Review by Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2015

WE THE ECONOMY

Explore big questions about the economy with collection of short films

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Math
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
9-12
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Pros: Entertaining videos cover a wide range of topics that will help students gain a better understanding of complex economic issues.

Cons: Some of the animation and comedy may obscure understanding of economic issues; questions may arise about the political views of the filmmakers.

Bottom Line: Detailed films can help raise awareness about economic issues that are often ignored or misunderstood.

The films available through WE THE ECONOMY are best used to supplement the curriculum in a high school economics course or a history course covering economic issues. Teachers should take time to review the 20 films to see how they can support the teaching of basic economic concepts. For example, the film on the federal reserve would increase understanding of the role of the institution and also add depth to a discussion on the government response to the Great Depression. Whole-class viewing of the films would allow for questions and in-depth explanations. Teachers may also want to use the materials provided in the companion guide to further engage students on the topics that are covered in each film.     

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WE THE ECONOMY is a collection of 20 short films about the economy. The films cover content in response to five different questions: what is the economy, what is money, what is the role of our government in the economy, what is globalization, and what causes inequality. For each question, there are four or five different films that address key issues related to the overall topic. For example, the films on globalization cover trade, human rights, jobs, and U.S.-China relations. Each film lasts between five and eight minutes. The films use a range of techniques to engage viewers, including animation, dance, and comedy. In addition to the films, you can download a lengthy companion guide with discussion questions, lesson plans, standards, handouts, and much more.

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This site can be a valuable resource for teachers to help students become informed about economic issues. Overall, the films simplify complex content in a way that should be accessible to a variety of learners. Important concepts like supply and demand, the role of government in the economy, and economic inequality are addressed with humor, music, and stories that students should find relevant and interesting. The films are a good supplement to just reading a textbook and completing worksheets. Film topics are amusing and relatable: The film on supply and demand includes a sales competition between two students who are selling canes to dancers, and an animated film on economic inequality uses a magical land of lollipops and friendship to demonstrate the growing divide in wealth distribution.

It should be noted that some of the content does get lost with all of the bells and whistles, and teachers will need to determine which of the films will be useful for their particular group of students and learning objectives. Overall, though, this is a nice supplemental tool for the government, social studies, or economics classroom. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Interest in complex economic issues should rise as students view short films. The use of animation, dance, and comedy should appeal to the majority of students, but not all may be engaged. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Companion guides provide teachers with Common Core-aligned discussion questions, specific lesson plans, and extension activities. Many students will need additional reinforcement of the content. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The website is easy to navigate, and the short films are clearly organized by category. Once registered, teachers can download the guide that includes suggestions on how to use the films.


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Jennifer Sitkin Classroom teacher

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