Hard Times: The Economy
This lesson is envisioned as a two-day undertaking, with the HNN backgrounder and links assigned as homework for the second day.
The lesson is consistent with Common Core Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12, numbers 1 & 2 for 6-10, 2 for 11-12; number 4 for 6-12; 7 & 8 for 6-8 and number 7 for 9-12.
HNN backgrounder (assigned for first day), terms sheet, links, note-taking guide
Knowledge of basic concepts related to the recession
Understanding of explanations for the causes of the recession
Ability to debate the relative merits of solutions
1. Introductory questions (bell ringer) Do you know anyone affected by the poor economy? How? What are the different problems, both material and emotional, people are confronting? How do the problems vary according to class, race, age group, gender, etc.? Who or what is responsible for their difficulties?
Check for existing knowledge regarding terms: recession, depression, deficit, national debt, right vs. left (www.politicalcompass.org is useful). Clarify misconceptions. Students can take the Political Compass test, to locate them politically, for homework. Students should take the terms sheet and complete it for homework.
2. Class reads short news article on the recession: "Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs" (New York Times).
3. Discussion followed by essential questions:
4. Activities: Jigsaw the class, with each group addressing one essential question. Follow with presentations from each group, questions, and discussion.
1. Ask the class, working in groups, to develop programs to pull the country out of the downturn. Each group should choose a spokesperson to present its program, and when presentations are complete, students should debate relative their relative merits. They should also recognize where the various solutions fit on the political compass.
2. Summary/enrichment. Where do we go from here? What strategy best suits each solution?
Recession Lesson: Term Sheet
1. What are the definitions for recession? What is the Gross Domestic Product? Has the most recent recession ended? When? How useful is the definition?
2. What is the difference between a recession and a depression? Is there a good reason not to call current economic conditions a depression? Explain.
3. What is the difference between the national deficit and the national debt? How do opinions vary regarding the severity of the debt?
4. How can you distinguish between right-wing and left-wing regarding social issues? Regarding the role of the government?
Recession Lesson: Note-Taking for Essential Questions
1. How can we explain the causes of the current economic crisis?
2. How do the explanations vary? How do you evaluate their relative validity?
3. Is the current downturn a recession? Is it really a depression? Why or why not?
4. Why are the economies of some countries still doing well? (China, Brazil, India, Turkey, South Africa)
5. What solutions do the explanations for the crisis, and the experiences of thriving economies, suggest? Are there obstacles?
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