Sunday, December 20, 2009

Teaching Tips for AP Economics

Summary: More tips for enhancing student achievement.

On a previous blog, I listed 10 tips from the College Board and four of mine. I continue the list.

15. Read blogs from other AP Economics teachers. Here is a sample of the blogs I read through an RSS feed. MV=PQ, David Mayer, Jason Welker's Blog, Greg Mankiw's Blog, Marginal Revolution, and Gene Hayward.

On these blogs you will find lots of resources. For example, on Jason Welker's blog there are study guides that you can download so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Also, during crunch times, you can extract PowerPoint lectures and assignments. On David Mayer's blog there are numerous how-to videos. On Tim Schilling's blog, MV=PQ, you will find thousands of links to poignant topics in economics.

16. Start a blog. You can use Blogger or Word Press. Another ancillary advantage of writing a blog is that you can pair with Amazon and make commission when readers buy blogs linked to your blog. Many teachers I know say that they don't have time to blog. But, blogging helps you to think efficiently and actually improve the speed at which you teach difficult concepts. I post my lectures to my blog and Facebook for students who want to review or who were absent. Blogging also gives your teaching a sense of authority and purpose.

17. Have study groups. Every Wednesday night, I meet my students from 6 pm until 7:30 pm to teach, reteach, and help them complete assignments. It's been during this time that many of my students have extended their learning by exploring topics of interest to them. If you are a rigor and relevance disciple, then this is exactly the kind of real world application mandated by the Quadrant D lessons. In my study group, Jing Hao once wrote a paper on dual labor markets that gained her entrance to Simpson College. It was during a study group that Rick Stammer agrued vehemently about how a tax would affect the marginal cost curve of a perfect competitor. Rick is now teaching principles of economics at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa.

18. Use the College Board list serve for AP Microeconomics of AP Macroeconomics. David Anderson moderates the best exchange of ideas and pedagogy on the web. If you have not registered for the electronic discussion group, click here. The Council for Economic Education has a discussion board moderated by Kevin Smith here. You'll have to register first then you will receive updates as they are posted. These discussion boards are a great way to connect with other professionals. I have used the EDG for the College Board to have my questions answered.

19. Be like Ben Zander. Ben says to be a contributor. Find a way to add value to the class. Students often say they like the way I lecture because it's entertaining and instructive. They like my original explanations of topics. For example, when discussing the production possibilities curve, I show them an example of how an iPod can store 100 songs. If 50 of the songs are rap and 50 are classical cello, then if I want to add one more classical song, I will have to give up 1 rap. My examples are often rehashed from other bloggers like Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an author. Visit him at


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