15 econ lessons, political cartoons, and PD designed to make you and your kids smarter

This week’s guest post is written by Angela Howdeshell, Vice President for Programs and Administration for the Kansas Council for Economic Education.


The current political tension has created many “teachable moments” for helping students understand many of the economic issues facing our nation. These issues are not always taught in classrooms but this is a great time to help students clarify their own thinking and ultimately, become more informed citizens and future voters. The issues are very complex and require our students to begin to dig into these topics in order to understand not only the challenges faced and the impact of choices made in the past, but also to understand the challenges our nation faces today and the impact of the choices we make now.

2015-econedlinklogoIntegrating economic and personal finance concepts in K-12 classrooms is necessary to help young people develop into knowledgeable, thinking, and active citizens and voters. As school budgets tighten and teachers try to make the most of their time, economics can be a great way to reinforce many other subject matters while exposing the students to real-life economics and personal finance scenarios. The Council for Economic Education (CEE) has many free lessons available to any K-12 teacher at no cost. The CEE has developed an online resource called EconEdLink that is the gateway to finding these free resources. The resources include games, calculators, videos, online lessons, professional development & more.   Be sure to create a free account so you can keep track of your favorite lessons.

ufr-wlg-imageThanks to a partnership between the Council for Economic Education and the Teachers College, Columbia University, high school teachers now have access to a new series of 15 stand-alone lessons, Understanding Fiscal Responsibility (UFR), that are cross-disciplinary so they can be taught in economics, civics/government or U.S. history classes. These lessons are also available on EconEdLink at no cost.

UFR is a nonpartisan and inquiry-based curriculum that does not try to steer students toward any one conclusion about the federal budget, national debt, or budget deficit. The lessons are designed in a way that enables students to learn about the issues, analyze their significance and judge their consequences.   Most of the lessons begin with a political cartoon to engage the students. You will also see the use of primary sources throughout with a step-by-step guide through the lesson implementation. Each stand-alone lesson can easily be shortened if necessary. The cross-disciplinary collection of lessons addresses such dilemmas as:

  • What costs and trade-offs are we willing to accept to ensure the benefits of income security to Social Security recipients? (Economics: Social Security and the National Debt)
  • What level of medical care should the federal government provide for the elderly, and what trade-offs, including increasing the deficit and debt, are we willing to make to provide that care? (Civics/Government: Medicare and the National Debt)
  • Social Security Act of 1935: Did the creation of a federally administered old-age pension program support or threaten American values and traditions? (U.S. History: The History of Social Security)

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-4-42-19-pm screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-4-41-45-pm screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-4-41-31-pm screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-4-41-25-pm

15 Lessons (stand-alone):

  • Social Security & the National Debt (Econ Focus)
  • Medicare and the National Debt (Econ Focus)
  • The Economics of National Security (Econ Focus)
  • Taxation & the National Debt (Econ Focus)
  • Balancing the Federal Budget (Econ Focus)
  • Social Security Governance, and the National Debt (Civics Focus)
  • Medicare Governance, & the National Debt (Civics Focus)
  • National Security Goals, & the National Debt (Civics Focus)
  • Political Beliefs & the Federal Budget (Civics Focus)
  • Rhetoric (Civics Focus)
  • The History of Social Security (U.S. History Focus)
  • The History of Medicare (U.S. History Focus)
  • The Federal Reserve System Overview Lesson (U.S. History Focus)
  • The Panic of 1893 and the Election of 1896 (U.S. History Focus)
  • President Jackson and the Veto of the Second National Bank
    (U.S. History Focus)

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-4-47-55-pmThe Kansas Council for Economic Education is offering several brief online trainings to help Kansas teachers quickly find their way around the format of the lessons and how to use some of the interactive resources that are a little more complex. These trainings and the accompanying materials are made available to teachers through the generous support of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Council for Economic Education. There are a variety of dates and times to choose from over the next few weeks so check the schedule below and be sure to join us for a 20-minute webinar.

View the schedule and register online.

Angela Howdeshell
Vice President for Programs and Administration
Kansas Council for Economic Education

About Glenn Wiebe

I work as a social studies specialist at ESSDACK, an educational service center in Hutchinson, Kansas. Before coming to ESSDACK, I taught middle school US History and higher ed social science classes.

Leave a Reply