I slipped into the second grade classroom a few weeks ago to observe our high school economics students teaching economics principles to the 2nd graders at their various centers. The room was crackling with energy. The econ students gave animated, energetic presentations and the 2nd graders jumped right in – no attention problems here! I was amazed to see that even some of the reluctant students from both age groups came out of their shells to participate. It was a wonderful learning experience for both “teachers” and pupils!
Robbie Coxon, Director of Academics
My second grade students are expected in social studies to learn and understand the basics of economics. So, I arrived at the following question: How can I effectively teach my second graders to grasp such advanced economic concepts as opportunity cost; human, natural, and capital resources; and specialization, in an authentic and meaningful way so that they are able to connect and thus, understand them? I decided to employ the help of Mr. Mike Vanden Berg, the high school economics teacher. We decided that the best way to benefit both groups of students was to incorporate multi-age cooperative learning opportunities involving the grouping of his students with my own. The high school students developed level-appropriate lesson plans complete with hands-on activities that would best suit the needs of my students. The lessons and activities involved my second graders moving from one group to the next, all the while learning from and interacting with the high school students. All students from both levels were actively engaged and involved in the learning process. As a teacher, it was so wonderful to observe students learning from each other! This experience has exceeded my expectations, and I hope to incorporate more multi-age cooperative learning opportunities in the future!
Carrie Paddock, 2nd grade teacher
When Mrs. Carrie Paddock asked me if my 11th grade Economics class could help her 2nd graders learn and understand the economic concepts of opportunity cost, factors of production, and basics about running a business, my first thought was, “I don’t have the time to take a few days to do this.” However, once I thought about it, the benefits far outweighed the three days this activity took my class.
I placed my Econ class into groups, each charged with the task of teaching one or two of the 2nd grade standards. Beyond that, I instructed each group to come up with an activity or a creative way to teach the concepts on a 2nd grade level. One group brought in different types of candy to teach about opportunity cost. Another group worked with the students to create paper pizzas to teach about different factors of production. A third group worked with students to create Valentine cards, teaching about different types of capital.
The 2nd graders worked well, learned much, and enjoyed the company of the older students. The high school students thoroughly learned the material that they taught, and were forced to truly understand the concepts in order to relate the information to a second grade level. The whole experience was wonderful for my high school students, who not only gained a deeper understanding of economic concepts we had learned in class, but also grasped the responsibility of being role models to our next generations here at CTA. This type of activity has great academic and social benefits for both sides involved, and is something that I plan to implement with greater frequency in years to come.
Mike Vanden Berg, Social Studies