Introduces key concepts of economics, including market economy, structure and function of the national economy, the interrelationships of the United States economy in the international marketplace, labor, and personal finances.
The American Economy unit contains 20 learning experiences.
Learning Experiences (Lessons) in The American Economy Each learning experience takes about 45 minutes to teach in the device-enabled classroom.
What Is a Market Economy?
Students identify the different economic systems and focus on characteristics of a market economy. Then they review colonial mercantilism and discover how the desire for a free market economy led to the development of a democratic nation. Finally, they write a letter as a colonist to the British king explaining how they feel about paying taxes to the crown and what changes they would make in the system.
Supply and Demand in a Market Economy
Students learn how supply and demand affect price in a market economy. Then they plan a class field trip and apply the concept of opportunity cost. Finally they plan a lemonade stand to look at factors that impact how a market functions, including supply and demand and opportunity cost.
Students explain how and why people make economic choices and explain the tradeoff in a given scenario. Then they examine a ballot measure and explain what is being produced, how, and for whom. Finally, they take a position on the ballot measure and explain the opportunity cost.
Students watch a video and classify natural, human, and capital resources used to produce crayons. Then they identify some characteristics of modern mass production. Finally they evaluate the impact of the assembly line based on the Ford Motor Company’s 1913 innovation.
Students explain how the distribution chain moves products and services to consumers. Then they watch a video demonstration of the parts of the distribution chain. Next they explain how marketing and merchandising are used to attract buyers. Finally they create an advertisement for a good or service.
Capitalism and Free Enterprise
Students describe the characteristics of capitalism and free enterprise. Then they examine the U.S. gross domestic product. Next they compare the U.S. GDP per capita to that of other countries. Finally they draw a conclusion if GDP per capita is an effective measure of standard of living.
Students analyze their own spending habits. Then they analyze the Consumer Bill of Rights and apply the rights to food labeling. Next they learn about some of the government agencies that provide consumer protection and they examine an example of an actual product recall. Finally, they write a short case study of practicing their consumer rights.
Budgeting Your Money
Students learn what budgets are in general and budget their weekly time. Next they learn how to build a personal budget for a household. Then they analyze the 2015 federal budget’s revenue and spending and compare it to a personal budget. Finally, students apply what they learned to build a budget for the Chess Club using given data.
Banks and Banking
Students learn about the role commercial banks play in the banking system. First they focus on the mechanics of savings and deposits. Next students learn about the money supply and loans, and they describe the process of getting a bank loan. Finally, students evaluate micro-lending as an alternative to traditional banking.
Saving and Investing
Students learn about different ways of saving money, and they compare and contrast savings accounts and CDs. Next they learn about the stock market and analyze the performance of Zoom Communications stocks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally they simulate investing in the stock market.
Buying on Credit
Students learn the cost of buying on credit. Then they weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using credit. Finally they weigh the benefits versus the risk of taking a student loan to pay college tuition.
Students learn about the perseverance and habits of successful entrepreneurs. Then they do quick research about an entrepreneur and present their findings to their small groups. Finally, each small group creates an elevator pitch for a product or service that they choose.
How Businesses Are Organized
Students identify the differences between sole proprietorships and partnerships. Then, students describe the pros and cons of corporations. Finally, students analyze the four types of business responsibility—economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic—and evaluate the ethical or philanthropic activity of a local business.
Labor and Management
Students study several photographs showing work conditions in the early twentieth century. Then they describe the role of the Fair Labor Standards Act and unions. Next they analyze arguments for and against an increase in the federal minimum wage. Finally they review a 100 Best Places to Work survey and evaluate factors that contribute to good relations between management and employees.
Government's Role in the U.S. Economy
Students examine how the federal government manages the economy through its monetary and fiscal policies, including the role of the Federal Reserve Board. Then they analyze different government regulations that affect the economy, and they evaluate the benefits and costs of environmental regulations. Finally they research a case where the government applied the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Measuring the Economy
Students identify how economists use leading, lagging, and coincident indicators to make predictions about the health of the economy. Then they evaluate a specific economic indicator and how it changed over a given reporting period. Finally, students write a letter to a clothing company CEO to make predictions about the health of the economy based on the consumer confidence index.
The Government and Income Inequality
Students learn about income inequality in the United States by looking at the distribution of wealth and identifying some of the causes and effects of income inequality. Then, students look at some of the ways in which the government addresses income inequality. Finally, students write a position paper regarding entitlement programs.
The Federal Budget: Taxes and Spending
Students learn about the federal budgeting process and define the types of revenue and spending. Then they evaluate the effects of a government shutdown on the economy. Next, they contrast the types of revenue at the three levels of government and conclude how taxes might contribute to the economy.
Living in a Global Economy
Students compare exchange rates for different currencies against the dollar. Next they examine the role of imports and exports in a nation’s economy and how the cost is affected by the value of foreign currency. Then they analyze some factors that may cause the value of a currency to fluctuate. Finally they contrast a single-resource economy (Saudi Arabia) and a diversified economy (the United States).