Saturday, February 28, 2015

Read My Book, Earn Graduate Credit

Thanks to Julie Halse for the heads up on this one.  You can now earn graduate credit by reading my book Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction.

The book has multiple practical ways to help teachers and administrators develop online professional learning communities, flip the classroom, use Google Drive, evaluate students’ ability and much more.  Most importantly it shows teachers how to set up their own classrooms so the needs of each individual student can be better met and so all students can more easily meet their full potential.  

It also has examples of how technology is being used in classrooms to personalize instruction and gives teachers and administrators “Educator Challenges” that can be used to integrate the learning models in the book into the classroom.  

So if you are interested, buy the book (and go here if you want discounted volume purchases) and go here to learn how you can complete an assignment and earn graduate credit.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Monetary Spending and Negative Interest Rates in the Eurozone

This is a fascinating NYTimes article on the negative interest and bond rates that have now hit the European Union.  That means that people are making money for taking out loans while those parking their cash in banks are being charged for the right to do so!

If you want some help in explaining it all to your students above is a video from Education Portal on fiscal and monetary policy and here is another one that adds in the impact of those two policies on foreign exchange rates. If you prefer, here is a written article explaining the background.

Terms that you cover in your class that are in the article are: monetary policy, pegging a currency, interest rates, bonds, bonds, exchange rates and yields.

While we are at it, here is an article (2.28) stating that China's central bank just cut its interest rates in a bid to spur its slowing economy.  (updated 2.28)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Price of Deflation

If you haven't joined AP Economics Teachers on Facebook, get on with it!  I keep finding articles there - and other resources - that are so helpful to my students.  For example, we just did inflation and deflation - so tomorrow we can begin with this article from the Economist  titled Deflation - The high cost of falling prices.  It uses such terms as inflation, deflation, central banks, nominal, quantitative easing, unemployment, inventory - all of which are terms I assume you are using in your classes.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mastery Learning

One of my students came back the other day lamenting that colleges do not offer second chance tests! Another teacher said, "As it should be!"  But I was reminded that the doctor who helped bring my son Grant into the world had only delivered ten kids prior to us and while he came out just fine despite her having to push awfully hard on my wife's stomach.  Lawyers who can't win for their clients the first time, can appeal and law makers often have to try year after year to get their bills or amendments through.  But as a father of two middle schoolers, I see how motivated students can be and how much they (my girls) want to improve their scores if they didn't do well enough the first time.

I have been transitioning (I have not yet gone to pinpointing parts of a summative test and only re-testing on that) the last few years to mastery teaching.  Rich Hoppock first convinced me to give second chance tests, which led to unlimited formative quizzes and my now late principal Dave Tremaine convinced the entire school to cut late grades to 20%.  I have gone even further cutting out all late grades, but then again I won't allow anyone to take a test until they turn in their study guides.  I even let students turn in assignments multiple times if they want to raise their grades.  Believe it or not I have not had any more late grades (yes I use Remind the night before an assignment is due, send weekly grade reports and call lots of parents when students start slipping), but the bottom line is that as a parent I see the need to master the material, not figuratively beat up students.  Sure I am frustrated with some of my students for whom mastery is "just passing," but I see them as a challenge to teach better rather than give in.

I think mastery teaching has also been possible as I work more one on one with each of my kids than I have ever had time to do before.  Of course this is in large part thanks to the help of technology. It has also been possible by staying after school a great deal more, but here is the bottom line: if the kids are learning better for longer periods of time and in a timely fashion, isn't that better for us as educators?

If you want more detailed research on all of this here is a nice Ed Leadership article going all the way back to 2003!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kahoot for Competitive Quizzes

I really enjoy the way the Internet works.  I just finished watching a movie with my girls and now that they are headed to bed, I just checked Twitter and found a new follower on my account by named Mr Koz who in turn led me to Glenn Wiebe both of whom had posted on Kahoot.  That made me wonder if Richard Byrne had posted on it and sure enough he just did a few days ago.

So what is Kahoot.  It is a bit like PollEverywhere which I have posted on in the past which lets you put up questions in front of your classroom using your LCD and your students can answer quick review questions using any Internet connected device.

  • The difference here is that students compete against others in the classroom
  • they can use any name they want 
  • do not have to give anything other than that) 
  • you can take other people's quizzes and use them as well.  
  • you can set a timer
So for example here is one on
Now it is looking less like I will have school in person on Tuesday so I am thinking that I might use Kahoot in my AP Comparative's online classroom (yes we meet on snow days) to see if my students have done their work.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Starting Your Own Microeconomics Course

This year I am teaching both an economics and personal finance course as well as AP Micro/Macro. The former is online and already made so I am spending my time finding resources for the latter.  But I have been asked a number of times about non AP economics.  If I were starting from scratch to make an honors' or standard economics class, I might consider looking at the new MRUniversity run by two George Mason University professors.  The class does not go into the great detail that is done by Foos or ACDC or Welker Economics but they have real world scenarios that students will be able to recognize and use to remember the concepts in addition to very professional videos.

While I haven't had a chance to look at all of the videos, they are extremely professional, but without the problem figuring that are necessary to AP classes.  But that doesn't mean it can't be another resource for you course.  To my mind, kids are much better seeing something shown to them in an interactive video than having a one time only that can't be referenced in the future.  Also, face it, kids love using their smartphones and are more willing to view videos than look at a textbook. 

So, here is the outline for MRUniversity for Microeconomics and here is the YouTube playlist for those videos. 

There are some videos for macroeconomics on their site, but not nearly an entire course. 

The Invisible Hand and Your Valentine's Flowers

Today I received an email from "Alexandra" telling me about MRUniversity which has a series of extremely professionally produced videos about economics.  For example here is one on the equilibrium price.  Their graphics and real world examples are really well done.

Above is one of their videos (most of theirs are under 5 minutes) explaining the myriad of connections that have allowed you (or me in cold Virginia) to get roses when none are growing nearby.

If you are like me, I have one main source of my videos for my flipped classroom, but supplement them with other and now am glad I have yet another resource for my students.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Demand and Supply Side Economics

Just as my students are working on the presidential dilemma below, this Economist article on Great Britain's central bank does a very nice job of explaining what supply and demand shocks can do to an economy.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The President's Dilemma - Macro Policy Simulation

We are spending 2 and 1/4 days on a group project called the President's Dilemma.  First off I converted the document to a word file (you need Adobe converter) and then I converted it to a Google Drive document so that I could link to all the necessary memos and readings.

It is a great way to introduce a lot of macro concepts as the dilemma sets up a situation where the US has stagflation and since there is no answer to cure all of it, the kids are going to have to think their recommendations for the president through several stages and be frustrated a solution for one problem (say inflation) might hurt unemployment.  

Econ and Your Valentine

The price of cocoa has gone up and therefore so will your candy that you are giving your loved ones on Valentine's Day.  This NYTimes article you could share with your students to look at the ramifications of world wide products on the microeconomics of individual firms.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Moblab for More Econ Simulations

Moblab is another way (see post below) that you can use to help your students play games to reinforce their learning in your economics' class.  Teachers get a free account and you can then enter your students into this protected environment. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cybrary Man for Writing Rubrics

Cybrary Man has an amazing number of lists that can help you, but one that is going to be a super help to you is the list of rubrics.  My favorite is Rubistar which allows you to enter information about your project and then spits a rubric back at you which you can use with your students.  Both of these are featured in my "interactives" section of my book Deeper Learning Through Technology: Using the Cloud to Individualize Instruction.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Diigo for Bookmarking

I have been using Diigo for years and have written a number of posts as it allows you to bookmark websites and share them (or not). You can categorize the sites you select and find them on the web or on your smartphone.

Above is a great video I found today on FreeTech4Teachers.

Simulations for Your Econ Students

If you are looking to do some simulations with your students you might want to try these "active learning" techniques" which cover everything from diminishing returns to the stock market to comparative advantage to supply and demand and everything in between. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Grooveshark/Spotify to Sharpen Student Focus

So my students have been listening to music long enough in class that they used to just start the songs on their iPods and not have to worry about it.  I let them listen to music as it actually helps most of them focus.  Now they often like going to YouTube.  The problem with that is that the kids have to find a new song, oh every three minutes and that is not productive. So I tell them they get one change a class.  So many use Spotify or my suggestion which is Grooveshark.  Both are free and let students find an artist and play any group of songs.  This will show my age, but when an album comes out it is the first place I go (everything is there) to see which songs I want to buy for my own playlist.  Try it out for you and your students.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Personalized Learning in Spain

Okay so this summer I am teaching a two day institute on personalized learning.  Yes, it will highlight some items from my book such as

  • how to flip your classroom
  • building your PLC beyond your school walls
  • finding resources for your classroom
  • and creating one or two lessons you can actually use in your classroom next fall.
So if you love the Spanish coast and want to combine some vacation with learning, then you might want to check out my course which you can register for right now

Inflation Calculator

Here is the Bureau of Labor Statistics site that allows you to calculate inflation.  So for example if I put $100 away when I was born back in 1963, it would now have the buying power of $773.  So when you cover inflation it might be a useful site to use for your students. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Game Theory and the Super Bowl

If you look at this NYTImes article, it argues that Game Theory says that the coaching decision by the Seahawks to throw the ball on the one yard line was a good decision.  I found the article on the Facebook page for AP Economics teachers