Extra Credit (Fall 2005)

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Economically Speaking

Federal Reserve and USA TODAY partner on education project

In July 2005 the Federal Reserve and USA TODAY launched a hands-on project-based learning activity designed to teach middle school and high school students about economics, personal finance, and the Federal Reserve System. The activity spurs students’ creativity by challenging them to develop a front page for Fed Today, a fictional newspaper “published” by the central bank.

The four-week project provides students with detailed instructions. Students will access the Fed’s colorful, newly redesigned education Web site, FederalReserveEducation.org, to research information for the project. Each week, students must find, read, comprehend, and synthesize information and then create and produce the stories, headlines, photos, captions, graphs, and statistics needed to complete all twenty elements of the Fed Today front page.

Throughout the project, students will work in small groups, following a step-by-step guide. Ideally, each group will include a strong reader, an able mathematician, and an artist.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, serve as the focus for the cross-disciplinary activity. Students apply subject matter, concepts, and skills from

Topics explored during the four-week project include

  • the history and structure of the Fed,
  • the Fed’s role in formulating monetary policy and how its actions influence consumer interest rates,
  • the Fed’s use of statistical data for economic forecasting, and
  • the Fed’s personal financial education resources.

The project helps teachers meet national and state academic content standards for high school economics and personal finance courses. In addition to the section on content standards, the teachers’ guide includes a pretest and complete instructions on how to deliver the lessons. The students’ package contains everything they need to get started, including the front page template. Both the teacher and student packages can be found on USA TODAY’s K-12 Education Online Web page.

By Jess Palazzolo, public information director, Atlanta Fed