Friday, April 29, 2016

Game Theory Part 2

To introduce game theory I show the above video. I stop it right before they reveal split or steal. I write the matrix on the board found below. I also ask the students what they think will happen. It is normally 1/4 slip on what could happen. The students enjoy this.


                                              Steal                                    Split
                        Steal           0%, 0%                                 100%, 0%
Female            Split            0%, 100%                             50%, 50%

The I show them this clip. They go crazy. Then I have them read a chapter in Think Like a Freak. The chapter titled, "What do King Soleman and David Lee Roth Have in Common?" It is a fun chapter that talks about a number of topics from medieval trails to phone scams.

Next, we play a card game the runs like this: each student is given a red or a black playing card, the values do not matter. We play 3 rounds in which I randomly pair students. I say, "Ready, set play" and they play their cards. If both play red, they each get 2 points, if one plays back and the other red, then the one that plays black gets 3 points and the one that plays red gets 0, if they both play black, each player receives 0 points. After the first 3 rounds, we play 3 more rounds in which they play with the same partner over and over again. I normally give a small prize to the person who has the highest score.

The last thing I do is an online quiz with a twist. My students remember this lesson years later and it is this: a quiz is put online, for us it is Schoology. It is an open note quiz and take it at any time within a week. Here is the twist, if no one takes it, everyone gets a 100%. If one person takes it and gets 1 answer correct, they get a 100% everyone else gets a 0. I do say, for safety reasons, I will never tell who took the test first. If more than one person takes it, they get the grade they get. One would think that no one would take, but they do not trust each other and they all end up taking the quiz. Admittedly, this one is all in how you present it.

This makes for two of the most fun days in economics.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Game Theory Part 1

My favorite subject to teach in all of economics is game theory. I teach it about the same in both AP and regular economics. Most introductory microeconomics courses are focused on market structures. Students mostly take notes on three of four market structures, but for oligopoly, students get a two-day lesson. This all starts with them reading the first chapter of Charles Wheelan's Naked Economics. In it, he writes about why there are so few airline providers... HINT - It has to do with limited gate space. Here is a summary of the chapters in the book. I also have the students read this article, from the New York Times, that gives different reasons. This is also a great tie in with price floors, if you have already done supply and demand.

I then play a quick game in which I bring in a $20 bill and I put them in a game. I tell them I would like to give the $20 to the person who thinks they deserve it the most. The problem is scarcity, as I only have one $20 bill. Since there is scarcity, I also can give points back on a quiz, normally 5 points. They must get out a small piece of paper and put their name on it. Their options are as follows: 1. If they think they deserve the $20 most, they put a #2 on the paper. If they want the points, they put a 0 on the paper. If only one person puts a 2 on the paper, that person must come up and get the $20 in front of everyone. If more than one person puts a 2 down their paper, no one gets anything, because I cannot give out both the points and I cannot split the $20. If everyone puts down the 0, then everyone gets the 5 points. In years of doing this, I have only given the money up once and the points up none of the time; therefore, most of the time, all classes get nothing.

I then show the clip from, "A Beautiful Mind" in which the real John Nash, comes up with the idea of game theory.

Next time I will go through the other games/videos I do with the students to illustrate this concept.

If you're new to economics, or you need a refresher on market structures, here it is. Crash Course Game Theory. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

US Debt

One subject that my students love to talk about is the US debt. There are numerous reasons why, but I feel one reason is that they know it will effect them directly. I also think they like talking in big numbers. Whatever the case may be, I always start off by showing them the US Debt Clock. There is so much going on here, that I have to take some time to explain what they are looking at. It is difficult to wrap one's head around the massive numbers and I think this video does a good job in making the numbers visible. I also show I.O.U.S.A. though some of the numbers have changed, the overall issues have not. Here is the 30 minute version. This lesson is always a winner in my classroom.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Money and Banking

This is a webinar from the Federal Reserve Bank, St. Louis branch. The website has some great resources for educators. With spring break upcoming, I like to do a little professional development during that time. This video has a lot in it in the way of information, ideas, and a good way to launch into money and banking.

Friday, April 15, 2016


I went to this conference two years ago and had a great time! All I had to pay was my way out there. The people and networking made it well worth the price.

June 15 – 17, 2016
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 

Join us to learn new strategies for teaching AP economics. Whether you are a seasoned economics instructor or new to the discipline, we'll have something to benefit you. Federal Reserve economists, AP economics exam readers, AP economics instructors, and St. Louis Fed economic education staff will present a program packed with the information you need to be successful in teaching AP economics.

This conference will feature:
  • 18 hours of professional development;
  • certificates of completion; and
  • continental breakfast, lunch and Wednesday evening reception.
There is no fee, but you must register by June 10. Parking is complimentary.
Click here for more information.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What motivates us?

This is one of my favorite clips to show my classes. We talk about companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, etc. that they have heard are great companies to work for and why they hold that reputation. We also talk about what that means if they start a company, as well as what that means for educaiton.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Personal Finance Classroom Resources Webinar

Though I do not teach Personal Finance, I know many of you do. Here is a great class for those who do. I would recommend anything the Kansas City Branch of the Fed puts out. 

Focus on Personal Finance:
Power up with lessons, videos and more during our webinar

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
3-4 p.m. (CST)
2-3 p.m. (MST)
Calling all high school educators who teach about personal finance: Join us Tuesday, April 26 for Classroom ECONnections with the Fed. The free quarterly webinar shares key resources from the Federal Reserve System.

Economic education experts will point you to a variety of materials tied to personal finance instruction—including printed lessons, publications, videos and online courses—to enhance your teaching and better engage your students. There is no charge for participation, but registration is required for the session, which will feature specialists from various Federal Reserve Banks.
After registration, you will receive an email with directions on how to connect to the webinar.
For more information, contact Jennifer Clark.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Games for Learning

One of the reasons I love teaching economics is because of the opportunity to have students play games. On the first day, we tell students that they will have more opportunity to win things and play games, than in any other subject. Though this video talks about using video games in the classroom, which I do not do, I do think there is something to be said about making class interesting and fun!

Here and here are some other sites for game ideas.