Monday, February 29, 2016

Situation in Venezuela

There are many economic lessons to be learned from the situation in Venezuela. The country is in a very sad state. With that said, I am starting my supply and demand unit with my CP class. This video and the article are great bell ringers and can be used for a whole host of economic lessons. From the FOREX market to inflation, to price controls, and a general discussion on the fact that even if a country is flush with natural resources if the price drops or there are no means by which to foster that resource, it can make the country worse off.

Friday, February 26, 2016

World's Largest Economies

CNN Money has a great graph out about the world's largest economies. In addition, you can go back a few years and move forward in time and see projections. This will be a great bell ringer in my AP Macroeconomics class as well as in my CP economics class when we get to that unit. I want students to make predictions on who will remain in which spots, and who might raise or fall and why.

I think it is interesting that Canada is projected to fall out of the top ten by 2020. With NAFTA and the oil sands, I do not see how, but it might be a great conservation to have.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Using the Rolling Stones

On the first day of class, as part of my introduction, I tell my students they are in for more than just an economics class. Within the class, I give dating advice, which I will post about later, better use of study time, and a new appreciation of music. I tell them, jokingly, that most of their parents have failed them and that I will help them in that area. As part of each of my test or daily quiz, I play a "Eagles Radio" Pandora station, in which if they can identify who the artist is and who sings the song, they get a bonus point. They look forward it and it has become a distinctive of my class. 

On one of the first days of class, we list to the Rolling Stones song, "You can't always get what you want" and talk about scarcity and the differences between needs and wants, which the come to see as not being different at all. We also talk about unlimited wants and the need to choose. Even though most of my students do not listen to this type of music, they seem to really like it when we listen to it as a class.

Live version of the song:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wolfs and Economics

I got this idea from the AP economics teacher Facebook page. If you are not a member, I would strongly suggest it. It is a great resource to ask questions, bounce ideas, and be in a community with fellow economics teachers. Antony Davis, who has done a number of videos for the Learn Liberty Series, and is a good friend of mine, posted this video. 

His position is this: 
An ecosystem is actually an economy where predators are consumers, prey are producers, and genetic mutation and behavioral adaptation are entrepreneurs. 

This a fun way to show economic ideas through nature, or even dispute Adam Smith's statement in, "The Wealth of Nations." that, “It is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals, which seem to know neither this nor any other species of contracts.” WON Book 1 Chapter2.

Either way, a fun bell ringer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FreedomTrust High School Program

This is a great program put on by two friends of mine, James Harrigan, PhD and Antony Davis, PhD. The FreedomTrust high school program is designed to give honors-level high school students a taste of college-level economics and philosophy. The program, designed for between 30 and 100 students, is comprised of four one-hour sections of lectures, economic experiments, and discussion.

Each of these segments, including time for Q&A, is roughly one hour long. We conclude the program with an open Q&A session.

These gentlemen will travel to your school and put on anywhere from a full day to multiple day seminars. They are wonderful and it has been memorable days for my students. Maybe this is something to consider if you have your students after the AP tests.

Contact James Harrigan if you are interested:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Economics of Seinfeld

Yada, yada, yada

I am getting to that age in which the shows I remember, my students have never heard of. It is a painful truth. One such show is Seinfeld. One of my favorites and a show most students have never seen. This page is great for teaching a number of different concepts. Even if your students have never seen the show, they often times love the short clips and find them very funny. You may want to preview before showing, but it is a great way to show some comedy, get a good laugh in, and watch economics in the world of Seinfeld.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The FED and Rate Hikes

The article listed below is a great article about the Fed, aggerate demand, wages, and the FOREX market. This is article/video would be great to use for future expectations. In my AP class, I am going to design an FRQ around what is found. I am thinking something along the lines of:

1. The U.S. economy is in full employment.
     a) Draw a correctly labeled Aggregate Supply and Demand graph showing this.
         i) Use Y1 for full employment and PL1 for the price level. 
     b) The world economy begins to slide into recession and is expected to continue into this trend. On the graph you made above, show the result on the US economy because of this. 
          i) Use Y2 for full employment and PL2 for the new price level.
     c) Explain the correct action the central bank should take as a result of your graph in b).
     d) The dollar remains strong, show in the FOREX market what investors would do as a result.
     e) At the same time, energy prices have decreased, show on a new Aggregate Supply and Demand graph the result of this.
     f) Illustrate on a PPF what happens as a result of your previous answer in #4. 

It would need some refinement but goes along with this article. In my CP class, we would walk slowly through what the Fed is doing and how it is supposed to help the U.S. economy.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl Commercials

It is because of the nature of both economics and the Super Bowl that I had to post about the commercials. In addition, I live in Denver. Each year the cost of a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl has increased. I am going to engage my economics students as to why they think that is. Also, whether or not a company should invest in the cost of that ad, or somewhere else, like wages. I want to talk them about what happens if the commercial flops, like the one pictured above, a Mountain Dew Monkey, baby, puppy, commercial. 

This could be a great discussion on supply and demand, factor and product markets, market structures, etc. The possibilities are really endless. 

Increasing cost of Superbowl:

The Top Ten Superbowl Ads:

Superbowl TV rating:

Forbes Article, "Yes, A Super Bowl Ad is worth $4 million:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Upfront Magazine

Upfront Magazine

Upfront Magazine has proven to be a wonderful few bucks spent for my AP/CP economics classes, as well as my AP US government classes. The articles are short, well written and mostly unbiased. At the end of each edition, there is a controversial issue, in which, both sides are presented and written by experts in the field. The stories are current and short. I normally use them as bellringers to open up a topic. The students enjoy the articles and the discussions we have are fruitful.

You can preview a previous issue at their website. I have been very impressed with everything Upfront has put out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Comparative Advantage

The Desert Island and Paper Game

Learn Liberty has a great game to teach comparative advantage, which is one of the areas my students, both AP and CP, struggle mightily. When starting, we go over why nations trade, then talk about comparative advantage. We watch the AC/DC economics video ( about how to find comparative advantage. In my AP class, I have them play the desert island game ( both basic and advanced game. Then, they take a screenshot at the end to show how both benefited. In my CP class, we play the basic game together and I walk them through it.

Afterward, we play the game that can be found here: you will need 2 different colors of paper, we use yellow and blue and cut it into 1/4ths. You will need a high volume of paper depending on class size. It is fun and you can run with it, for example, if you want to explore terms of trade.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Marshmallow Challenge

The Four Factors of Production/The Role of the Entrepreneur 


The Marshmallow Challenge was designed by Tom Wujec and has a whole host of applications. I use it in all of the economics classes when we talk about the four factors of production. It is a great way to show how entrepreneurs, played by them, use land, the materials, and labor, the group, use creative solutions to solve problems. 

The whole the procedure can be found at There is some setup time and a little bit of cost associated with this assignment, but it is well worth it.

Afterward, I have them watch the TED Talk found here: It leads to some great conversation.