Participation in Government and Economics

Participation in Government and Economics are each a one semester course for grade 12 students.

In Economics, students work on two major units:

The first is to start and operate a business culminating in a Business Plan Competition. Using the NFTE curriculum, students become entrepreneurs as they learn how to identify consumer needs, conduct market research, market their product/service, and complete a business plan with these ideas. Additionally, their business plans include yearly sales projections based on the market research as well as a yearly projected income statement, return on investment and return on sales. Students are also required to keep records of their sales, inventory, and net profit. Furthermore, students must have a social responsibility plan. Lastly, students present these plans in front of judges from the business community in order to win seed money to expand their businesses.

The second unit revolves around International Trade and disparities between developing and developed countries. Students investigate the role of the World Trade Organization in creating free trade rules. They also explore illegal labor practices such as sweatshops and child labor. They question whether or not these practices hurt or help a country’s economy develop. Furthermore, students look at the business model of Fair Trade as a viable option to replace sweatshops and child labor. Students use web quests, videos, newspaper articles, simulations, and books to discover information about these topics. They then choose a topic to further research.

In Participation in Government, students work on two major units:

The first is the research paper that they started through the lens of Economics. Not only do students investigate their particular topic from an economic viewpoint, but they must also investigate the role of government. Furthermore, a key tenet of democracy is that everyone has a voice, and people must participate in democracy in order for it to work. To make this connection, students raise awareness about their topic at a Social Justice Expo. They did this in 2008 at Columbia University and in 2009 at New York University.

The second unit revolves around the Constitution and the three branches of the American Government. Students use the Constitution to understand how the three branches of government were created as well as states’ rights and federalism. Then they explore each branch separately.

When they look at the Legislative branch, they learn about the bicameral legislature and how a bill becomes a law. Subsequently, they follow one current bill in Congress and write a letter to their Senator or Representative about their feelings toward that bill. In 2009, students studied the DREAM Act and wrote their letters using current research to support their opinions.

In the Executive branch, students learn how the President is elected and his role and powers, along with his Cabinet Members and the various departments within the branch. After, students learn how to manipulate the national budget using the National Budget Simulation sponsored by EconEdLink.

In the Judicial Branch, students learn about 1st Amendment rights using Supreme Court Cases. They also learn how a case travels through the Federal Court system. Lastly, students read the play “12 Angry Men” in order to learn about the jury system.

Readings: 
NFTE textbook, Entrepreneurs in Profile
U.S. Constitution and other related primary documents
“12 Angry Men”
Congressional Record
Students use web quests, videos, newspaper articles, simulations, and books to discover information about topics studied in class.
Media Used: 
Business Plans are created on Microsoft PowerPoint
For more information about the NFTE curriculum, visit www.nfte.com.
For more detailed information on this curriculum, visit http://teachersnetwork.org/grantWinners/TeachNetGrant08_LauraBerson.cfm
http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.php?lesson=EM306
Significant Activities or Projects: 

In 2009, students studied the DREAM Act and wrote letters to their Senator or Representative using current research to support their opinions.

Students learn how to manipulate the national budget using the National Budget Simulation sponsored by EconEdLink.

Sample PBATs: 
PBAT – Who is responsible for trade disparities and labor conditions? After investigating the World Trade Organization, coffee and cocoa production, child labor, sweatshop conditions, and the business model of Fair Trade, through hands-on, experiential activities, students individually choose one topic to further research and explore. The end product is a 7-10 page research paper using MLA format. Additionally, students learn that consumers are partially responsible for some of the unfair conditions, so students take action based upon their research.