Personal Finance and Professional Development with the Classroom Economist

Many teachers are already familiar with the Classroom Economist's treatment of such economic topics as unemployment, gross domestic product, and inflation, as well as Federal Reserve history, structure and functions. With video content featuring economists and master teachers, voiceover Power Points, Test Your Knowledge quizzes, SMART lessons, and resource guides, the Classroom Economist offers five different types of teaching tools to increase your own knowledge or to share with your students (or both).

Moreover, each module has a versatility that lends itself to a number of applications outside of the class hour. You can embed the lessons into classroom management systems such as Blackboard or Moodle, use the content as a source for homework or extra credit assignments, or make a lesson a computer lab activity. Best of all—you can access the content on the web—at no cost.

In the spring of 2013, look for two new ways to use this flexible learning tool.

The Classroom Economist teaches personal finance
After eight modules that have focused on economic topics or on the Federal Reserve System, the Classroom Economist is switching gears in 2013 and taking a look at personal finance themes using the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's popular Katrina's Classroom series. Each new module will feature video content from the series, plus the familiar components from previous editions: voiceover PowerPoint, SMART lesson, Test Your Knowledge quiz, and a resource guide.

The inaugural module with the new focus will correlate with the series' first video, "Katrina Strikes." The module will look at natural disasters, emergency and financial preparedness—including creating plans and setting goals—risk management, wants and needs, decision making, and scarcity and opportunity cost. It will also include an updated lesson plan in both SMART and PowerPoint formats, aligned to both Common Core and National Jump$tart Personal Finance standards. Subsequent editions will connect to the rest of the videos in the series, which teach personal finance concepts by telling the stories of three teens who lived through Hurricane Katrina and the lessons they learned.

Professional development with the Classroom Economist and Econ Ed Live!
In the spring of 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Classroom Economist teams up with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis's Econ Ed online courses to offer teachers another option to carry out professional development. The St. Louis Fed's free interactive online courses span a dozen topics, from economics and personal finance to international trade and history, and include pre- and post-tests, polling and discussion questions, and an easy registration process. Teachers in several states can already earn one hour of Continuing Professional Development credit by working with their students to complete an online course on topics in both economics and personal finance.  But beginning this spring, the site adds two additional professional development options: Federal Reserve Bank Certification and Graduate Credit. Teachers can receive Federal Reserve Bank Certification in topics such as inflation and unemployment by participating in 10 hours of lessons, readings, and online programming. There is no fee or additional registration process for either Federal Reserve Bank certification or for Continuing Professional Development Credit.

In addition, graduate credit will be offered through the University of Colorado at a competitive rate. Teachers will be granted one hour of graduate credit for completing 15 hours of coursework, including carrying out readings, participating with their students in an online interactive course, and completing a unit assessment.

If you are interested in either of these two new options, please contact the St. Louis Fed's Barb Flowers at, or watch for more information—coming soon—on the St. Louis Fed's professional development page. The first three graduate courses offered will cover the topics of inflation, unemployment, and GDP, with more to be added in the future.

By Lesley Mace, economic and financial education specialist with the Jacksonville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
March 1, 2013