSNBC followed up a year later to see where the teens where at and how they are dealing with their choices.  This is quite an eye opener most of your students.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Compound Interest Calculator & US Debt clock

This is a great visual tool for students to see how saving/investing over time pays off.  This can lead to a discussion on saving money (like in a bank or credit union) vs investing (stocks, bonds & mutual funds) and interest rates.  You can also contrast this with debt in that compound interest is going the opposite way when you borrow with our US Government being the worst debtor in the history of civilization. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Common Sense Economics--What Everyone Should Know about Wealth and Prosperity

I attended a conference put together by Common Sense Economics that was done by FSU professors who wanted to create a class for students that may only take one Economics class.  The curriculum is completely turn key for teachers with scrambled test bank questions, videos, audio, text book and all lessons are well put together.  If you use the LMS Blackboard or Moodle(which I use) the curriculum can be uploaded. Very easy for both teacher and student with relevant modern applications and best of all its FREE.  Contact any of the professors for access to this exceptional tool, or you can view it for yourself or see if a workshop is coming to your area.

Different Types of Insurance

One of the things my Economics and Personal Finance students look at is the kinds of insurance you want to purchase.  When I was in high school I remember David Lee Roth had paternity insurance.  This got me to wondering what types of insurance are out there.  So as an introduction for my students we look at this very lengthy list of insurance items ranging from car, health, etc. to exotic pets, cats, birthdays and a lot of other ones you could spend a lot of your money on protecting yourself.