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The Economists in the Schools program promotes economic education by creating partnerships between Trinity University and San Antonio public schools. Under the program, teachers, school students and Trinity students of all majors work together to develop their conceptual understanding of economics and apply the knowledge in meaningful ways.
Each semester, students registered for the Economists in the Schools course are grouped into teams and are assigned a teacher and a class at a San Antonio elementary, middle, or high school. Students are advised by professors Richard Butler and Elizabeth Watson, as well as by a student adviser, on how to bring economic concepts to life in a classroom. The advisers focus on refining the teams' comparative advantage, creativity and enthusiasm, emphasizing collaborative learning and small-group work in the classrooms.
Participating students spend the semester developing lesson plans, and actively teaching the fundamentals of economics. Lesson plans are reviewed and rehearsed to ensure quality and effective classroom instruction. To bring understanding of concepts like scarcity, trade and comparative advantages, students in the past have created a mock antitrust trial, and built a semester-long lesson plan themed around the movie Mission Impossible.
There is no fixed curriculum. The topics are determined by the high school teacher and by the college students. These lessons focus on how to use basic economic concepts to understand and to address real-world policy. In the past, Trinity students have created a mock Federal Open Market Committee meeting in the classroom, as well as a mock antitrust trial.
This program focuses on hands-on activities, as well as on applied lessons to the middle school social studies curriculum. The curriculum focuses around concepts in scarcity, opportunity cost and tradeoffs, resources, specialization and comparative advantage, trade and the global economy, supply and demand-shortages/surpluses, and the economics of going to college.
The curriculum for the elementary teams was developed with fifth grade teachers at the pilot school, Harmony Hills Elementary, in San Antonio. The four concepts are scarcity/choice/opportunity cost, specialization and trade, supply and demand, and the economics of going to college. This model focuses on many activities and examples, and on a multisensory approach to teaching. Trinity students usually try to develop teaching methods that put the economics concepts in real world/life terms for the elementary students.
More information about the Economists in the Schools program can be found on the inside.Trinity page. Examples of lesson plans, and FAQs for both Trinity students and teachers from participating schools call all be found there.