This summer, the Center for Economic Education at Virginia Tech will host two Economics Institutes for K-12 teachers based on a new practice-based theory of effective economics instruction.  

“Economics is often a difficult subject for most K-12 teachers to make accessible, relevant, and engaging for their students,” said Cheryl Ayers, associate director of the Virginia Tech Center for Economic Education and the primary instructor for the institutes. “But my hope is that the practical instructional strategies that will be presented at the institutes will assist teachers in delivering economics instruction in a way that empowers students to become prosperous democratic citizens.”

The first institute will take place in Roanoke, June 19-21 and 26-28 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided each of the six days, along with a wealth of lesson plans teachers can use to teach all of Virginia’s K-12 economics standards.

The second institute will follow the same format with breakfast, lunch, and lesson plans provided. It will take place in Abingdon July 17-19 and 24-26 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The programs are free for public school teachers, and K-12 educators are encouraged to attend.

Teachers may register for both the Roanoke Institute and the Abingdon Institute on the Virginia Council on Economic Education webpage. A $50 refundable deposit is required to complete the registration process. Registration for both events ends May 20.

The Center for Economic Education at Virginia Tech, which is housed in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, is affiliated with the Virginia Council on Economic Education and services teachers in Southwest Virginia. The center provides research-based instructional practices and resources to help teachers educate Virginia’s students on economics, personal finance, and entrepreneurship.

Each of the two summer institutes will demonstrate best practices for teaching economics as determined by an in-depth qualitative study Ayers conducted, currently in press by The Journal of Social Studies Research. The study synthesizes teaching methods from three award-winning teachers of Virginia’s required high school course, Economics and Personal Finance.

The institutes will focus on bringing economics to life in middle and high school classrooms by applying research that suggests teachers connect economics content to other subjects and grade levels, employ active-learning practices, and relate lessons to students’ everyday lives. These techniques will help teachers develop students’ economic reasoning skills and prepare them for democratic citizenship. 

“Our institutes are uniquely designed to teach the required content of Virginia’s Economics and Personal Finance course, as well as all of the economics content in the K-12 curriculum, by modeling these instructional methods,” said Ayers. “Economics and personal finance concepts are so important in everyday life that being effective in teaching them is vital. After all, economics is a life skill and a lens through which to make sense of the world.”

Teachers who attend either program can earn up to 42 hours of professional development credit and become a Virginia Council on Economic Education Certified Economics Educator.

Written by Jillian Broadwell