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Lesson Plan: How the Economy Works -- Grades 6-8

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Overview: Use the Scholastic News Online Special Report on the economy to help students understand both general economic terms and the roots of the current crisis.

Duration: about 50-100 minutes (1 -2 class periods)


Students will be able to:

• Understand important terminology related to the American economic system, including credit, debt, and Bailout Bill
• Recognize the impact the current economic crisis is having on families, investors, and others

Materials: Computer(s) with Internet access; Be an Economic Reporter PDF (optional)

Set Up and Prepare: Preview the Special Report prior to the lesson. Make copies of the PDF.


1. Ask students to share and discuss any economic news they have heard lately. List key words that come up, such as Bailout Bill, mortgage, or stocks, on the board or interactive whiteboard. Explain that students will be using an online Special Report to better understand these terms and the entire economic crisis.

2. Have students independently read the crisis overview and economic glossary. Then, challenge them to complete the interactive word-search game, which reviews 10 main economic words. Review answers.

3. Divide the class into three groups and have each group explore a section of the Special Report. One group will take the video tour of the New York Stock Exchange, another will read interviews with members of the House of Representatives about the controversial Bailout Bill, and a third will explore the money-saving tips for families. If you have a large class, have students read their assigned section independently, then meet with the other members of the group to highlight key points. Have each group summarize its section for the rest of the class.

4. Distribute copies of the Be an Economic Reporter PDF and review the directions with students. Remind students that as part of the Special Report, kid reporters interviewed members of Congress. Guide students to understand that they will plan similar interviews with others affected by the economic crisis. Have students begin by selecting two news "sources" they might interview. Encourage them to choose people who might have very different reactions to the economic crisis—possibly one from "Main Street" and one from "Wall Street."

5. Have students brainstorm questions they would ask each of the people they selected. Emphasize that all questions must include at least one economic term from the online glossary.

6. When students have finished, invite them to share their questions. Students who have chosen real newsmakers (such as presidential candidates or members of Congress) should consider writing letters to the newsmakers in an effort to get answers to their questions.

Lesson Extensions

Have students choose any publicly traded company. Ask them to find out the company's stock symbol, then check Web sites or the financial section of the newspaper for daily stock quotes.

Home Connection

Send home a note letting parents know about the economy-related resources available at Scholastic News Online. The articles, glossary, and budget tips are tools that parents can use to discuss the crisis at home.

Assess Students: Have each student hand in a completed PDF as well as a personal summary of the article or feature his or her group explored.

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