As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, fall is the time for AIER’s trained teachers to implement their lesson ideas, developed at the Teach-the-Teachers workshop, in their classroom. This process is called field testing. This past summer, we collaborated with the Nebraska Council on Economic Education in bringing the program to Omaha. Today, I am reporting about the field test conducted at The Career Academy, in Lincoln, Neb., by Ms. Nicole Barrett, one of 16 participants in AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers Initiative in 2017 in Omaha.
The Career Academy is a three-year-old organization that provides educational courses on select disciplines for selected high school students. The result is a diverse group of students from various Lincoln-area campuses that come together for a focused learning experience that also provides them a college credit. This is a fine learning setting, and Nicole Barrett has great rapport with her students.
On Tuesday, September 26, Nicole taught macroeconomics to 11th and 12th graders. The topic of the class was money and inflation. Nicole utilized materials that AIER provided during the workshop in July. She addressed the functions of money, the equation of exchange (MV = PQ), and the definition of inflation and alternative measures of it, such as the Consumer Price Index and AIER’s Everyday Price Index. She was inspired by AIER to show videos, push students to work with real data, and explore tools and texts on our website, such as the Cost of Living Calculator and “EPI Methodology.” The students were engaged and receptive during the class.
Our stringent criteria for producing scientific-quality education research mandates that teachers send us data on students’ knowledge acquisition and on their satisfaction with the lesson. But before I analyze pre- and post-field test results, I read the reflection essay each teacher is required to submit. Ms. Barrett wrote that the summer workshop helped her better prepare to engage students in every class period. She feels she gained sufficient knowledge and confidence to come up with examples on the fly to relate economic concepts to pop culture, current events, and other things high school students are interested in. What excites her the most is students’ ability to understand how economics relates to their everyday lives. Nicole wrote, “We are able to talk about historic events, current events, pop culture, their future college plans, and relate these to the economic concepts and key principles. It is so invigorating to see this in practice.”
The value of AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers Initiative is not only in providing knowledge of economic concepts, but in showing the teachers how to teach them. The approach of finding opportunities to infuse economics into various disciplines is unique, and the feature of our program teachers cherish the most.
Picture by James L. Olsen, AIER voting member, who observed the lesson of Nicole Barrett at The Career Academy.
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