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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back-to-school ideas

  • A recent New York Times article points out that many children's books teach economic concepts (hat tip to Alex Tabarrok). If that article piques your interest, the Council for Economic Education has a whole bookicon that provides examples of children's stories that can be used to teach economics, including questions for students and follow-up activities. There's also a 2007 article by Yana V. Rodgers, Shelby Hawthorne and Ronald C. Wheeler, "Teaching Economics Through Children's Literature in the Primary Grades," in The Reading Teacher 61(1), p.46-55. That article lists the 'top five' books for a number of specific concepts; the full list of several hundred titles can be found at http://econkids.rutgers.edu/, which is an entire website devoted to using children's literature to teach economics (also mentioned in a follow-up NYT post on Economix). I should point out that although the obvious audience for these sorts of lessons is younger children, I can also imagine using children's books as the basis for an assignment for older students (for example, give them a list of the books and have them identify the key economic concepts associated with each, thus reinforcing the idea that economics is everywhere).
  • Tutor2u describes a first-day "golf" game to see if students are familiar with current events, using an included powerpoint file (note: the file provided with that post focuses on the U.K. and European Union but questions could easily be adapted for American students). The general set-up for the game would work well for any team contest: each question has four answer choices and students can choose to submit only one response (an 'eagle' if they get it correct), or two possible answers (a birdie if one of the two is correct), or three answers (for par). If none of their answers are correct, they get bogeys. Looks like a neat approach!
  • If you aren't on the tch-econ mail-list (why aren't you?), you missed Bill Goffe's message about a set of videos by Dr. Stephen Chu (a cognitive psychologist) on how to study effectively. Chu uses cognitive science, what we know about how people learn, to explain not only what students should do but why. These would be great to show and discuss with college freshmen, though I also think they'd be useful to students at any level. The next time a student asks you how to do well in your class, I'd suggest pointing them to these videos.

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