Teachers show the right stuff to win Lesson Plan of the Year Contest

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Teachers show the right stuff to win Lesson Plan of the Year Contest

Photo of a teacher with an appleWinning has become a habit for some of the winners of the Atlanta Fed's 2009–10 Lesson Plan of the Year contest. Three of this year's five winners have won the contest in previous years. Winners for 2010 were announced and recognized at an awards ceremony at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on April 22.

The 2010 winners are Keith Astuto of South Miami Senior High School in Miami, Fla., first place; Kerry Giordano of Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg, Fla., second place; Greg Glandon of Morristown East High School in Morristown, Tenn., third place; and Elfi Funk of Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga., and Maxine Casey of Monroe County Career Technical Center in Monroeville, Ala., honorable mentions.

Astuto and Glandon were first and third place winners, respectively, in the 2008–09 contest, and Casey won third place in the 2007–08 contest.

Photo of the 2010 Lesson Plan of the Year winners
Left to right: Keith Astuto, Kerry Giordano, Greg Glandon, and Elfi Funk; not pictured: Maxine Casey

Winners find rewards—and challenges
The annual contest calls for middle and high school educators to develop lesson plans featuring Federal Reserve publications, Web sites, or multimedia materials (see the related link). The competition is designed to introduce educators to Federal Reserve materials and encourage them to consider how these resources can be used to teach students about the Federal Reserve, economics, and personal finance.

"The contest has helped me see firsthand the work of the Fed so I can relate that to my students," says Greg Glandon. "Now that I have participated twice, I see the value of … [helping] other teachers understand the excellent materials the Fed has and how they can use them."

Keith Astuto agrees. Entering the contest, he said "was a great excuse to go through the materials made available by the Federal Reserve to see what I could use for my classes." The greatest reward of winning, said the two-time winner, is the affirmation that he's doing high-quality work and being able to show his superiors the endorsement of a respected institution like the Federal Reserve.

Kerry Giordano found that the biggest challenge in creating a lesson plan was "find[ing] ways to engage students in ways that create a lifelong learning desire. The graphic novels produced by the Fed were a great way to reach my students on their level." But the payoff was worth the effort for Giordano. "The Federal Reserve education program and lesson plan contest is the pinnacle of economics education," she said, "so being chosen as an awardee is a professional milestone for me."

Besides winning "the savings bonds, of course," Maxine Casey said the biggest rewards of winning were "the high scores of my students on the Financial Literacy Challenge as a result of teaching them financial literacy components in my lessons."

Determining the winners
Winners were chosen by a panel of independent educational consultants, who evaluated entries on numerous criteria, including use of Federal Reserve materials and relevance to national standards.

The finalists announced at the Atlanta ceremony each represent the winning entry from a geographic area served by one of the Atlanta Fed's six offices—Atlanta, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville, and New Orleans. The regional winners each received a $1,000 savings bond and then were ranked against each other for the top prize. At the Atlanta ceremony, the overall first-place winner received a $1,500 savings bond; the second-place winner, a $1,000 savings bond; the third-place winner, a $750 savings bond; and each honorable mention winner, a $250 savings bond.

Winning lesson plans
Astuto's first-place lesson, "The Bank of Good Habits," teaches middle and high school students to practice good financial habits during the lesson and throughout the school year. Students explore the concepts of saving and investing, tracking and budgeting their expenses, and real-life demonstrations of the importance of financial responsibility and participate in investment and banking/budgeting simulations. The lesson uses the Building Wealth interactive presentation and the Katrina's Classroom curriculum and video.

Giordano's second-place entry, "Learning Economics through Comics," is a four-part lesson designed to help middle school students understand the basics of modern economic systems while promoting good reading comprehension strategies. Using four different Federal Reserve comic books—The Story of Money, The Story of Inflation, The Story of Banks, and Once Upon a Dime—the lesson requires students to complete a different active reading assignment for each book and thus find the learning strategy that is best for their learning style.

"You Can Bank on It," Glandon's third-place lesson, allows high school students to explore the types of accounts, functions, and services offered by financial institutions. Using the Banking Basics brochure from the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and The Story of Banks comic book, the lesson is built on teaching strategies that rely on deep mental processing of information, including word search puzzles, discussion questions, and a repetition of recall activities.

"Money Supply—Who Decides What, Why, When, and Where?" Funk's honorable mention entry, teaches high school seniors to assess the health of the national and state economies and educates them about the Federal Reserve's use of monetary policy tools to regulate and control the economy and thus foster low unemployment and low inflation. Students participate in simulations of a Federal Reserve Bank board meeting and a Federal Open Market Committee meeting and then compare their recommendations for using monetary policy tools with those actually implemented by the Federal Reserve during times of economic stress.

Casey's honorable mention lesson, "Saving for the Future," allows high school students to explore various options for saving, explains the advantages of saving, and discusses the problems incurred when society as a whole does not save. The lesson uses the Federal Reserve publications A Penny Saved and Building Wealth as well as information about interest rates at FederalReserveEducation.org and other sites.

The winning lesson plans will be posted on this Web site at a later date.

April 29, 2010