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Managing money is a skill that everyone will need to use and is an essential part of functioning in today’s society. By exposing students to the ins and outs of financial management, the Applied Economics course at the Plano Institute will prepare students to manage their own money in the future. This class will educate students how to properly invest through an examination of microeconomic theory and teach them how they fit into the larger economy. Each class will also experience first hand what it is like to invest with its Student Investment Fund. This fund will be around $10,000 per class that the students will invest under teacher supervision to better understand the economy and prepare them to invest with confidence in the future. The one thing that really makes this class unique is this Student Investment Fund, or SIF. As one of the only student-run investment funds at the high school level, our SIF is unique in allowing students to practice the investment skills they will learn in class at a young age. This is not just investment in a real world situation; it is the real world with real money. Students will conduct research and apply their knowledge of microeconomics to create proposals on an investment portfolio. The students will then discuss and deliberate these proposals with teacher guidance and eventually take a vote on what should be done. Afterwards the class will analyze the results from each decision and the teacher and students will work out what was successful and what was not, and why. The Plano Institute has an amazing way to really involve students in the use of guest speakers every week. These respected individuals will vary in the subject matter that they speak about, but every few weeks a guest speaker’s lecture will be easily relatable to this class. By listening to a professional economist or a mutual fund manager our students can learn from a new perspective how to manage money or work in the economy. These experts will demonstrate how students will be able to use what they learn in school in the real world when they are older, and the knowledge they give to them will be invaluable.
Applied Economics will attempt to follow the Plano Institute’s goal of preparing students for the real world. We hope that students will be very much prepared by the end of this class and will be able to combine that with a broad base in economics. After taking this course we hope that students will: 1. Have an understanding of microeconomics and be able to apply that to themselves and how they function inside of the economy. 2. Be able to invest money successfully and obtain a deeper knowledge about investing through hands on experience with the SIF. 3. Explore how they will fit into and affect the economy as an individual consumer and investor. 4. Learn from guest speakers who are experts in the field of economics and continue to use what they learn from them and the class in general in the future to be financially successful.
The homework for this class will focus on the SIF and the research necessary to make a return. Students will be expected to research companies that are being invested in, follow the news regarding them, and
analyze their growth. Detailed reports and proposals will be turned in at teacher discretion, which will be roughly every week. The students should focus on trying to make money from the SIF as it is their real world example and will help them understand how to invest. However, students should also study and be prepared for economic tests that will be given to make sure students understand the concepts of microeconomics that are being taught. Review worksheets will be given out by the teacher to help study for tests and should be completed as a reference tool, though they will not be taken for grades.
The grade for this class will be calculated as follows: Tests 40% SIF Reports 40% Review Worksheets 20%
Tests: Tests will be over microeconomics material and will be a variety of multiple choice, short answer, and essay type tests. These tests can also be application questions, usually essay, with more real world problems and applications of things learned in class or learned from the SIF. SIF Reports: These written reports about research the students have done pertaining to the SIF and proposals for investment with the SIF will be very important in the student’s learning of investing through the SIF. Teachers will use these reports to assess the students on their knowledge of the SIF and make sure that they understand what is being done with it. As such, these reports are very important and with tests will make up large part of the grade. Review Worksheets: The review worksheets will be given about every week and will constitute a smaller portion of the total grade as their purpose is more to prepare students for tests and make sure that they are keeping up with the class.
Attendance and Make-Up
Be in class and on time every day. It is important that you are in class for discussion every day and to not be tardy. If you are late to class you will be marked tardy and if you are absent you will be marked as such. If you accumulate too many unexcused absences for this class you will be punished according to the school-wide policy. If you miss a discussion talk to your teacher to see what you missed and possibly coming in before or after school to make up anything you missed in class, and/or talk to other students about what was discussed on the day you missed. If you miss a test please make it up as soon as possible and talk to your teacher to find a time within a few days for when you can make it up.
The use of technology for school purposes is strongly encouraged in the class and at home. We will use our surface tablets for note taking and research in class. The tablet will also be used to research at home and get the news that is necessary to write the SFI Reports. That said, while we encourage the use of the tablet for research, we trust that the students will remain on task and will use technology as a tool and not let it be a distraction.
This is the rough outline for what we will do each six weeks of the year.
First Six Weeks
We will first study basic economic concepts such as scarcity and choice, marginal analysis, and a basic understanding of economic systems. We will begin to start investments with the SIF and apply the economics we are learning.
Second Six Weeks
The second six weeks we will focus on the nature and functions of product markets and learn the concept of supply and demand in detail as well as the theory of consumer choice. We will continue to use the SIF and examine more real world options with personal investment.
Third Six Weeks
The SIF will continue to be used extensively and as we progress through the year and students learn more about economics and investing they will begin to take a more active role in the use of the SIF. The microeconomics we will be learning is production and costs and profit.
Fourth Six Weeks
At the beginning of the second semester we will look at perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, and monopolistic competition. These economic ideas will be looked at in real world situations, such as past monopolistic companies, and what we learn will of course be used to teach students how to invest for themselves and will be practiced through the SIF.
Fifth Six Weeks
During this time we will learn about factor markets. This class will put a special emphasis on hiring decisions in this unit as we feel it is an especially real world situation that many students may encounter if they follow a managerial path in the future. The students should be running the SIF almost without the teacher at this point and we will continue to use real world examples to help teach the student on how to be an individual investor.
Sixth Six Weeks
The final six weeks. As we wrap up the year we will look at what hopefully won’t, but could, happen: market failure. We feel it is important for students to know what to do if the economy does slump and how to be a smart and safe investor at that time. We will also look at the role of government and how it can affect the economy to give students a better idea of how they feel they should participate in government. At the end of the year we will continue to use the SIF and finally see what our return was.
The textbook will be distributed via each student’s Surface. Krugman’s Microeconomics for AP, 1st Edition by David Anderson and Margaret Ray The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel by Benjamin Graham, Jason Zweig, and Warren Buffett.
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