Thursday, December 7, 2017

Deck the Halls...

I love this time of year. Here is a video I show that the same economists that made the Keynes vs. Hayek videos, so there is an Austrian bent. After I show the video, we discuss the difference in macroeconomic policies. The students all think I am an economics nerd, which I am, and they like the songs used.

At the end, there is a photo of "Macro Santa." The joke is typically lost on the students. The voiceover says, "And remember, the one person to create presents out of nothing is Santa himself." The joke here is that they used someone who looked like then Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke. This is a shot at the Federal Reserve, as they can create money from nothing due to the fact that our money is fiat.  Something else to discuss with your classes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

How Evil is Tech?

With all of education moving towards the better and faster tech, and with us all trying to meet students where they live, this article, written by David Brooks, poses some interesting questions. His three big critiques of the use of technology are as follows:
1. It destroys young people
2. Tech companies are greedy and knowingly are causing this addiction
3. The main tech companies operate in a near monopoly setting which allows them to institute user settings to invade people's private lives.

So what should our response be as economics teachers and adults? I really like the way the article ends by saying, "Imagine if instead of claiming to offer us the best things in life, tech merely saw itself as providing efficiency devices. Its innovations can save us time on lower-level tasks so we can get offline and there experience the best things in life."


Monday, November 27, 2017

5 Classroom Tools to Measure Student Learning

This article does a great job explaining how to use real-time tools for quick assessment. The following are explored.



Quizlet Live



Thursday, November 16, 2017

Behavioral Economics

My favorite topic to teach is game theory and behavioral economics. Though a new area of study in economics, it is rich in material. If you are looking for ways to teach this topic, you can find resources here that are from the Council for Economic Education. I would also suggest that you pick up anything by the Freakonomics guys, or Predictable Irrational by Dan Ariely. You will find yourself and your students, thinking and approaching problems in a whole new way.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I am not sure how many of you get the Marshall Memo, but it is a great summary of what is being discussed within academic circles about education. This was in the latest edition:

1. Key Insights on Studying, Remembering, and Learning

            In an appendix to his 2013 book, How We Learn, Benedict Carey answers eleven essential questions that sum up the main insights he presents in the book:
            • How important is routine, like having a dedicated study area? Not at all, says Carey. “The more environments in which you rehearse, the sharper and more lasting the memory of that material becomes… That is, knowledge becomes increasingly independent of surroundings the more changes you make.” Most people learn better by studying in different locations, using different methods, at different times of the day, constantly changing the way they store material in memory.
            • Is there an optimal amount of time to study or practice? “More important than how long you study is how you distribute the study time you have,” says Carey. Ideally, break up study time into chunks over two or three days, each time reengaging with the material, retrieving it, and re-storing it in memory – “an active mental step that reliably improves memory.”
            • How much does it help to review notes from a class or lesson? Very little, he says. Looking over highlighted material is one of the least effective ways to study; the same goes for verbatim copying. That’s because both are fairly passive and don’t engage the brain in the kind of work that will make learning sink in. What’s more, passive review can cause what cognitive scientists call the “fluency illusion” – unwarranted confidence that you’ll remember it for good.
            • Is cramming a bad idea? Now always. It’s okay if you’re behind and have no choice. But the downside is that you won’t remember much after the test or performance. That’s because the brain sharpens memories only after a little forgetting has taken place.
            • So what does work? “Self-testing is one of the strongest study techniques there is,” says Carey. “Old-fashioned flashcards work fine; so does a friend, work colleague, or classmate putting you through the paces.” So does reciting a passage from memory, or explaining a concept to yourself or a friend. Testing yourself (or being tested) does two things: it forces you to retrieve information from memory, and it gives you immediate feedback if you couldn’t remember it so you know what you don’t know and need to work on some more.
            • What’s the most common reason for bombing a test after what felt like careful preparation? It’s the fluency illusion – the erroneous belief “that you ‘knew’ something well just because it seemed so self-evident at the time you studied it,” says Carey. Several passive, ineffective study methods feed this illusion:
-   Highlighting or rewriting notes;
-   Working from a teacher’s outline;
-   Re-studying after you’ve just studied.
Far better to test yourself, space out the study, and find out what you actually don’t know.
            • Is it best to practice one skill at a time until it becomes automatic, or to work on many things all at once? Working on just one thing (free throws, a musical scale, the quadratic equation) improves skill. “But over time, such focused practice actually limits our development of each skill,” says Carey. “Mixing or ‘interleaving’ multiple skills in a practice session, by contrast, sharpens our grasp of all of them.” Mixed practice helps review material from several areas, sharpens differentiating among them, and trains the brain to match the problem types with appropriate strategies. This is especially helpful in a subject like mathematics.
            • How does sleep affect learning? The deep sleep that occurs in the first half of the night is most important for consolidating and retaining hard facts – names, dates, formulas, concepts. So if you need to remember that kind of information, Carey recommends going to bed at your regular time to maximize deep sleep. But the kind of sleep we have in the early morning hours helps consolidate motor skills and creative thinking. If you need to perform creatively, whether it’s in math, science, writing, or music, you might stay up later and sleep in to maximize the effects of the second kind of sleep.
            • How about improving performance on longer-term creative projects? The proven method for a big, complicated project like a term paper is getting started as early as possible, chunking the work, and spreading it out over time. Doing this “activates the project in your mind,” says Carey, “and you’ll begin to see and hear all sorts of things in your daily life that are relevant. You’ll also be more tuned into what you think about those random, incoming clues.”
            • Are distractions from smartphones and social media a bad thing? Not unless you’re trying to give continuous focus to a lecture or some other sequential, connected learning experience. When you’re struggling to solve a problem, “a short study break – five, ten, twenty minutes to check in on Facebook, respond to a few e-mails, check sports scores – is the most effective technique learning scientists know of…” says Carey. “Distracting yourself from the task at hand allows you to let go of mistaken assumptions, reexamine the clues in a new way, and come back fresh.” Your brain will keep working on the problem offline, without your fixated, unproductive focus, and you’ll often have fresh insights when you return to it.
            • Can “freeing up the inner slacker” really be called a legitimate learning strategy? If by this we mean “appreciating learning as a restless, piecemeal, subconscious, and somewhat sneaky process that occurs all the time – not just when you’re sitting at a desk, face pressed into a book – then it’s the best strategy there is,” says Carey.

How We Learn by Benedict Carey (Random House, 2013, p. 223-228)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

To-Do Lists, What Not To Do

This article found in the Havard Business Review is rich in both advice and economic concepts. This is helpful to both teacher and student. I cannot wait to share this with my classes. This shows economics being used to better people's personal lives, and not just graphs and money.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Page One Economics

If you are looking for articles and activities about any concept, Page One Economics is a place to start your search. This service is put on by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


If you have not seen IOUSA, I would strongly suggest it. I show this shorter (30 minute) clip to my economics students. It is a bipartisan look at our debt and suggest reasons it exists and what to do to fix it. You can find a viewing guide here. This guide is for the full movie. I always tell my students they will leave both angry and charged to do something.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Inviting Uncertainty into the Classroom

I love this article because it is one of the many reasons I love teaching economics. There are so many wonderful activities that can and should be done in a high school economics classroom. Now, most of the activities will go as planned, but maybe they should not. I like inserting uncertainty and some chaos into any simulation I do because it forces students to adjust. Economics is all about problem-solving.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

AP Macroeconomics Course

One of the biggest obstacles to starting up an AP macroeconomics course, is knowledge of the course content. Teachers either think they need to major in economics to teach it, or people believe you have to have a math degree. Neither is true. Because of the knowledge problem, there are resources to get comfortable with the information. A "free" course can be found here. If I can teach it, anyone can.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Teaching Credit

The Kansas City Federal Reserve has some wonderful activities. One of which is their series on teaching credit. These are lessons that are group based. It is so important to teach this concept as many of our students do not understand the power of compound interest and how much they will actually be paying back for that taco they charged two years ago. I would have them read this in addition to the lesson.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Free Webnire, Banking System

Experience and explore the Hands on Banking® program, aligned with Common Core State Standards as well as national and state standards for mathematics, economics and personal finance, that can help your students sharpen their personal finance skills and build the foundation for a brighter financial future. You will learn about new turnkey resources including engaging activities from basic ic banking to investing. New materials will be shared and provided to participants.
Presenter: Mia Russell, Ph. D.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

YouTube Channel

So I was asked to use Doceri to record my lectures and make them available for students who might be absent that day. Since I will be posting them anyway, I decided to make a YouTube channel out of it. Check it out. I only have 2 videos up thus far, but there will be more as the semester progresses.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Investing in a College Education

I like bringing up controversial subjects, both here and in class. It makes things are memorable and students feel like you are being honest with them. This is no different. In the school in which I work 99% of students are accepted and will attend, a four-year college. I know that that is not the norm. For some students it is a decision of making money now, for others, it can be a question of how to pay for college, and still, others might not be aware of what it means to get a college degree. Though I would argue that college is not for everyone, most people do benefit from a college education. I like showing the video above when talking about opportunity cost. I then go to the National Council for Economic Education for some great lessons on a college degree. I like giving students all of the information possible before making a decision. This can lead to some great discussions. In addition, you can explore the questions of:

If a college education is so great, should we use tax money to pay for it?

What kind of degrees is worth it?

When he talks about the billionaires, is the reason those are well-known stories is that they are rare?

What kind of jobs are available for those who do not go to college?

When are vocational skills the right fit?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

8 Skills Every High School Student Should Have

I was reading this article from the School Superintendents Association and found in interesting what skills the author thought every 18-year old should have. Here is the list of the eight:







It got me to thinking, if a class on economics was designed correctly, we can teach all of these skills. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Economics Review Games

If you are looking for some great economics review games, check out this website. In addition to the review games, there are explanations of concepts and graphs. This is a one-stop-shop to all things economics.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

National CEE Conference

For those who are both new to teaching economics and veteran teachers, I would suggest looking into attending the 56th annual financial literacy and economic education conference put on by the National Council for Economic Education. There are a number of extremely helpful workshops as well a teachers and councils from around the country there to learn from. Click here to attend. If you need help raising funds, they have set up a Crowdfunding page here. If you are able to attend, I would strongly suggest it. You will get almost more resources than you know what to do with.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Teaching Monetary and Fiscal Policy

ECONnections Webinar

Date: Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017
When: 3-4 p.m. CT | 4–5 p.m. ET
            4:15-5:15 p.m. CT | 5:15–6:15 p.m. ET
Location: Your Computer

High school social studies teachers, are you looking for some great resources for your economics and government courses to help your students understand fiscal and monetary policy? Join us for this webinar. Economic education experts will point you to a variety of materials to enhance your instruction and better engage your students. The resources from several Federal Reserve banks include print lessons and publications, infographics, videos, audios, online courses, and more!

This webinar is free. Participants will receive a certificate for one hour of professional development upon completion of the webinar. To accommodate those living in different time zones, we are offering the same webinar at two separate times. Please select the appropriate link below to register for the session you plan to attend.
After registration, you will receive an email with directions on how to connect to the webinar.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Naked Money

I know that many economics teachers, including myself, use Charles Wheelan's Naked Economics as a supplementary reading in our introductory courses. He has a new book out, Naked Money that is a great book about monetary policy and the Federal Reserve. I am using it in my AP macroeconomics class. If you are new to teaching economics and want to learn about what money is, monetary policy, and the workings of the Federal Reserve, this is a great and understandable read, if you have been teaching economics for awhile and want to go deeper into why we do not have a gold standard anymore and the history of monetary policy in the United States, as well as FOREX markets, this book provides many thought provoking ideas.  Either way, it is worth picking up.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Core Concept Cards

If you have not seen them yet, both the St. Louis Federal Reserve and the Kansas City Federal Reserve Banks offer wonderful teaching resources. I have blogged before about the website, Econlowdown, which is run out of the St. Louis Fed, and offers a wide range of online modules for high school students. This resource out of the Kansas City Federal Reserve, is great to use with middle school and high school students. These concept cards work great for test review, and can even be customized.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Future Trends Forum with Special Guest Jeff Selingo

Welcome back! For many of us, we return to the classroom in the next few weeks. I will try and update the blog at least once a week on Mondays. Some weeks I will have more to post so I will post twice that week. My first post this school year deals with a newsletter/blog that posts free forums each week. The forums are interesting and have to do with trends in education. This week's forum is about future trends in higher education. This is a great topic for those who teach students at any age since it will affect each student that decides to carry on his/her education. You can RSVP here.

For those who start back this week, or already have, I wish you the best this school year. For those who start back later this month, or after Labor Day, be safe and enjoy the rest of your break.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Budgets and Debt

If you feel like depressing your students, or getting them all kinds of fired up, I would suggest having them read this article and watching this video. We are talking about debt in my class and this always leaves them walking out of the room talking so very good economics. You can also show them the US debt clock which will also depress them. I tell them they are the solution to the problem, so they need to start thinking about now.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

26 Economics Games

This is a wonderful resource that I know I will be using for review this year and games next year. I just starting exploring all that this site has to offer. Jacob Reed who teaches in California made this site.

Monday, April 17, 2017


I am assuming that, much like me, you have had your spring break and are now back for the home stretch of the school year. I hope everyone had a restful time and is ready to tackle what can be the most difficult time of the year to teach. If you have not signed up for EdTechTeam's email, you should. There are a number of events and books about tech in the classroom on their website. I might have some summer reading ahead of me found on their newly released books tab of their website.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fi$H Economics

This is a fun resource that explains so many concepts of economics. There are a ton of resources here. The videos are engaging and the lesson plans are simple to follow. Enjoy! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Humans Need Not Apply

We are covering factor markets in my classes. This video came up and it led to some great conversation. I disagree with the video, but it does illustrate the fact that we are training students for jobs that are not yet created and the need for them to be thinking outside of the box. Economics taught right does just this. Here is an article that refutes what is brought up in the video.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

CEE Online Classes

If you are looking for lesson plans, many of which can be taught in a US History class, you need look no further than the online CEE classes. These webinars You have to register for the classes. I am looking at the "mini-economy" in my classroom. I always have liked to idea of making my classroom into a functioning mini-economy to be able to illustrate all of the topics we cover in class. There are a number of webinars to choose from, so pick the best one for what you do. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Everyday Economics - Money

I know I have posted about the resources from the Federal Reserve, but this one about money might be my favorite. My students struggle with the concept of the value of money and from where the value is derived. In addition, this can be pared down to middle school and ramped up to AP and the money multiplier. Explore the whole page, but this lesson on money is a keeper.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Economics in One Day

I love the courses that the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) offers. This one looks like a great one. From those whose principals have asked them to teach economics, a course you may have never taken in your life, from those who have taught economics for years, this class looks like it will be helpful. It is a self-pacing class so no need to have to set aside a full day to take the course.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fractional Reserve Banking and Money Creation

Online Professional Development:
Fractional Reserve Banking and Money Creation

ImageFrom our counterparts at the
Philadelphia Fed:
 In this three-hour online professional development program, you will be introduced to the “Case of the Gigantic $100,000 Bill” lesson and learn innovative ways to teach about fractional reserve banking and money creation in the middle and high school classroom. Through a series of four professionally produced videos, we will show you how to teach the lesson to students and provide you with valuable teaching tips. You will practice fractional reserve banking and money creation content in a series of short, online problem sets and participate with other educators and the program’s instructors in online discussion boards. You can complete the work at your own pace as long as you complete all of your work by March 27.
There are no prerequisites for this program. Participants who complete the program will receive a certificate for 3.0 hours of professional development credit issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (Professional development certificates will be issued on March 29, 2017.)

Self-paced Online:
Monday, February 27, through Monday, March 27, 2017

Open to teachers for grades K‒12 and college faculty

Register Online at or

Registration Deadline
February 23, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tariffs, Export Taxes and More

This article appeared in the New York Times today. The article, once you get into it, talks about supply, demand, and prices, as well the effects of taxes. The article is written by Paul Krugman, so it has a political bent to it and the start of it is very partisan; however, it does make for the start of a good conservation. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


This is a great video from The Economist that explains the different types of taxes and the history of taxation. It is a short clip that can be a great start to any macro class.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Cost of Raising a Child

I showed this article to my classes and it started a great conversation about opportunity costs, scarcity, and decision making. There is a great line about economies of scale, which my students are not there yet. I also told the students to go home and thank their parents for forgoing other things in order to give them life and raise them!   

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Economists versus the Economy

If you work in a school like mine, you are back today. Happy New Year! Others were fortunate enough to have this week off. Either way, if you are looking to brush up on some economic theory, this is a good article. You need little economic background to understand this, but after reading the article, you should have a good understanding of some different philosophies of the economy. Also, it is a short read. Enjoy!