Top 5 Economics Lessons for High School and How to Teach Them Blog Feature
Chris Zook

By: Chris Zook on February 21st, 2019

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Top 5 Economics Lessons for High School and How to Teach Them

Business Education

Economics is a fundamental part of how the world — and individuals — works.

But in high schools throughout the country, it’s treated as an elective instead of a core competency.

Without the support and financial backing of the core, how do you find the right economics lessons to teach to your high school students?

More importantly, how do you teach them?

Fortunately, you have options!

On this page, we’ll take a look at five excellent classroom resources that you can use to introduce economics to your students.

1. Right Start in Teaching Economics (Foundation for Teaching Economics)

01-foundation-teaching-economicsThe Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE) is an American non-profit organization dedicated to informing students about the intricacies of the world economy.

That makes them an ideal resource for teachers throughout the United States. In fact, they offer seminars, programs, and training opportunities for educators who want to start teaching economics.

As part of this, they offer a whole suite of high school lesson plans about economics.

We recommend beginning with Right Start in Teaching Economics.

This is a package of 14 lessons that covers everything students need to form the foundation of their economic knowledge.

From tried-and-true concepts like scarcity to moral dilemmas like tragedy of the commons, the FTE covers an enormous amount of information with about a dozen resources.

Along the way, students will learn how to think economically, how to identify markets, what “inflation” really means, and even a little bit of personal finance.

You can use these lessons verbatim in your classroom, if you teach through lecture.

If you want to use interactive strategies, you can also:

  • Use each lesson’s key terms as flash cards
  • Roleplay scenarios involving consumers, banks, and the federal reserve
  • Have students create a fiscal or banking policy for the class

These are all excellent lessons and methods to use to build a foundational understanding of economics with your high school students.

But it’s still just one example.

What if you want lesson ideas straight from the horse’s mouth?

2. High School Economics Lessons (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)

02-federal-reserve-bank-atlantaThe Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (FRBA) is surprisingly invested in the education of high school students in the United States.

They provide six lesson plans that pertain to “Basic Economic Concepts” that you can use in varying grade levels to teach economics.

Each lesson is also dated with the time it was last updated. The lessons go as far back as Fall 2011, and one is as recent as Fall 2018.

Interestingly, these lesson plans follow the trend that many teachers see in economic education today — namely, the blending of economics and career readiness.

That’s the crux of the lesson plan entitled Dream Today, Job Tomorrow.

But the FRBA also uses lesson plans to explore concepts about economics in popular non-fiction. It even goes so far as to have students read blogs that deal with economics online!

Beyond the basic concepts, the FRBA has more than a dozen lesson plans dealing with topics such as:

  • International economics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Personal finance

Their library of personal finance lesson plans is especially robust, and it gives you a lot of ways to tie major economic concepts into students’ personal lives.

Altogether, you have a ton of teaching strategies at your disposal for all of these lessons, including:

These are just four of your options, but the sky is the limit with what the FRBA provides!

Still, these lessons may not be up to your state or school standards.

So what can you do if you want the reliability of a federal reserve bank, but the resources from Atlanta just don’t work for you? 

3. Lesson Plans for Teachers (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

03-federal-reserve-bank-philadelphiaMuch like the Atlanta branch, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia (FRBP) has a database of free lesson plans that are perfect for high school students.

The FRBP organizes all of its lessons by grade level, so you can rest assured that each of these  lesson plans is at the proper learning level of your students.

In total there are 10 high school lessons that cover topics concerning paper money, centralized banking, the characteristics of money, and personal budgeting.

Again, the FRBP makes it possible for you to take high-level economic concepts and apply them to students’ personal lives — right down to their wallets!

There’s one little surprise that could make these lesson plans a bit tricky for you.

As a result, you may have to tweak some of the information or pacing in these lessons to suit your class — especially if you teach freshmen.

Altogether, the FRBP has some great ideas and opportunities for you to pursue.

You can teach each of these lesson plans in a variety of methods, including: 

  • Lecture
  • Handouts
  • Group work
  • Homework

With that, the FRBP has you covered from just about every angle when it comes to teaching the lessons they provide.

But hey — at the end of the day, you’re still using teaching resources from a federal entity.

What if you want something written by a peer or colleague?

4. High School Economic Systems Bundle (Teachers Pay Teachers)

04-teachers-pay-teachersTeachers Pay Teachers (TpT) is an online marketplace where teachers can share and sell their most successful lesson plans.

Some teachers — like Ready Set Learn Social Science — bundle these lesson plans into packages and / or digital downloads.

These lessons are verified to be some of the best in economics on TpT.


Because they’re so good that other teachers pay to have them!

The cost may be a barrier to entry for many teachers, especially if you want to avoid paying out of pocket.

But if you have the extra cash — $12 in this case — you can get full-fledged lesson plans, guided notes, group study review notes, study guide keys, and even an assessment!

With all of this from a trusted source in education, the sky is the limit for teaching the basics of economics.  

There’s still one little catch with TpT, though.

You’re getting a digital purchase, sure. But at the end of the day, you’ll have to print out worksheets and follow up with pen-and-paper grading.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a computer do all of that grunt work so you could focus on teaching your students?


5. Economics Module (Business&ITCenter21)

bit21-logo-blueBusiness&ITCenter21 is a digital curriculum that helps business teachers do their jobs even better!

It comes with a full library of different “modules,” all of which contain a variety of digital or analog lesson plans.

That includes economics!

The lessons in the Business&ITCenter21 Economics module dive deep into microeconomics, macroeconomics, economic systems, productivity, and more. They’ll even learn a little about how businesses function, the decision of prices, and markets.

Along the way, you’ll get built-in assessments that gauge your students’ understandings of what the economy is and how it functions.

With automatic grading and customizable assessments, it’s never been easier to engage your students with activities that help them learn.

Best of all, you leave all of that pen-and-paper work in the past!

Overall, Business&ITCenter21 is most successful when used with teaching strategies like:

  • Blended learning
  • Online learning
  • Distance learning
  • Lecture

You can teach economics in just about any way you’d like with Business&ITCenter21. When you want to introduce your students to economics and its inner-workings, this is your solution!

So how can you start?

Teach High School Economics Today

Are you ready to take your classroom to the next level?

Hundreds of teachers already have!

Check out the Economics module and what it has in store for your classroom! 

Look through the Economics Module >


About Chris Zook

Chris Zook is a contributing author to the AES blog. He enjoys everything about online marketing, data science, user experience, and corgis.