Friday, December 19, 2014


Many people in Northern Indiana will be celebrating Christmas next week.  Perhaps you're one of them, perhaps not.  Many are already celebrating Hanukkah, which started Tuesday evening.  Perhaps you are lighting your Menorah.

Here in social studies, we're closing out 2014 by introducing a topic.  It may be counter-intuitive, to start something that I'll have to reintroduce in a couple weeks, but I think it's worth it.

Teaching about religions in the United States can be a little bit tricky.  But there they are in the 7th grade standards.  Standard indicator 7.1.2 to be exact.

So, we're trying to foster understanding: what do we believe?  What do other people believe?  Why?

Students will need to be familiar with some terminology early on in this unit:


Whether you're celebrating a holiday or not, I hope you enjoy the break.  It'll be 2015 when we get back.  Hopefully we have some hoverboards.  

If you want some extra credit when you return, discuss what you believe with an adult in your house.  Have them tell you what they believe about God or gods or the supernatural.  Write down 4 sentences from your discussion and have them sign it.  Turn it in when we return.

Until then, take it easy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No E.C. Today

I'm trying to get as many grades entered as possible, so there's no post today.

Go relax.  Read a book.

Maybe this one?

...I just finished it.  I'll give beau coup extra credit if you read it and write a review.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gold Salt Trade - And a Map

Most of the day, we worked on finishing the map we started last week.  If you recall, I wanted the students to have a vague idea of the location of historical Ghana.  So, we started the Africa map.

If students didn't finish it in class, they may - as always, download it HERE.

Don't forget, if you're missing any assignments for my class - you get them from "H Block Assignments."

If you want the extra credit today, tell your parents whether or not you finished the map.  If you did, great.  If not, finish it up for tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Quiz Today

Three things happened in class today:

1.  We took the economics quiz.
2.  We played the opening round of the geography bee.
3.  We played an online game that Miss Short made up.

I'd never made or played a game like it before.  It was pretty fun.

If you weren't in class today, remind me on Monday that you need to take the quiz.  We'll finish our maps then, and go over the Gold/Salt trade simulation.

I hope to have all the quizzes graded and entered by the end of the day.  We'll see how that turns out.

If you're here for the extra credit, write me a note telling me what you thought of the game we played.

Turn it in on Monday.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gold Salt Trade

Yesterday and today, students participated in a simulation trading gold for salt.

Make It Rain

The activity tied together a lot of our studies.  The civilization/empire of Ghana originated around the Senegal and Niger Rivers.  (Can anybody guess why?)

It was in the middle of the trans-Saharan trade, which allowed it to become rich.

The students traded gold for salt - bartering in a traditional economy.  Each aspect of the activity was intended to represent actual aspects of the trades that happened hundreds of years ago.

The king (so it's a monarchy) tightly controlled the supply of gold.  All of the gold nuggets, or chunks, found in the kingdom had to be given to the king.  (Sounds like an absolute monarchy...)  (pg. 146)

People from one country are trading with people from another country: globalization.

Again, we're tying a lot together.

If you want the extra credit, you were supposed to read and discuss this with an adult.  Tell them about the activity.  What did you think.  How did you do?  Did you end up with more than when you started?  How did Ghana become so rich?

After you discuss it, write two sentences from your discussion.  Turn it in tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Africa, Economy, Ancient Civs, and Dunk a Chicken

We'll be tying a few things together tomorrow...  geography, history, economics, etc...

We'll be trading gold for salt in the trans-Saharan trade.

Today we worked on a map looking at that.

We started off the class, however, by watching a video.  (It started playing just before the bell, and ended just after the bell.)  If you want extra credit, watch it again and tell the adult why we watched it in class.  What did I want you NOT to forget?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quiz Friday

We're having an Economics quiz on Friday.  I sent home a review guide today.  If you weren't in school today, you can view or download the review guide here.

We spent a good portion of the day reviewing.  Part of that review was reading and discussing THIS ARTICLE about Elkhart County's GDP.  There was also a 10 point worksheet that went along with it.  If you weren't here, I'd download it and turn it in.  You can do that here.

If you weren't in class today, read and discuss that article with an adult.  If you were in class, you may summarize it and discuss it with an adult.

To earn the extra credit, write two sentences from your discussion, and ask one question about the article, GDP, or economics in general.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.)

*Update/Edit*  A couple ladies from my 7th hour class watched Frozen over the weekend.  They pointed something out to me...  Extra extra credit to anybody who tells me how this clip ties in with what we're studying.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

#Money #GDP

A good quiz for my students: what is the economy?  Whenever you see or hear the word economy, what should you think of?

Production, distribution, and consumption of goods.

Every. Time.

So, when they see words like economic spillover, they know that it has something to do with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods.

I taught economic spillover yesterday, but didn't have time to post.  Economic spillover - which is now being called externalities - are the unintended positive and negative consequences of economic development.  When someone decides to build a factory, why do they build it?  Profit.  To make money.

Some by-products may be air pollution or noise pollution.  Maybe a Starbucks around the corner popped up to sell the workers coffee in the morning.  Did the factory owner build the factory because he wanted to pollute and drink Starbucks?  No.  He wanted to make a profit; those are externalities - they happened anyway.

GDP = Gross Domestic Product.  When my students see the word product, it should now be linked to economics, or the economy.  Things made.

What's the Gross Domestic Product of the United States?  16.8 Trillion.  What about Indiana?  246.4 Billlion.

So, if you took everything the U.S. made in a year and added the profit for all of it, you would get 16.8 trillion dollars.  Not bad.  We're #1 baby.  (That is, if you go by country...)  If you figure GDP per capita, then we're ranked 10th.

GDP and money are difficult to visualize.  I mean, a trillion dollars?  I can't really conceive how much a billion is.  Honestly, when I bought my house I had trouble understanding the high thousands...

This chart really helps with that:

I'm not sure if my blog will let you zoom in on the chart as much as xkcd does.  If it doesn't you should check it out there.  Each little green square represents one dollar.  Each little orange square represents $1000.  Yellow = $1,000,000,000.  Gray/purple = $1,000,000,000.  Blue = $1,000,000,000,000.

If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing today, start by asking this question: what is the economy?  Then discuss GDP.  Finally, look at that chart for a couple minutes.  On a scrap of paper, write down 2 things that stood out to you on that chart.  Write them down.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Working for Beans

Last week we discussed the economy: the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

Early this week we'll be discussing how that happens.  I teach that there are 4 basic economic systems: command, market, mixed, and traditional.

A command economy is controlled by the government.  Maybe they force people to produce specific goods - or severely limit what people may buy.  If you're familiar with The Hunger Games, you know what I'm talking about.  The Capitol forced District 12 to produce coal.  District 12 didn't have a choice.  Command economy.

A market economy is based on supply and demand.  (Demand being something people want or need... this always confused me as a kid...)  In a market economy, if someone thinks they can make money selling something, then they should sell it.  Again, from The Hunger Games, Peeta's dad was a baker.  He wasn't forced to bake bread, but he thought he could make ends meet by doing so.

A traditional economy is based on need and, well... tradition.  When Katniss went hunting in... yeah... The Hunger Games... she didn't know what she would bag.  If she shot 3 squirrels and a rabbit, that's what she traded.  The hunting skills were passed down from her father.  There is still an aspect of supply and demand, but it's based on availability and necessity rather than profit.  And generally, the skills are passed down by tradition.

In all actuality, the only true economic system is a mix of these three.  And it's uninspired name is a "mixed economy."

We looked at the different types of economic systems today using beans.  In one scenario the government highly regulated what students could produce.  In a second scenario, there were no limits, profit was the only motivator.  (And it proved to be a big motivator.)  The third was a mix of the previous two.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog with an adult, write a sentence about your discussion.  Include which method of putting the beans in the cup worked out best and why.  Have the adult sign the paper.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it and turn it in tomorrow.

Some pictures: