Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reffonomics

Summary: Dick Brunell and Steven Reff have flash animations imbedded in the online textbook to complement AP Economic instruction.

Where do you get online instruction that complements yours?  Try Reffonomics.  For years I have used this site to enhance my instruction.  You can use this site as a resource for students who have been absent or as a study aid for the AP Exam.  One year, I had a student seriously injured in a car collision and was physically confined to a bed and later a wheelchair.  This student found all of the help she needed on this site.  Her tutor recorded the results of her quizzes and helped her manipulate the interactive graphs.

Some of my students used this site as a substitute for a textbook preferring to carry less in their backpack. 

The site is written in a user-friendly tone and often contains subtle humor in the questions.  In the past, the authors have made available a final exam that I found greatly improved the performance of my students on the AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics exams. 

When you visit the website, be sure to sign the guestbook!






About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, Iowa. He is an EconEdLink.org author and blogs at Mikeroeconomics.  As a utility maximizer, he takes every opportunity to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  Mr. Fladlien will be presenting at the GATE annual Conference on October 8, 2009. 
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Web 2.0 Tool for AP Economics: Welker's Wikinomics

Summary: Mr. Jason Welker's blog is profiled as a Web 2.0 tool for your AP Economics course.


Mr. Welker maintains an award-winning blog for teachers of AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics.  The homepage is here

Welker's Wikinomics contains lecture notes, a forum for debate, blog entries, and links to research.  If you are looking for fantastic study guides, Mr. Welker has every topic available for download here.  He will be presenting a workshop on using Web 2.0 tools in the economics classroom at the GATE Annual Conference next week. 

Please visit his site and take some time to see all of the resources available.  You will find PowerPoint presentations, Smart Board lesson plans, intelligent blogs (some of his blogs are co-authored with Steven Latter and Joe Hauet) and tips on how to teach difficult topics.  I have used his help desk for questions I have had on using technology in the classroom.

I have found that working with other professionals to share best practices enhances both my and my students' human capital.  Perhaps a better term is collaborative learning.

No matter what we call it, sharing information and teaching tips helps prepare our students for college.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, Iowa. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and blogs at Mikeroeconomics.  Mr. Fladlien believes that micro loans will raise GDP in developing countries.
Monday, September 28, 2009

Get Your AP Economics Questions Answered at the GATE Discussion Board

Summary: GATE provides a discussion forum for economics teachers, membership is free.


The Global Association of Teachers of Economics, GATE, has a forum devoted to discussing economics (and personal finance).  The forum is broken into several categories:

Announcements/General Discussion -- Provides announcements and allows discussions on general items related to the GATE organization, its members, and economics and personal finance education.

Council for Economic Education Programs and Materials -- Information on Council for Economic Education resources, plus provides GATE members the opportunity to discuss the usage of these materials.

International -- Discussions on international-related topics (study tours, teaching abroad, etc.).

High School -- Topics related to the teaching of economics and personal finance at the high school level. 

Middle School -- Discussions on topics related to the teaching of economics and personal finance at the middle school level.

Elementary -- This forum allows discussions on topics related to the teaching of economics and personal finance at the elementary level.

Professional Development -- All things related to professional development -- in-person workshop opportunities, online opportunities, PD requirements, etc.

To login and join the discussions, you must become a member of GATE.  It's easy -- and free -- to sign up. Another benefit? You'll receive discounts on materials like Virtual Economics.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, Iowa. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics blog.  Mr. Fladlien will be presenting at the GATE Annual Conference on October 8 on how to extract economic data from the FRED database.
Friday, September 25, 2009

Use 'The Regional Economist' in Your AP Macroeconomics Course

Summary: Use current economic information complied by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank in your AP Macroeconomics course.


All of the Federal Reserve Banks have publications that AP Economics educators can subscribe to for current information on monetary trends, banking, employment, and growth.  My favorite is The Regional Economist, which is published four times a year.

I have found the writing and the data to be of immediate use in my classroom.

For the current issue, click here. In the right hand column, you'll also find "Subscription Options," where you can subscribe to St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank publications by Print, Email or RSS, and "Additional Fed Publications," which includes a publications catalog and Fed In Print, an index of Federal Reserve Research.

All of these resources are a valuable addition to your AP Macroeconomics course.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics.  Currently, Mr. Fladlien is worried about the lack of rain in India that threatens the daily lives of millions.
Thursday, September 24, 2009

Find Multimedia Content for Your AP Economics Course

Summary:  Multimedia content can add a much-needed interactive component to your AP Economics course. This brief clip from the Virtual Economics CD-ROM shows you how to use multimedia content to teach specialization. 




Virtual Economics contains 51 multimedia concept demonstrations that you can integrate into all topics in AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics.  The short clip above gives you a "taste" of Specialization. 

This CD-ROM contains a lesson plan for every need, and is well worth the $100 price tag. Once you own it, check out the clip on Metallica lead singer Lars Ulrich discussing property rights.  I even used this Lars Ulrich clip in my law class when we were discussing Napster and illegal downloads. 
About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, Iowa. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics. In 2008, Mr. Fladlien was a finalist for the ISEA Teacher of the Year.  His wife, Kathy and his son Jason add both utility and a present value of future expected utilities.

Using a Livescribe Pen to Record a Lecture in AP Economics

Summary: An AP Microeconomics lecture on the Price Elasticity of Demand is recorded and shared on Facebook and Blogger for students who are absent.


It's homecoming week in Muscatine.  Many of my students are absent with activities.  How do I make up all of the classwork and discussion with those who have to decorate the field and meet with Rotary?

I have a student record the lecture then upload to Facebook and my blog.  If you watch the video here, you will see how this magical (okay, it's not quite so magical, but it is pretty nifty) Livescribe Pen has made my job easier. 

When I hear people discuss technology, I almost always hear a discussion about a new product such as this one. When we teach our students about technology in an AP Economics course, we talk about producing more GDP with the same amount of resources.

The Livescribe Pen a real-life example of producing more with fewer resources. Technology can also be an idea like moving the resources closer to the end user.  I have found that students like the safety net that the Livescribe Pen "technology" provides because they know they can always hear the lecture when it is convenient for them (and they don't have to feel guilty about missing class... like they felt guilty anyway). 

I have always said that a new invention will be used unintended by the inventor.  My students eventually will find another use for the Livescribe Pen that will enhance their learning beyond make-up work.  If you use  the Livescribe Pen in your class, please share your experiences in the comments section.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, Iowa. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics. In 2008, he was a finalist for ISEA Teacher of the Year.
Sunday, September 20, 2009

Excise Taxes in AP Microeconomics

Summary: Activity 21 from Advanced Placement Economics is discussed with a challenge.

AP Microeconomics assumes that the government places the tax on the producer.  The supply curve will shift to the left by an amount determined by the elasticity of the demand curve.  In Advanced Placement Economics, available from the Council for Economic Education, Activity 21, Lesson 4, contains an outstanding activity. 

In this activity, who actually pays the tax is discussed and calculated.  I would like to offer a challenge to all who have used this activity.  The challenge is, "Explain why the area of the dead-weight loss  does not explain the uncollected revenue loss in answer (I)? 

I have tried at various times over the past eight years to explain the reasoning given in the answer key, but with no sucess. 

Advanced Placement Economics is now in its third edition.  My personal feeling is that the workbook can stand alone without a textbook.  A skillful teacher could have students use the web to read about AP Economic concepts then complete the workbook assignments.  If your school district is cutting back on the purchase of textbooks to save money, consider adopting this workbook.  Of course, one can find all of the workbook and more on Virtual Economics.






About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, Iowa. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics.  Mr. Fladlien is a frequent reader of Marginal Revolution and Greg Mankiw's Blog.  As a finalist for the ISEA Teacher of the Year in 2008, he believes that students learn by being actively involved in the learning.
Saturday, September 19, 2009

Livescribe Pen Enhances AP Economics Instruction

Summary: A useful tool for recording lecures.


When a student has to be absent from an AP Economics lesson, make up is as easy as a click with the Livescribe pen.  All you have to do is have a student record your presentation.  Later, you can upload your notes to a blog or Facebook. 

When I have used this pen, I have noticed that my student recorders often pause during interruptions so my recorded presentation is often shorter than the one presented in class.  For busy AP economics students, time making up lectures is minimalized. 





About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics blog.  Mr. Fladlien was a finalist for the ISEA Teacher of the Year in 2008. 
Friday, September 18, 2009

Heard it Through the Grapevine

Summary: Author of several economic textbooks and teaching products shares his ideas for effective teaching.

Dr. William A. McEachern publishes The Teaching Economist twice a year.  I enjoy reading his newletter, now in its twentieth year, and thought readers of this blog would too.  A section of the newsletter, "Ideas for the Grapevine" , focuses on 'attention-getting examples, ways to "sensationalize" economic ideas' and is my favorite part of the newsletter.

Teaching AP Economics presents challenges beyond the textbook.  AP students often have a schedule jam packed with activities.  Many times the ideas in the newsletter aid the teacher in presenting the material in a way that is faster and improves retention and recall. 






About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics.  In 2008, Mr. Fladlien was a finalist for the ISEA Teacher of the Year.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Textbooks for AP Economics


Summary: AP reader and teacher, Wayne McCaffery shares his exhaustive research on Acorn standards and textbooks


If you are selecting a textbook for AP microeconomics or AP macroeconomics, you might want to consider the exhaustive research that Mr. Wayne McCaffery has complied relating economic concepts to textbooks. (The graphic can be enlarged by clicking on the image. )

Mr. McCaffery teaches a summer session on AP Macroeconomics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At this summer institute, he made available several different textbooks for review. His matrix is a guide for new teachers when considering what textbook to adopt. In my first year of teaching AP Economics, I was fortunate to have Amy Shrout as an instructor at the University of Iowa leading a summer session. Ms. Shrout gave me a matrix like the one here to make my selection easier. I have forever thanked both for helping through that first year.

I have used the Arnold, Krugman-Wells, and McConnell-Brue texts will equal success. I think a textbook is a teaching tool. How a teacher employs the text might be what MIT professor, Eric von Hipple meant when he discussed innovation as "End-user innovation." A skillful teacher can give the textbook a deeper meaning and go beyond the words on the page.

I want to thank Mr. McCaffery for his contribution to this blog. He is a prolific contributor on the AP discussion board and still takes the time to answer my questions.









About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics and iMacroeconomics VB blogs.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to Teach Comparative Advantage in AP Economics

Summary:

A short video showing how to use the "output/over" method to compute the comparative advantage in AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics.




A difficult concept for students to learn is comparative advantage. Students have to learn how to calculate the relative cost as measured in opportunity cost between two production alternatives. After showing the students how to use a production possibilities curve and calculate the opportunity cost, I often show the output over method. The video will make clear how to calculate the opportunity cost of good X in terms of good Y when comparing "how much" two individuals can make. For the teacher who wants an in-depth explanation, I recommend Activity 6, Lesson 3 in the Advanced Placement Economics workbook. This activity is also available on the Virtual Economics CD-ROM. This compilation has every lesson on economics available for immediate printing. I use Virtual Economics in my law class too.

The beauty of teaching comparative advantage is that students can apply the concept in either macro or microeconomics. Students get a huge "bang for the buck" when they learn this concept.

If you have other suggestions on how to teach this concept, please leave comments.
video

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics and iMacroeconomics VB blogs.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wall Street Journal Blog

Summary: A link to WSJ blog

Real Time Economics, a blog by the venerable Wall Street Journal, is here. The subtitle for the blog bills itself as "Economic insight and analysis from The Wall Street Journal. Real Time Economics offers exclusive news, analysis and commentary on the economy, Federal Reserve policy and economics. The Wall Street Journal's Phil Izzo and Sudeep Reddy are the lead writers, with contributions from other Journal reporters and editors." With 20 main categories, the blog is updated several times daily. Real Time Economics would add insight and credibility to any discussion.







About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics and iMacroeconomics VB blogs.
Sunday, September 13, 2009

Using Economics to Make Informed Decisions

Summary: Resources for informed economic discussion of normative topic.

Imagine a student asking you this question in your class, "Should the government nationalize health care?"

This hot topic will have students offering their opinion, what they have heard, and what their parents are saying. Students in your AP class will know what the politically correct answer "should" be too.

A course in economics gives students the tools to analyze a problem and draw reasonable conclusions from their analysis. In this post I will fill your toolbox with the tools to analyze health care as well as any problem in which market participants must make a choice.

Students should understand the difference between "normative" and "positive" economics. Students should also discuss the role of incentives in the market system. As an example of how to stimulate class discussion, ask the question, "How will a government run health care system change incentives in the health care sector?"

Students should understand the role of economic freedom and choice on GDP growth. The textbook, "From Plan to Market: Teaching Ideas for Social Studies, Economics, and Business Classes" ISBN 1-56183-495-5, Lesson 3 Political and Economic Freedoms presents students with the objectives of incentives in capital formation and saving. Specifically, this lesson address how the former Soviet Union allowed private property rights and market transactions to influence GDP growth. As a catalyst for discussion, have students list the benefits and costs of government run health care. In this activity, students can use the PACED decision making grid.

Students should be able to distinguish between public and private goods. An excellent resource to aid instruction is "Public vs. Private Goods" in the Advanced Placement Economics workbook by John Morton. Here students learn about goods with shared consumption and why the government will provide goods that the private market has no incentive to produce.

Finally, a teacher can lead a discussion on decision making. For example, what is the "best" way to make a decision. Is a public opinion vote the best way to distribute health care? Should the government use the "greatest good" principle? In other words, if nationalized health care provides the most good for the greatest number of citizens, then the action is "good" and should be provided by the government.

The resources mentioned above form a backbone for all decision making. Health care was chosen for its relevance and does not reflect the opinion of the Council for Economic Education or the author. If you have more resources that help hone rational decision making, please leave a comment.







About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics and iMacroeconomics VB blogs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Summary: Weekly outline for teaching Microeconomics.

This week I covered Morton activities, 13, 14, 15, 15, 17, and 18 in microeconomics. I use Virtual Economics for easy electronic access to the activities. I have found that the discussion on each activity reinforces the textbook concepts. As a wrap-up to Activity 15, Demand and Marginal Utility, I explain marginal decision making. A pencast of my wrap-up is here. If you use Capstone: Exemplary Lessons for High School Economics, Unit 4, Lesson 23, "Do the Math" emphasizes using marginal decision making in all activities.

What acronyms do you use to help students remember demand and supply shifters? In the next blog, I'll tell you mine.





About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics and iMacroeconomics VB blogs.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Resources for Educators

Summary: A site link with economic resources organized by category.


A comprehensive list of resources for teachers of economics can be found here. On this site you will find news media, organizations and associations, Internet guides, software, teaching resources, blogs, commentaries, and podcasts and more. The site is edited by Bill Goffe Dept. of Economics, SUNY Oswego. If you want a game to simulate or illustrate an economic concept, you'll find it on this site.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an EconEdLink.org author, and also publishes the Mikeroeconomics and iMacroeconomics VB blogs.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jason Welker's Blog

Mr. Welker challenges his students to read and comment on economic topics. Here is a perfect example how he uses computers to enhance classroom learning.
Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week's Lesson Plan

How does the pace of your class compare to mine? I start building fundamentals with reinforcement. I believe that when a student is frustrated on an exam question, they will start making mistakes. When a student starts to break down, I want them to fall back to fundamentals that the student knows is absolutely true. I hope students can predict right answers because they are thinking in line with generally accepted economic fundamentals. With that philosophy, I covered demand this week. The topics I covered were:

1. Diminishing Marginal Utility
2. Income Effect
3. Substitution Effect
4. Change in Quantity Demanded
5. Change in Demand
6. Accurate graphing of the demand curve on a white board
7. Law of Demand

I reinforced concepts 1 through 7 with Morton activities, 13, 14, and 15. I also assigned textbook reading from my text, Krugman-Wells, and workbook activities that accompany the text.

A typical week includes three days of lecture and two days of class time work. My class also meets on Wednesday night on a volunteer basis to extra work.

How does your schedule differ from mine? What are your thoughts on giving students class time to work on assignments?
Saturday, September 5, 2009

FRQ

Social networking is a way of learning from some of the best. On his website, David Mayer, provides many resources for all levels of teaching expertise on economics. A rubric of both micro and macro free response questions is on his site here.

I have found that the best teachers who signal their passion often make a long-lasting impact on their students. Signaling might include using different resources and multiple learning channels. I recommend Virtual Economics in addition to the textbook.

Mr. Tim Schilling maintains a blog devoted to ancillary resources with many valuable links to articles and videos. His blog is valuable for all levels of economics.

Free Response Questions

The free response questions on the AP test are an application of economic concepts and not a long normative expository. Many of the "essay" questions involve short sentence answers, interpretation of graphs, and explain graphs and concepts. The CollegeBoard provides generous examples of free response questions along with scoring guidelines and suggested answers. Questions from all macro tests from 1999 until 2009 can be found here. Microeconomics is here.

It has been my experience that the free response questions integrate the entire semester's content, so I leave two weeks at the end of the semester for working on the essay part of the test. I make sure that students can draw graphs that include directional arrows and accurate labels. I went to Menards and bought white paneling and had the industrial tech department cut the paneling into 2 X 2 sections. I use those sections as whiteboards for students to practice graphing. This is how I make sure that students use the appropriate labels, arrows, and curves.
Students like to be able to erase mistakes immediately. I have also found that working on the essay questions solidifies content and allows students see the relevance of the course structure.

If you use the free response questions, make sure you do not post the questions electronically. Also, you can apply to be a test reader too!
Friday, September 4, 2009

Princeton Review


The Princeton Review is an excellent source for AP Micro and Macro review. The content is explained clearly and can be learned and relearned quickly.

The Amazon product description reads in part,

All you need to study and prepare for the AP Economics exams is in this test-prep book — Cracking the AP Economics Macro & Micro Exams, 2010 Edition includes:

•2 full-length AP Economics practice tests with detailed explanations
•Proven test-taking strategies from the experts to help you score higher on your AP
•Review of all Economics AP topics covered, such as systems of government, economic decisions, firm production, costs, revenues and aggregate demand
•AP review questions in every chapter
•Tables, charts and diagrams to help you understand and retain even more for the test
•And much more!


I have used earlier versions of this guide with great success over the past 9 years.