Guest Blogger: Jessica Donaldson – Pre-engineering teacher, Berkeley County School District in Moncks Corner, SC
There are times when my students have trouble grasping economic concepts. But when those topics are transformed into an independent, interactive, and relevant learning experience, things definitely get easier. That experience is what Econ Essentials and the Facts About Food module aims to bring to the economics classroom.
Econ Essentials is a program designed to help high school students learn about economic principles, made possible by a partnership with CME Group and Discovery Education. This free program is aligned with high school economic standards and provides interactive resources to educators and students in grades 9 through 12.
Give students the reins to learn at their own pace
Each student controls their own learning pace throughout the module, with easily accessible vocabulary definitions and a glossary. As a teacher, I really liked the ability to easily view a definition without having to leave the page students are viewing. However, if needed, I could quickly review the glossary terms with students to prepare them for the module, which would be great to use with any of my struggling learners.
Break down big concepts with delicious examples
This Econ Essentials module does a great job of explaining concepts like risk and supply and demand through short videos. A personal favorite was “Risk on the Ranch”, which takes a look at the many factors that impact a rancher raising beef cattle ranging from weather to gas prices in an effort to help students understand how the price of the steak can be affected by what happens while the cattle are in the ranchers’ care.
Put their new knowledge to the test
As students progress through the lesson, they have opportunities to answer questions. These short questions are checks for understanding that help students to think about what they have learned.
The end of the module asks students to simulate advising a farmer, encouraging them to make decisions based on the information that they have learned in the Facts About Food module. This scenario can be played again in the event students want to see the results of different decisions and how the farmer was impacted. The lesson closes with a post-assessment which asks students to select multiple correct answers- something that many of us look for in an interactive question/answer tool.
In addition to three digital learning modules, Econ Essentials provides other tools and resources to support economics in the high school classroom, such as a three-part mini-documentary series following people who are shaping the world’s economics as we know it. Teachers can implement the video series in their instruction, complete with an Educator Companion Guide. Or explore investing concepts by visiting the Futures Fundamentals, which will take you and your students to a number of other interactive elements to explore.