• Economics

    If you like, here is my final farewell to you. 

    Lesson Plan – June 1-5


    Financial Literacy

     DUE by 3pm, Friday, June 5.

    Overview: This week is it.  Your job is to organize your work, show it to your family for feedback and advice, and then write a final reflection.


    Materials: None





    20 minutes



    Here is the checklist I gave you at the beginning.  Use it to make sure you have everything.  Then, put everything into separate folders for each lesson (transportation, insurance, groceries, etc…).  In each folder you should put the relevant worksheet(s), reflection, and any articles or other resources I gave you.  You can get extras from my website if you need them.



    60 minutes

    Feedback and Advice


    Now, show the work to your parents/guardians.  Most specifically, walk through the budget worksheet with them.  They know you well.  Ask them for feedback.  Ask them for advice.  They have knowledge and wisdom you don’t.  During the conversation, ask them the questions below and write down their answers. 


    Parent/Guardian Reflection  When your portfolio is done, you and your parents/guardians should review it together.  Then, they need to respond to the following questions you ask them (you must write down their answers):  1) Are you glad I did this assignment?  Why or why not? 2) What do you think of my budget?  Is it realistic?  What should be changed, if anything?  3) Give three specific pieces of feedback.  They can be questions, concerns, comments, commendations, etc… 4) What financial advice do you have for me both now and in the future? 



    By 3pm Friday, June 5

    30 minutes



    Now, it’s time to reflect on the entire experience.  Answer the questions below.  Try to be explicit.  Write down what you think and what you know.  Writing it will help you remember it.  Write it all.


    Introduction to Your Portfolio  Your introduction should reflect on the following:  1) your views on money and your financial future prior to this unit; 2) what you learned in this unit; 3) the value of money to you, both good and bad; 4) your feelings regarding learning all this information (exciting, intimidating, empowering… )



    By 3pm Friday, June 5


    It is all due by 3pm on Friday, June 5.

    Lesson Plan – May 25-29


    Personal Financial Literacy


    Overview: This week is the final worksheet.  It’s also the biggest.  It is your Budget worksheet and it’s where you will put everything you’ve learned and then some.  Take your time, read the instructions, and figure stuff out.  Where does your money go?  How can you save more?  What does it take to live within your means?


    Materials: Budget Worksheet





    120 minutes



    Ok, this is the big’un.  There are 3+ pages in the worksheet and 6 pages in the instructions.  Read them well.  I’ve really tried to give thorough and meaningful instructions.  You will probably be able to make sense of it.  I've also made a video with me talking about it, though mostly the info is in the written instructions.  Please start on this today so that come Tuesday/Wednesday, you can come to the Zoom and ask questions.  I’ll be available via email, or if you want to make an appointment we can do that via Zoom. 


    It really isn’t that hard, but it requires attention to detail (like almost every job).  Pay attention and do it well.


    When you finish, do the reflection.  The instructions for that are on the overall portfolio sheet, but here they are again for your simplicity of use:


    The worksheet should be done neatly with numbers corresponding to the other worksheets in the portfolio.  Write a reflection on your budget that answers the following questions: 1) What did you learn from this exercise?  2) How would you change your budget if you suddenly got a 10% raise?  Or a 10% pay cut?  3) How would you change your budget if the economy were in a recession?  High inflation? Economic growth? 

    Budget Worksheet and Reflection


    Due Monday, June 1 by 3pm.


    Lesson Plan – May 18-22


    Personal Financial Literacy


    Overview: This week, we will learn about credit and investments.  It’s a lot, and much of it you aren’t likely to know.  Pay close attention as I try to explain it in video, and then ask me or your family questions.  There is a lot of detail, and your future financial security depends on it.

    Materials: Credit lecture, Credit Card worksheet, Credit Protection handout, Credit Report handout, Investing lecture, Investment worksheet, "If You Can" pamphlet




    60 minutes



    Watch the lecture.  (PPT or YouTube)  Pay close attention.  You have lots of control over your credit, but not complete control.


    After watching the lecture and reading the “Credit Protection” handout and the “Credit Report” handout consider:

    ·         How do you build your credit score?

    ·         How many and what type of credit cards should you have?  What fees, protections or benefits are included with each?

    ·         What credit loans are good for you?  Which ones are bad and should be paid off immediately?

    ·         How do you protect yourself?


    Then, shop for credit cards using the “Credit Card” worksheet.  While we are planning for 10 years from now generally, if you like, you can shop for a credit card that you want to get now or when you turn 18. 


    Write your Credit Reflection.  Keep in mind, this reflection is for all of credit, not just credit cards.


    Credit Card worksheet and Credit Reflection

    Due by Monday, May 25 3pm


    90 minutes



    Watch the video lecture.  (YouTube only)


    I usually give a lecture for Investments over several days because there is a lot.  But, that’s too much for many of you right now, so I have shortened both the lecture and the exercises we did with it (we’re not stock market trading, for example).  All I want is for you to learn some basic points:

    1.      The best investment is to get rid of high-interest debt.  Pay off credit cards or any other loans you may have that cost a lot in interest. 

    2.      Be careful taking out student loans in the near future: that specific type of debt never goes away and can be a big burden.  Know what you are doing before you sign.

    3.      Start investing early and often.  Invest as much as you can to make your capital resources start working for you.

    4.      Know what you’re buying.  Do your research and don’t trust people who have an incentive to deceive you (many financial advisors).

    5.      401k’s, Mutual Funds and real estate are the most likely and probably best investments for you through your life.

    6.      Pay attention to your goals: short-term or long-term makes a big difference.

    Do the worksheet.  It’s focused on figuring out which investments are best for your goals.

    Also, if you want, look at this pamphlet I downloaded and then uploaded for you.  It ain’t fun, but there is a lot of very good financial advice for you.

    Investments Reflection I’ve changed it some from the overall Financial Literacy Portfolio Instructions to better fit the shortened version:

    Answer the following questions: 1) Why would you choose different investments?  How do your investment decisions reflect your money personality, and how do they serve your goals and needs?  2) What are the opportunity costs of your choices?  3) If the economy were to go into a recession, how would you change your investments?  If the economy were suffering from severe inflation, how would you change your investments?  If the economy were growing rapidly and doing well, how would you change your investments?



    Investments worksheet, and Reflection

    Due by Monday, May 25 3pm

    Lesson Plan – May 11-15


    Personal Financial Literacy

    Overview: This week, we will learn the details of transportation and insurance.

    Growing up in a suburb may have influenced you into thinking cars are necessary, or that you want to do without.  But why would you make your choice?

    As for insurance, this is a whole new way of thinking.  You are not a person to an insurance company.  You are a set of risk factors.  Will you increase or decrease the likelihood of them having to pay out.  That’s their incentive.

    Materials: "Buying a Car" worksheet and "Alternative Transportation" worksheet, "Insurance" lecture, "Healthcare Insurance" worksheet




    60-75 minutes


    Watch the video intro.  (PPT or YouTube)

    When you think about how you are going to get around, there are quite a few things to think about:

    ·         How are you going to commute (get from home to work each day)?

    ·         How are you going to go places in the evening?

    ·         If you want to travel further on the weekends, how will you do it?

    ·         What externalities exist with your choice?  

    • What opportunity costs come with your choice?

    ·         What non-financial aspects affect your decision?


    In order to make a good decision, you must have complete information. So, I want you to find a car to buy and get some details about public transportation.  Fill in both worksheets (in the same file):

    Buying a Car and Alternative Transportation


    For the car worksheet, some of the data may be out of date.  That’s ok.  We just need an estimated figure.

    Write your Transportation Reflection.  Write a reflection explaining why you would pick that particular car and/or public transportation for your future life.


    Buying a Car worksheet, Alternative Transportation worksheet, and Reflection

    Due by Monday, May 18 3pm

    60 minutes


    I usually give a lecture for Insurance, so here it is (PPT or YouTube).  Use it and your own research to fill in the worksheet.  (If you are not going to live in California, go to the other state’s or country’s health insurance market website, if they have one.)  Notice that the worksheet is only for healthcare.  There are lots of other forms of insurance.

    In case I forget to mention it elsewhere, you should know that the US primarily has an employer-organized healthcare system.  That means your health insurance will be included with your salary when you get a job.  If your employer is a reasonably large company, and if you are not-self employed or unemployed.

    Write the reflection.  Make sure that you are writing about all insurance.  Not just healthcare or car insurance.

    Insurance Reflection Write a reflection for your budget explaining which types of insurance you would buy and how much of each you would buy.  This reflection is for all types of insurance even though the worksheet was only for health insurance.


    Insurance worksheet, and Reflection

    Due by Monday, May 18 3pm


    Lesson Plan – May 4-8


    Personal Financial Literacy


    Overview: This week, we will find a place to live (or two really) and learn something about groceries – two necessities of life.

    To live somewhere, I want you to find a place to buy and a place to rent so you can identify some of the differences between them.  That should help you make your own choices in the future.  You will also do a small household inventory to get some idea how much things in the house cost to replace.  (Not the stuff you buy weekly or monthly, but the stuff you have to buy or repair every few years or so.)

    For groceries, really we are looking at how much it costs to eat.  For you and the others in your household.  You will visit a grocery store virtually and shop for 10 items. 

    Materials: “Five Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home” article, “Renting a Home” worksheet, “Buying a Home” worksheet, “Household Inventory” worksheet, “Groceries” worksheet




    60-75 minutes



    Watch the video intro


    It’s time to find a place to live.  You will find a place to buy and a place to rent.  Either one can be a house, a condo or an apartment (or other option - make it real for you), but it’s important for you to look into both renting and buying.  Use the zip code you found last time and find those two places that work for you.  Zillow.com is a good place to research this.


    Things to keep in mind as you look:

    ·         Can you afford it?  (It’s ok if you are wrong, but try to think it over.)  A quick rule of thumb is 1/3 of your after-tax income.

    ·         You may not be able to live in the zip code of your job, so you may need to commute.

    ·         What sort of lifestyle do you want/expect at 28?

    ·         How much money was in your salary.com bell curve?

    ·         Will you need roommates or a second income?

    ·         Do you have children or a spouse? (We don’t count income from spouses.)


    When you find something you think will work, fill in the appropriate worksheet.




    Sometimes the info on the wroksheets is not easily available.  I’d like you to give them a call so you get the experience, but it’s ok if some lines are blank.


    When you finish both buying and renting worksheets, take about 10 minutes and fill in the “Household Inventory” worksheet.  It’s not meant to be comprehensive, but it should give you some ideas about the “hidden” costs of a household.  I’ve done a few for you.


    Then, read the “Five Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home” article and think about non-financial reasons you would choose one place over another.


    Write your Housing Reflection.  Why did you choose what you did?  Explain the value of your living choices (no dollar amounts).


    Buying worksheet, Renting worksheet, Household Inventory worksheet, and Reflection

    Due by Monday, May 11 3pm

    60 minutes



    Watch the video intro


    Download the “Groceries” worksheet.  Fill it in.


    Normally, I ask students to go to three different grocery stores so they can see the difference in options and prices.  We can’t really do that right now.  So, please look online.  It’s ok if you only do one store.


    Write the reflection. 


    Reflection:  Without using dollar amounts, how much does your food cost?  (i.e., what opportunity costs or externalities, etc… exist because of your food choices?)  What substitutes would you include if you made more money?  Less money? 


    Groceries worksheet, and Reflection

    Due by Monday, May 11 3pm


    Lesson Plan – April 27 – May 1


    Personal Financial Literacy

    Overview: Well, here’s the unit you all wanted.  Time to learn how to set up and maintain a household.  Usually, we do this almost entirely in class.  There is a lot of research to do and I usually have students find three of each piece to help them learn how much luck plays a role in outcomes.  But we’re simplifying.  You will do one budget instead of three.

    The format will be something two lessons a week (I’ll send both out on Mondays).  Each lesson will follow a format like (video intro, article (or something), handout to help you focus your research, and reflection).  Normally, I’m right there to answer questions as they come up.  But not this time.  So remember, you can 1) email me any time (I will respond during working hours), 2) ask your parents/guardians (they know this stuff), 3) come to our regular Zoom meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (any meeting is fine), and 4) set up an appointment with me during office hours and we can Zoom one-on-one.

    Materials: “What is Your Relationship to Money” questionnaire, “Money Personality Quiz,” “Americans and Their Money” article and "Career Profile" instructions




    10 Minutes



    Watch this, then look at the “Personal Financial Literacy Portfolio Overview” (especially the General Reflection Instructions) and the checklist.



    45-60 minutes

    Money Personality


    Watch the video intro.


    Then, fill in the questionnaire: “What is Your Relationship to Money?” 


    Next, take the “Money Personality Quiz.”  It will give you a name of one of the personality types.


    Go to the article, “Americans and Their Money.”  (I know the format isn't perfect but it's the only copy I have and I couldn't find an online copy - please email it to me if you do.)  Read the first two pages, then find your personality type and read that one.  If it doesn’t seem to fit, take the quiz again and read the new personality type.  (Or since, it’s your education, just read them all and figure out which applies best.)


    Write the reflection.  Always look at the specific instructions that may be on the worksheets, or on the overview.  I’ll copy and paste them here for your ease of use this time.


    Money Personality Profile and Reflection  Write a reflection that both highlights key characteristics of your money personality and states how well this profile fits you.  Provide examples from your life that both agree and disagree with the profile.  How will knowing yourself help you make wise decisions?


    General Reflections Instructions

    Besides all of the specific instructions for specific reflections, be sure to explain 1) Why you made the choices you did, and 2) What you learned from this part of the portfolio.


    Do not describe your decisions!  EXPLAIN them!


    Also, always write with economic vocabulary.  Show that you understand and can use the concepts of economics.  Try to focus each reflection on one or two terms different from the other reflections.  The purpose is to show your depth of knowledge across the entire portfolio. 





    Money Personality questionnaire and reflection

    Due by Monday, May 4 3pm

    60-90 minutes

    Future Plan


    Watch this.


    What career do you want to have?  Where will you be in 10 years?  You’re designing a life for that 10 year from now time.  Where will you be living?  How much money will you be making?  Let’s plan.

    Basic Rules: 

    1. 10 years from now

    2. Reasonable luck

    3. You must be self-reliant

    4. Make it useful to you

    Answer the questions on the “Career Profile.”  Be sure to include your answers and the print out at the end (or screenshot somehow if you don’t have access to a printer).


    Write the reflection. 


    Future Plans Reflection  (salary bell curve) Describe the possibility for your future and how luck and skill will affect your achieving it. This should be what you would like to happen but still need reasonable luck to accomplish (winning the lottery is out).  Write a reflection on this possibility and what will have to happen within your control and outside your control for it to come to pass.


    Future Plan answers, print out and reflection

    Due by Monday, May 4 3pm




    Lesson Plan – April 20-24


    Overview: It’s time to have our final discussions on the ethics of our society’s choices.  You should already have finished your notes from “Hoop Dreams or “Broken Places” and “The America We Need.”  If not, you have until 3pm today to finish and turn them in to me (email).  We will check in several times this week on the nine, ongoing discussions and add our comments as appropriate.

    After you participate in the discussions, please spend some time finishing your articles and paragraphs.  If you have been keeping up with the schedule I’ve provided over the last five and a half weeks, you shouldn’t have much to do.  They are due Monday, April 27 at 3pm.

    Materials: Access to the discussion Google Docs




    60-90 minutes

    Online Discussions


    Please log in to the Google Docs that I will share today.  Normally, with a new technology I would have asked the first class to double check it worked while we were together, so now I ask you to see if it works and email me if there is any sort of problem.


    I only require people to contribute to each discussion twice.  But I hope people get drawn in and come back over and over.  This is our replacement for meaningful dialogue in class.  It’s always much better when you are looking someone in the eye as you interact with each other, but we will have to make do.


    There are nine documents (one for each question).  The rules for discussion are straightforward, but I will reiterate them here:



    1) Add your name (first name and last initial) as the first words

    2) Add a comment or question or evidence that relates to something recent in the document (within the last 10 comments).  If the last 10 comments seem to have run their course, it is ok to start a new line of thinking.

    3) I fully expect people to add a comment to each document in one go, and then come back later to add more.  You do not (and should not) try to add all of your additions at once.  Make it a written conversation over several days.

    4) Keep everything appropriate for school (naturally)


    Contributions are due by the end of this week (Friday at 3pm) so that people don’t have to come back during their weekend off.

    Two contributions per discussion minimum (18 total)


    Due Friday, April 24 by 3pm.

    60-90 minutes

    Finish Paragraphs


    If you have been keeping up, you should be almost done.  Remember, I will grade these for quality and I will only be spot checking 3 paragraphs.  You get to choose one of the three I read so please put a big star or highlight or something next to the one you want me to read. 


    All Paragraphs submitted

    Monday, April 27 at 3pm.


    Lesson Plan – April 13-17

    Overview: This week, our plan is to prepare for an online discussion (probably done in Google Docs over the course of next week).  The basic idea is to try and pull everything about the unit together to trace the effects of our society’s choices.  I want you to be able to look at ripple effects of decisions and then look at how that interacts with the ripple effects of other decisions.  How does everything together play out?  Are we a society that makes good, systemic decisions for everyone? 


    Materials: “Hoop Dreams,” or “Broken Places” and “The America We Need,” and “Owned” (which we already watched in class).


    Places to find materials:

    • Hoop Dreams:
    • Rent or buy (my preferred method for those with the means)
      • Amazon (they’re having a special at the moment for ¢99);
      • $2.99 on Google Play;
      • Some price I can’t see on Youtube;
      • free with a Hulu and HBO free trial (don’t forget to cancel if that is your choice).
    • I have also bought a DVD copy for those who do not have easy internet access (though I hope you can read this email) so email me (or text someone at the school who will get the info to me) if you want to arrange getting it to you (I’ll drive if need be).
    • “Broken Places” https://www.pbs.org/wnet/chasing-the-dream/films/broken-places/
    • “The America We Need” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/opinion/coronavirus-inequality-america.html
    • “Owned” is on Netflix if you need to watch it again.






    120+ minutes

    Watch the movies and read the article while taking notes


    Ok, so the basic idea is to get ready for a discussion about our society’s decisions.  Are we a society that makes good, systemic decisions for everyone?  In what ways are we ethical or unethical?


    After having read your essays, I’m not surprised.  You came to very different conclusions based mostly on what pieces you emphasized.  Some of you focused on the incentives for the company and opportunity costs for the majority of students and so said there was no problem assigning the movie.  Others said the inequity of access for even a single student outweighed the rest and so said it would be unethical.  I’m not passing judgment (mostly I was looking for how well you used economics knowledge and communication skills), but it did reinforce in my mind the need for a broader discussion amongst you so you can hear and understand each other more.  To that end, we are still doing the seminar/discussion, but I will have to figure out the technicalities.


    That means, we need materials to work with.  Fortunately, some materials came to light since the time I asked you to write about the ethics of consuming “Hoop Dreams.”  For those of you who have the means, I would like you to watch “Hoop Dreams” and take notes on the questions as before.  For those of you who do not, Stevi gave me a lead on a documentary that does much of what we want, and last week, the NY Times started an editorial series on inequality (how perfect is that?).  So, while not perfect (especially since kids without good internet access are still left out), it will have to do.  (By the way, admin confirmed that some students still do not have chromebooks or hotspots and so are missing out on all classes).




    1)      watch “Hoop Dreams” if you can (hopefully with your family as it is a very good thing to talk about)




    2)      watch “Broken Places” and read “The America We Need”


    Or do both as it is your education and they are all worthwhile (otherwise I wouldn’t have brought them to you).


    Take notes on the questions below.  You should already have notes from “Owned”.  Next week, you will turn in a set of notes including the three most interesting or relevant facts for each question and you reason for including them.



    Notes (look below for instructions).


    3 pieces of evidence (facts, quotes, graphs, etc…) for each question, typed and sent to me by 3pm on Monday, April 20.


    This evidence can be from any of the sources.


    Owned/Hoop Dreams/Broken Places Seminar


    For __________________, you must have reasonable notes for the following prompts.  The notes must include three (3) pieces of evidence and your comments on them for each question, typed, and ready to turn in.


    1. What housing policy or practice most disadvantaged African-Americans in the 20th Century? What effects are still with us from that? (from “Owned” and “The America We Need”)
    2. Before starting high school, what advantages and disadvantages did Arthur and William (or for “Broken Places”: Danny and Raymond, Bobby, or Danielle) have compared with each other, other kids from their neighborhood, and with you?
    3. How does Spike Lee’s vision of America compare with Dick Vitale’s? Do William or Arthur fit either vision?  Which vision is more accurate?  Do you think you have been trained (acculturated) to believe one vision and not the other?  Why?  (or for “Broken Places” and “The America We Need”:  compare Geoffrey Canada’s view vs. the Libertarian view expressed in “The America We Need”)
    4. To what extent do schools aid or hinder a young person’s chance of success? (works for “Hoop Dreams” and “Broken Places”)
    5. In both movies, we saw many African Americans in advanced positions in society, yet William says that basketball was his only ticket out of the ghetto. Why does he believe this?  What do you think the reality is for African Americans or others in poverty? (Focus on this last question for “Broken Places”)
    6. Are your preconceived ideas about inner-city life reinforced or challenged by these movies? To what extent did the race of both films’ filmmakers (European American) and the bulk of the intended audience (European American) affect how the story was told?   (Works for all three documentaries)
    7. Arthur’s mother comments that, “sometimes the system gets you so mad you want to hurt somebody.” Focus on a system that unethically disadvantages certain people.  In what ways does it do that?  (Take a look at foster care or family court for “Broken Places”)
    8. To what extent are individuals responsible for their outcomes and to what extent is the system responsible? (works for everything)
    9. Does our society allocate scarce resources wisely? To what extent can a country that espouses equality and freedom for all also advocate capitalism?  Are we a market economy or a market society? (works for everything)



    Lesson Plan – March 31-April 3

    Overview: It’s time for a real-world assessment.  The plan was always to watch the Movie “Hoop Dreams” at the end of the unit.  In class, we accomplish this by using a DVD the school has bought (legally, we have to request use of it for education purposes, which we did a long time ago).  But now, we can’t do that.  So, what do we do to achieve our purpose: a thorough look at many ethical systems in society and how they all play out together.  That issue is now your assessment instead of the essay test I would have given you.


    You can do the activities in either order.


    Materials: None




    90 minutes


    The Ethics of watching “Hoop Dreams”

    What I would like from you, by Saturday at 9am, is an “in-class” essay answering this question: In what way should we consume “Hoop Dreams”?   

    I’ve done a good amount of research into finding a version of the movie that we can all watch without any ethical considerations.  I’ve looked for replacements either as movies or articles but haven’t found anything wonderful. 

    I did discover that we can all watch the movie for free if we sign up for a free trial through Hulu with the HBO add-on.  It’s seven days for free, as a trial subscription.  Obviously, the company is making their own choice about offering this for free, but it is meant for people who are considering using the service permanently.  If our intent is to sign up only for a day to watch one movie and then cancel, are we acting unethically?  Am I, as your teacher, suggesting something wrong?  Or, are we in part all trying the service and does that validate the choice?  What issues arise from using this company’s service in class and having you all sign up?  Is this compelled advertising to a group of young people?  Additionally, what about the few students we have who don’t have adequate access to the internet to watch a movie?  Are we leaving them out?  Would asking everyone to read an article be more equitable?  (FYI, I haven’t yet found a single, really good article that let’s us look at the entire nature of our society from an ethical perspective.  This is why I put together the packet of articles in the first place.)

    If you think I’m asking a lot of questions, that’s what ethicists do.  It’s also what I do regularly as I create lessons and teach.  If you want to know what goes through my head almost every day, watch this clip to amuse yourself.


    I’ve been considering this issue of “Hoop Dreams” for a week.  Then I had an epiphany: I decided to put your learning to work.  This is a real-world dilemma that uses ethics (especially in terms of a system where one teacher makes a choice for 95 students).

    Some questions to think about (brainstorm) as you prepare for this essay:

    ·        What economic system should we use to determine this question: market based where individual students and their families decide, or command where I make the choice?

    ·        Are we using our capital and human resources on this question enough to validate watching through a free trial?  Should I, as the teacher, increase my human resource capacity to make the question moot?

    ·        What are the opportunity costs at work here?  To the students, their parents, or the company involved? 

    ·        What incentives do I, you students, or the company have in this situation?  Are they aligned or perverse?

    ·        How does technology support or undermine learning (our goal) in this case?  If we spend an entire unit on ethical systems and the economic choices we make, can we honestly choose to use a free trial for a lesson with no intent of signing up, or is that unethical?  Does it undermine the point of the entire unit?

    ·        What externalities do we have in this question?  Will some students have negative externalities from one choice or another?  The company? 

    ·        Did the company likely already consider the free rider problem?  Does that make our choice acceptable?  What about tragedy of the commons?  If we all use it, and it gets used up (the company ends the trial), does that create unreasonable externalities for others?

    ·        Does our goal (learning for kids) influence the decision more than if we were trying to make a profit?  How much does intent matter?

    ·        In what ways should we consider equity for students?  Undoubtedly, among the 95 of you, there will be some who cannot watch the movie this way.  Should we allow for some students’ parents to give them opportunities other students in our public school do not have?  Or should we require everyone to be equal in their consumption?  What about students for whom reading is difficult (and we have done a lot of that) and watching a movie is much more impactful? 

    Basically, folks, help me decide the right thing to do here.

    Obviously, you will not be able to consider everything in 90 minutes.  And I don’t expect you to spend more time than that.  This is an “in-class” essay.  But like we have done in the past, you can use any resources you want to answer it. 

    Do focus on a single concept, question or idea that makes your conclusion correct.  Make sure your thesis passes all the tests.  And then prove your thesis with evidence and analysis.  Since I will grade this as if you wrote it in 90 minutes (with every resource available), it behooves you ethically to write it in 90 minutes only.

    I will be evaluating this essay for a real grade.  Not simply completion as I have mostly done so far in this remote learning. 


    Due Saturday, April 4 at 9am



    90 minutes

    Work Period


    Ok folks, we are nearing the end of the unit.  The plan is to finish the week after break (one way or another).  So, I want to give you some “class time” to work on your articles and paragraphs.  They will be due on Monday, April 20.  All 15 paragraphs in one file.  So, catch up if you need to, or finish if you are on track.


    Feel free to send me a sample paragraph and I will give you some feedback if you like.




    Finish your articles and paragraphs for Monday, April 20.




    Lesson Plan – March 26-30

    Overview: I’ve decided to put two related lessons together to lighten the email load on you.  These are both due (as one file, please) on Tuesday, March 31 at 9am.


    Materials: Videos, Lecture




    3 minutes





    Play this as you read the instructions for the rest:




    60 minutes



    Watch the video and fill in this worksheet.  I know it’s simple, but it gives you a focus.  If you don’t have a printer, just write the gist of each piece in your notebook.  Send me a photo of the completed work (done by you watching the video!).


    And if for some reason you think this is a made up concept, here’s the kid who was not convicted of killing people because he used it as a defense.


    Photo of worksheet or notebook

    Due Tuesday, March 31



    20 minutes



    First respond to this: what is your understanding of the distribution of taxes in the US?  (i.e. who pays the most?)


    Then, look at the lecture I’m including here.  I usually do this math on the board, but that isn’t so easy now so I made a lecture with videos (I’m trying something new).  If you can’t get the videos to play, watch the youtube video of the whole thing (make sure you are logged in to google or youtube using your tamdistrict.org account).




    Watch the video and look at the university lecture linked within it.  (Just navigate to the links if you’re watching my lecture as video.)


    Now, give me a thoughtful paragraph about who pays what in society.




    Response before the watching lecture.


    Paragraph Response after: How should we look at tax burdens?  Should we consider dollar amount only or opportunity costs and other non-financial costs? 


    Due Tuesday, March 31



    Write Paragraphs: none

    Read Articles: none


    Use this weekend to catch up on paragraphs if need be.  Otherwise, not HW for Economics.



    Lesson Plan – March 24

    Overview: Another view of ethical societies is that some areas should not be subject to market forces.  That other goals or virtues matter more in those places.  Most of you thought schools should remain public because economic freedom would likely lead to worse outcomes for many people who are not otherwise responsible for their choices (children).   What other areas should use command economic systems to decide the basic economic questions?  Today’s activities point to this question.


    Materials: Video




    15 minutes



    Original Position


    There is a famous thought experiment by a person named John Rawls.  It’s called the “Original Position” and the basic idea is this: how would you construct a society’s rules to be most fair and just, if you had no idea how someone’s (including yours) birth would leave them?  Would it be right to allow their parents’ current positions (socio-economic status) affect their chances at success in the world?  How would you adjust things?

    Watch this video to see what some of those SES positions may be:




    Think about this for a few minutes and write down your immediate ideas.  Then, write a thesis that tells me why considering original position matters or not.




    Due Wednesday (2nd and 3rd) at 9am, and Thursday (5th) at 9am.


    Judging from the paragraphs I’ve seen in the last few days, ya’ll need some practice with this.  Use the tests (copied at bottom).

    40+ minutes


    Watch Sandel’s video below.  And remember folks, don’t skip things.  This is your education.  Make it valuable.




    Consider these questions as you watch: How “free” should the free market be? Why do markets fail?

    Now, please brainstorm a list of which industries (law enforcement, school, etc…) should have some sort of limitation on economic freedom.  And what limitation you think is appropriate.  Give a reason for each.


    List of industries with their limitations.

    Due Wednesday (2nd and 3rd) at 9am, and Thursday (5th) at 9am.



    Write Paragraphs: none

    Read Articles 18



    Thesis Checklist

    • states a cause and effect relationship (answers the question: WHY?)
    • clear and obvious (easy to find and understand)
    • not passive (no form of the verb “to be”)
    • strong (takes a side; not wishy-washy)
    • argumentative (a reasonable person could disagree with it)
    • provable (narrow enough to realistically be proven in the length provided)
    • precise (impossible to misinterpret)



    Lesson Plan – March 23

    Overview: Today’s lesson is to give a different perspective on companies and corporations.  John Stossel is a journalist with a distinct libertarian view.  Libertarianism, remember, focuses heavily on negative liberty (being free from government restraint) which in economics usually takes the form of absolute market systems.  Let individuals (as people or companies) make their own choices and you will end up with the most efficient and, overall, just system.  I’ll let Stossel make the case for you.


    Materials: Video




    60 minutes


    (I know this is more than a Monday 40-minute lesson so I will take it as part of the block period, too)

    Video Clip


    Watch the video from Stossel and take notes.  He is specifically trying to make an argument for economic freedom.  I want you to consider it, and respond to the prompt below.




    When you finish, answer this prompt:


    ·       To what extent do you agree with Stossel?  Is economic freedom the most important element in a successful economy?  Why or why not?


    Also, just for some fun, this video has what I think of as the single, most entertaining, interview question I’ve ever heard.  See if you can find it.



    Due Thursday at 9am


    Write Paragraphs 7-8

    Read Articles 16-17





    Lesson Plan – March 19

    Overview: Today, we will shift a little.  Companies and governments (local, state and federal) often look to locate facilities that no one wants around them on cheap land.  This is why Mill Valley has a sewer plant and middle school (sorry, young’uns) on reclaimed marsh land somewhat away from housing. It makes sense that they can minimize costs of land and litigation (think NIMBYism).  But cheap land is often where poor people live, too, because it is what they can afford.  This means that poor people often live near pollution through no fault of their own, but simply because of market choices.  This is unequitable, but it is economic freedom (negative liberty, at least).  Is it a problem?


    Materials: Video




    10 minutes

    Video Clip


    Please watch this clip about a trash incinerator in Chester, PA.




    Think about these questions as you watch: 

    ·       What are the opportunity costs and benefits of locating polluting facilities on cheap land?

    ·       How does the location of polluting facilities exacerbate (make worse) already existing inequities in society?

    ·       To what extent is this reasonable?



    60 minutes

    Preparation and Discussion


    Take the questions from the video and your thoughts, then follow up by creating more questions.  Write those questions out as a list of things you think should be considered or discussed. 


    Make a T chart of the pros and cons of locating “unwanted” facilities in poor areas.  Write more questions on your list from what you put on your T chart.


    Please speak for a while with an adult (or more) about this issue.  Ask your questions.  Answer them together.  Come up with more questions on the spot.


    Basically, investigate this issue with an adult.  (I will accept conversations with other students if no adult is available.)

    1.     List of questions you prepared and discussed with an adult.

    2.     T Chart of pros and cons for locating “unwanted” facilities on cheap land.

    3.     A thesis (one sentence only) answering: How much does our market economic system create inequities rather than respond to them?




    Write Paragraph 6

    Read Articles 13-15




    Lesson Plan – March 16-18

    Overview: Continuing your discussions of companies, I have a slightly different concept for you: What responsibility, if any, do companies have to society?  Since this is only a 40-minute class day, and I am trying to keep to regular class times, we will have to make this a two-day lesson.  I want you to watch an hour-long PBS Frontline documentary and then find similar, useful sources.

    Materials: Video, Notes




    60 minutes


    This video is a few years old and focuses on Walmart.  Basically, it’s trying to look at all of the costs and benefits of large companies in smaller communities.  Walmart is the single largest employer (besides the federal government) in America.  It reaches almost every community, but a few years ago it got some bad press because it paid its workers (most of them, that is) so little, that they had to get food stamps and Medicaid to get by.  All while making massive profits.


    This worked for me without any info given to them.  It should work for you as well.

    Keep your notes focused on this question:  Is Walmart’s behavior ethical?  Why or why not?  Must a company consider anything besides the bottom line?


    Due Thursday morning.

    60 minutes

    Other Sources

    Please find three (3) other sources that illuminate the question (in italics).  They can be articles, videos, or other sources. 

    List of 3 sources with short annotations for each addressing the following:

    1.     Why is it reliable?

    2.     What point does it make?

    3.     What’s the best piece of evidence within it?

    Due Thursday morning.


    Write Paragraph 5

    Read Articles 10-12




    Lesson Plan – March 13

    Economics (5th)

    Overview: Today, I want you to look into corporations and what rights a responsibilities they should have.  Specifically, how should we treat them in relation to people?

    Materials: videos linked in text, and lecture attached to email.




    30-45 minutes

    An Ethical System for Pharmaceuticals


    Question(s) for consideration: WHO: Capitalism works by encouraging self-improvement and reward for effort.  But it always leaves people behind in the competition.  In this case, people who can’t afford to buy expensive drugs.  Are pharmaceuticals an industry that shouldn’t be governed by market systems?  Should we use a mix of some sort?  If so, what mix? 


    Watch the short video:


    Patents (inventions for 7-ish years) and copyrights (books and such for life +70 years) are types of intellectual property law designed to encourage innovation.  For pharmaceutical drugs, some people will not be able to afford the life-saving drug during the 7 years of monopoly prices, but if we don’t allow a profit to the companies making them, they won’t design future drugs.  How can you balance the incentives for companies to design future drugs while also making current drugs available to people who need them now?


    While doing this, watch this video:



    Can you harness greed for good? 


    Find one or more family members (or friends via Facetime, Skype, phone, etc..).  Write back to me with their name(s), the time you spoke about these questions, and what conclusions you came to.

    30-45 minutes

    Corporations’ Rights


    CORPORATE RIGHTS: As Mitt Romney said, “corporations are people, my friend.”  He meant that they are made up of people who combine their money (capital resources) for common interests.  Is that so bad?  But the trade-off is that the people within it have limited responsibility.  Should we treat corporations the same way we do people?  In every respect?  What differences should there be (if any)?


    Watch this video:


    Notice what he says about the growth of corporate power. 


    Read the attached lecture.  (Lectures won’t be as devastatingly entertaining as when I give them, but I will add details to help explain them within the lecture itself.)


    Corporations started as a way for the state to get more power than the church, but their power has grown.  Are corporations now their own power center?  Do they rival states?  Will we eventually become consumers in a corporation rather than citizens in a state?  Call it a Corpocracy (credit Cloud Atlas for that term).

    Same as above.


    1.      Write paragraphs 3 and 4

    2.      Read articles 7-8

    These would normally be due on Monday, so do them as normal.










    Basics Unit

    Vocab List


    Basics of Economics Lecture

    Vocab Lecture


    Twinned Cities Article

    Mnuchin-Thunberg Article


    Basics Seminar

    Parent HW: Look at the questions after the Master Schedule section; they're both the same unit at heart.


    Master Schedule Assignment

    Introductory Questions


    Presentation Structural Outline


    Board Members

    Skills for a Good Education (according to different sources)

    Vocab Questions

    Voicemail Transcripts

    Student Requests


    Parent HW: When is capitalism the right choice for a society or an industry?  When can it be wrong?  What values underlay capitalism or socialism or other economic systems?


    Supply and Demand

    Vocab List


    Supply and Demand Worksheets

    Parent HW:  Why do professional sports players, movie stars and CEOs get paid so much?  Why is that right and good?  Why is it wrong?


    Ethical Economics

    Articles (Word file)

    Articles (PDF file)

    Vaccinations and the Public Good Article

    Financial Crisis of 2008

    The History of Corporations

    Economic Theorists lecture

    Lucky 7 Power Game

    Gini Coefficient and Social Mobility

    Affluenza Worksheet

    Affluenza Interview

    Affluenza Article

    Inequality Graphs

    Fiscal Policy

    Monetary Policy

    Hoop Dreams Seminar

    Hoop Dreams Article

    Parent HW: Please take a look at packet of articles at the top and find what you care to teach your kid most about.  This is a good chance to teach them how their decisions are ethical (or not) and how to figure that difference out.


    Personal Financial Literacy Portfolio

    Overall Assignment Page


    All Vocab Terms

    Americans and Their Money

    Money Relationship

    Your Career Profile/Future Plans

    College Article 1

    College Article 2

    Paying for College Lecture

    Paying for College Worksheet

    House Worksheet

    Apartment Worksheet

    House Article

    Household Inventory



    Credit Card Worksheet

    Credit Protection Info

    Credit Rating Handout

    Investing Lecture

    Stock Buying

    Investing Exercises

    Banking Worksheet

    Health Insurance Worksheet

    Insurance Lecture

    Budget Worksheet

    Parent HW: What does you child need to know to survive on their own "out there?"

Last Modified on June 2, 2021