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While we were exploring our community, we noticed the differences in the businesses in the community. Because of these differences, we decided to focus our lessons on economics and inviting the students to learn more about not only scarcity, but goods and services through our unique lesson plans. Through the discussion of these topics we also introduced the idea of individual choices based off of needs, income, and inequality among individuals within their community. As we explored the community, we observed the visual differences in the access to different businesses, which inspired us with our first invitation. We then chose to examine different job opportunities available in our community and their salaries, which relates to our first invitation because income often is a determining factor in shopping decisions. This invites students to not only look at the different jobs in their community but also allows them the opportunity to discover the requirements necessary for acquiring those jobs.
In order to prepare students for dialogue and critical thinking, we felt it necessary to introduce students to the basics of economics so that they may be able to make connections to their community. We will look at a variety of terms involved in discussing economics and how it relates to the lives of a second grader. We will discuss topics such as scarcity, goods and services, importance of all jobs, and sacrifice. We really wanted to stress this first day the importance of all jobs in the community so that no child feels marginalized due to their parents occupation and socioeconomic status (SES). We also wanted to focus on scarcity and sacrifice since it is so prevalent in not only the Barnett Shoals community, but the Athens-Clarke County as a whole.
We then wanted to move students from the larger, holistic view to a more localized, personal level. In order to accomplish this, we initially focused on price differences within a variety of stores in their community. Students are invited to compare and contrast the pricings, not just store-to-store, but also between brands. We plan on using this activity to jump start our critical thinking and dialogue throughout the week by asking questions and having the students discuss their answers first as a group and later as a class. This allows the students to not only broaden their personal perspectives, but see the perspectives of others.
To further topics from the previous activity, we will start off by asking students questions related to their likes, their wants, and how they would acquire those items. We will connect our students’ responses to the concept that not everyone has access to all their needs and wants, such as food, clothes, toys, etc. We then decided to follow with a discussion on how to help others within our communities who may be in need of certain necessities. In order to provide them with a way to critical think about this issue we will give them scenarios related to this topic and allow them to make their own decisions on how to help themselves and their fellow community members acquire their needs and possibly wants.
We will continue to investigate our community by introducing the job opportunities available within the Barnett Shoals area. We will have students not only explore the various jobs available, but the salaries and requirements that accompany each help wanted ad. This will allow students to think critically about the educational components necessary to acquire a specific job and to have them compare and contrast the salaries related to those jobs. We hope to have students make connections to the relationship that exists between a person’s educational level and their income. We will also be able to use this as a starting point to have the children relate the amount of money a person makes to the goods and services they can purchase.
We plan on connecting all of the components which we have discussed and learned during the week through an interactive activity. This activity incorporates job and salary differences discussed on day four, the purchasing of needed goods at various stores discussed on day two, their choice to donate to nonprofit organizations discussed on day three, and the option to buy nonessentials with any leftover money. In using all of these topics we were able to make connections with the academic standards for second grade economics and language arts. At the end of this activity we plan on having an open dialogue to discuss what the students have learned, the connections they’ve made, how they’re thinking has been changed, and how they can use this new way of thinking in their everyday lives.
In conclusion, by incorporating real life situation related to the students’ community, we were able to connect the topics discussed in the lesson plans with the standards provided in the Georgia Performance and Common Core standards. We decided to use standards such as: SS2E1 The student will explain that because of scarcity, people must make choices and incur opportunity costs, SS2E2 The student will identify ways in which goods and services are allocated (by price; majority rule; contests, force; sharing; lottery; command; first-come, first-served; personal characteristics; and others), and Reading Standards #9: Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story by different authors or from different cultures. We hope that this mini-inquiry unit will allow students to see the economic differences in their community, spur them to critically think about their spending choices, and encourage them to become active members in their community. They can become active members through giving back and helping those in need.