PBS Launches Online Resources for Finance and Economics Teachers

In the midst of all the talk about such important 21st-century skills as critical thinking, problem solving, and technological proficiency, the topic that dominates the news and many an adult discussion is one that often gets short shrift in the K-12 environment: finance and the economy. PBS Teachers is looking to remedy this with "Access, Analyze, Act," a new collection of digital resources to help primary and secondary school teachers give students an introduction to and overview of what all the "money talk" really means.

Through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), several public media outlets have formed the Economy Collaboration project to produce a broad range of stories and other media resources aimed at informing students (and the American public) about the many facets of world, national, regional, and local economies. These resources are designed to help explain broad concepts and key terminology, as well as the application of these concepts in the real world. The goal is to make economics a comprehensible subject and a very real part of life, showing how economic activity affects individuals and communities and the way they function.

The Access, Analyze, Act resource collection offers the following features:

  • Welcome and introduction by PBS NOW's host and senior editor, David Brancaccio, encouraging teachers to make the study of economics a personal story, with recommendations of specific resources for teachers to stay informed;
  • Eight lesson plans focused on real-world case studies on four economic topics, with introductions by Michael Mandel, chief economist for BusinessWeek;
  • A glossary of economic terms, with some presented in animations; and
  • A comprehensive listing of PBS's original content, digital media and Web resources related to the economy.

"The events of the past year on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C., offer a unique lens through which teachers can examine economic theories, events and issues with their students, while teaching critical thinking skills," said Donelle Blubaugh, PBS education director. This collection of resources, she explained, "enables educators to provide an engaging learning environment for students to connect abstract, challenging economic concepts, such as securitization and derivatives, with real-world examples to gain a better understanding of how the U.S. economy works. Students also learn about important issues facing their communities."

The public media outlets participating in the Economy Collaboration project include: National Public Radio, "The NewsHour," PBS, PRX, PRI's "The World," "Marketplace" (American Public Media), "Nightly Business Report," Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI), Capitol News Connection, Public Interactive (PI), WNYC, and KQED.

PBS Teachers will offer a free Webinar in March demonstrating ways to integrate the resources of "Access, Analyze, Act" into K-12 classroom environments. Further information about the Webinar can be found here.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.