Award-winning Blaine econ class has unlikely roots

BLAINE, Minn. -- It's storytime at Roosevelt Middle School in Blaine, and business education teacher Carol Gutt unveils her choice for her 8th graders.

It's "Follow an Ice Cream Cone Around the World" by Neale S. Godfrey, and the fact thatthe saga comes with a third grade reading level doesn't bother Gutt in the least.

"It opens their eyes to global interdependence and how the different products that we eat, the ingredients, come from different places around the world," explained Gutt.

The book is the tool Gutt will use to introduce her computer students to economics concepts,such asa supply chain for students' favorite food items. They'll use Google Earth to map out their own supply chain.

The subject matter may seem secondary to the 8th graders who are learning new computer skills. But it's central to Gutt's efforts. She designed her curriculum following a class she took at the University of Minnesota that is also a partnership with the Minnesota Council on Economic Education.

"That gave teachers the opportunity to use their existing curriculum, but to build childrens' literature as an exciting component to help learn economics and financial literacy."

That's where the storytime comes in. While it does illustrate perfectly the lesson Gutt is trying to teach about where our products come from, it was a bit of a surprise to Gutt at just how much her students enjoyed the reading itself.

"The students asked if they could have a storytime unit of study again," said Gutt.

The lesson plan earned Gutt the 2012 Minnesota Economic Innovative Teacher award sponsored by 3M.

Gutt continues to tweak her lesson plan, but the intent remains the same, to encourage financial literacy among students. Her unit of study has been picked up by a Social Studies teacher as well as a Family and Consumer Science teacher.

You can find it and other award-winninglesson plans on the Minnesota Council on Economic Education website.


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