High School Lesson Plans: Economics and Globalization

High School Lesson Plans: Economics and Globalization

These resources are appropriate for grade levels 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th.
Lesson Plans:

  1. Closing the Gap
    The students learn what GDP is. They learn different measures of GDP as well as how GDP per capita can be used to compare countries. They calculate GDP per capita and learn how poorer countries can converge, or close the gap, with richer countries.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 2-3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit EconEdLink.

  2. The Celtic Mouse That Roared
    The WIDE ANGLE episode "Mixed Blessings" depicts the mixed blessings that a "tiger economy" has had on the nation of Ireland and the city of Limerick. The "Celtic Tiger," which has brought rapid economic growth along with a higher standard of living, has also brought significant upheaval to traditional Irish society and culture, including a decline in the influence of the Catholic Church, high interest rates and inflation, and a turning away from farming as part of the Irish economy. In this lesson, students will investigate how the Celtic Tiger has affected Ireland both positively and negatively, particularly the impact on traditional society and culture. This investigation will culminate with a "town hall meeting" in which the class collaborates to come up with possible outcomes and solutions to problems that affect them from their sudden, explosive economic growth.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 4-6 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit Wideangle.

  3. The Effects of Globalization
    Using China as a case study, students will explore the entry of developing countries into the WTO and the effects of globalization. What is the WTO? Who gains and who loses from globalization? Students will focus on two perspectives:

    1. The entry of developing countries into the WTO is hurting those countries.

    2. The entry of developing countries into the WTO is empowering those countries.

    Using the Academic Controversy model, students will develop skills in: creating and presenting arguments; researching; collaboration and communication; conflict resolution and consensus-building. Students will be evaluated on participation, use of student organizers, and a culminating project, which will demonstrate their understanding of the content and their mastery of the Academic Controversy process.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 2-3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit Wideangle.

  4. Marketplace: Let's Go Euro!
    In any economic system, people must decide what to produce, how to produce it, when to produce it, and who will get it. This lesson looks at the "when" question. In particular, if society has only a finite amount of some resource, when should that resource be used -- today, tomorrow, or not at all? This problem is sometimes called the "cake-eating" problem: given a cake (with good preservatives!), what is the best way to eat it? All at once? A little each day? or by some other pattern of consumption? In this lesson students learn how people making decisions in the market for a nonrenewable resource decide when the resource will be used. After reviewing the news around Clinton's Africa visit and his focus on environmental issues in Botswana, they are introduced to the "when" question with a spring holiday variation of the 'cake-eating' problem. The snacks described in the problem are then used to demonstrate how a market for a nonrenewable resource works.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 2-3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit EconEdLink.

  5. Trading Up? Exploring International Perspectives on Free Trade
    In this lesson, students explore the benefits and drawbacks of free trade from the perspective of the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile and Mexico. For homework, they each write a letter to the editor expressing their personal viewpoint on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.


  1. Commanding Heights
    This site offers a comprehensive overview of global economic history from the beginning of the First World War through 2002. Along with a six-hour video narrative divided into short chapters, it includes extensive interviews, essays, charts, reports, an interactive atlas of history, and economic data related to the topics of globalization, economic development, and international trade.

    The Commanding Heights Storyline provides a complete netcast of the six-hour television program as originally broadcast -- in three two-hour episodes. Each episode is subdivided into chapters listed in the chapter menu, together with links to additional related content on the site. This site is designed for students of economics, modern world history, political science, and international relations at the college and university undergraduate level. It can also be useful in upper-level high school courses associated with the same topics. The site can be used both as a primary teaching "text" to introduce students to important events and ideas related to political economy, and also as a secondary resource to foster critical thinking about economic issues through structured research and comparison of outcomes.

    The six-hour video series presents a specific viewpoint on economic affairs (based on the book Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, 3rd edition, 2002). The information contained within the site is sufficiently comprehensive that it can support a wide range of interpretation and analysis, however.

    Time needed for lesson plan: Varies

    To link to the actual unit plan, please visit Commanding Heights.

  2. The Developed Countries and the Promise of Globalization
    This Unit is broken down into three broad topics that each include 5-6 subtopics (that could be taught as individual lessons). Student readings, student assignments, and teacher resources are included. The first two units cover the economic structure and advantages held by developed nations as technology enabled a globalized economy. The last unit concentrates on problems that arise from globalization. The three units combine to form a comprehensive economic investigation of globalization.

    Topic 1: The Developed Countries:The Anotomy of Economic Development

    Unit 1 deals with the developed countries, which are often referred to as the advanced economies. It provides students with a basic understanding of developed countries, their common characteristics, and the economic, political, and social factors that have contributed to their successful economic development. In doing so, Unit 1 examines in some detail how developed countries nurture their factors of production (natural, human, and capital resources), as well as their technology and entrepreneurship. These topics are dealt with in five Student Readings and nine transparencies. A number of social studies skills are also woven into Unit 1. These skills appear in the seven Student Activities, which are linked to the Student Readings. Specific skills include mapping, organizing information into tables, reading for information (using the CAPT model), drawing conclusion from original research data, and writing (news articles and persuasive writing). Original student research, including Internet use, is emphasized in many of the Student Activities.

    Topic 2: Connectivity and Globalization: The Benefits of Being "Plugged In"

    Unit 2 focuses on the developed, or advanced countries as participants in the global economy. It provides students with insights into the globalization process, both historically and in the present. The unit also features a number of factors that contribute to globalization and the prosperity that this process can generate—especially for the developed world. The developed countries benefit directly from their advanced technologies, immense wealth (and thus the capacity to benefit from international trade, foreign direct investment, and financial dealing in global capital markets), and economic and political freedoms. The unit concludes with one downside of globalization, however—the danger of financial contagion in a global economy that is so highly integrated and interdependent. Materials in the Resource Guide include six Student Readings, eight Student Activities, and thirteen transparencies. Key social studies skills include analyzing and expressing viewpoints, organizing information (tables and flow chart), conducting original research (for case studies and a competitiveness report), reading for information (CAPT model).

    Topic 3: Global Challenges: Fulfilling the Promise of Globalization (Description unavailable)

    Time needed for lesson plan: Varies

    To link to the actual unit plan, please visit The Center for International Business Education and Research.

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