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NWPE Member Chris Best Reports on Foundation for Teaching Economics Institute
posted by: Cindy Omlin | September 17, 2014, 01:57 PM   

NWPE member Chris Best, Vallivue High School math teacher in Caldwell, ID, reports on his attendance at the Foundation for Teaching Economics Institute on Economics and the Environment which a scholarship from NWPE helped finance for him: 

With the help of a scholarship from NWPE,  I attended the Foundation for Teaching Economics' Institute on Economics and the Environment in McCall, ID, this summer.   About 41 teachers attended; many taught social studies, but a good number, like me, taught other subjects.  Most were from Idaho or Oregon, but others were from Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Texas and Hawaii. The two presenters were pleasant and good communicators.  The sessions were well organized and ran on time. The topics were pertinent and easily adapted to other fields.  We used activities and simulations with enough lecture woven throughout for us to understand the economics-related issues.

chris best benefit fair clip

Topics we covered included Understanding the Relationship between the Environment and the Economy, The Tragedy of the Commons, Land Use Simulation (deciding on where to locate a proposed new school given realistic parameters), Using Incentives to Preserve Species, Improving Environmental Quality Using a Market Simulation, and Applying Economic Concepts to the Environment.  We also had an all-day field trip to a weather station, to the 
University of Idaho McCall Outdoor Science School

and to two privately owned forests.  After we cored trees to estimate their ages, there was enough time to gather some huckleberries.


The presenters, who were retired educators, modeled the techniques they were teaching. "People respond to incentives in predictable ways" was an often-repeated concept. Students often need incentives in addition to love of learning and grades to motivate them to succeed.  Giving positive reinforcements will encourage some students to strive for excellence.  One incentive was having participants earn raffle tickets for being ready to begin each session.  At the end of the day, winners of various items like books or bottles of wine were selected using those tickets.  My wife and I are using a variation of this to encourage our children to arrive at the supper table on time. 

Another idea emphasized was the use of simulations.  I plan to make more use of simulations to stimulate students interest and learning.  When they have to face sets of parameters and need to make decisions limited by those constraints, they get a more realistic view of life processes for which they will soon be responsible.

The Institute was a good learning experience worth two graduate credits in a beautiful location.  The atmosphere was relaxed, but professional. The venue was excellent as were the snacks served.  I am glad to be a member of NWPE which helped promote this class.  I am thankful for the scholarship that helped make it possible for me to attend.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Glad you could use it
written by Kali, September 17, 2014

Chris, thanks for posting this blog about the workshop. I hope TeachIdaho can continue to partner with NWPE on these valuable Professional Development.

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