Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Simply Put: A Study in Economics (A Review & Double Giveaway)

Simply Put Study Economics giveaway review
Simply Put: A Study of Economics by Catherine Jaime is a homeschool economics curriculum for high school students.  Concepts of economics are presented in a format that is easy for the non-economist-minded to understand.   It is meant to be used as a one semester/half credit program for high school students, but is suitable for even middle school students to gain an understanding of American economics.

New Jersey has a one-semester "Financial, Economic, Business, and Entrepeneurial Literacy" requirement for a student to receive a high school diploma.  I admit, I wasn't exactly sure how to teach Luke this one...I was the arts major (my BA is in theater!), and while Neal earned a degree in Business Administration and manages our family's farm package supply business, I'm not sure that either of us was equipped to teach a high schooler a qualifying amount of economics.  I am the first to admit that most of it is not my cup of tea, and Neal's reality running the business has little to do with the textbook learning he received.  (He started working in his family's businesses when he was still in high school; I'd ask him what his class was about and he'd patiently explain to me the difference between economic class theory of supply/demand/pricing and the reality of the New Jersey agricultural industry.)  I was very happy for the opportunity to try this program out.  I figured between us, we would be able to help Luke if he hit any snags.

Author Catherine Jaime is a MIT-educated economics teacher.  A homeschooling mother and co-op instructor, she has taught kindergarten through twelfth grade, concentrating on high school economics and government. She has authored a number of history books and several booklets dealing with government and/or economics, so this is not a new subject to her.  This program was born out of necessity.  In her own words:

Economics gets a bad rap among so many, and yet as a long-time student and teacher of economics, I often wonder why. Maybe it’s because most economic textbooks are so boring. In fact, I started this book after I looked unsuccessfully for an economics textbook that I could recommend for high schoolers. I found few options that didn’t put me to sleep – and I like the topic!

Her experience with high school  education is evident. Each chapter of Simply Put averages two to three pages - enough to give details about a concept, but not bog the student down in minutiae.  Her experience as an economist is just as obvious - she discusses tenets that are crucial underpinnings of an understanding of economics. 

As I was writing this review, I asked Luke to make a synopsis of the first six chapters - two or three sentences for each - so that you could get an idea of the beginning of the program.  I wanted to "hear" in his words what he had learned from each:
     Lesson one teaches about macroeconomics and microeconomics. Macroeconomics is the branch of economics dealing with the performance, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole body, rather than individual markets. Microeconomics is the branch of economics that studies the behavior of individual households and firms in making decisions based on limited resources.

      As written in lesson two, many factors affect price. Two such factors include supply and demand for the retail price of a good, and time and quality for worker’s wage.  Price increases depend on quality of and demand for a product; inferior products command lower prices because less people are willing to pay the price asked. 

      Lesson three talked about how a good/service is started by or made better through entrepreneurs. Examples of entrepreneurs include Steve Jobs and his contribution of the portable pocket-sized computer, and Henry Ford with his contribution of the automobile.

     Lesson four talked about wants versus needs. Needs are what is necessary for survival. Wants are what we would either prefer to have that is not necessary for survival, or what product we would prefer to get to simplify a need.

     Lesson five imparted that supply and price is not always fixed. It is dependent on the resources available, and the labor put into delivering the necessary materials or producing the product.

    Lesson six instructed the relationship of economics and our Constitution. Such references are included in the preamble, as it states that we ensure domestic tranquility, and the regulation of commerce at the federal (and state by default) level(s) is stated several times throughout other articles.
 We are about a quarter of the way through the program (some weeks we have done two lessons) and I am really impressed with how much he has learned - and more importantly, retained. I am like how Jaime starts with the basics like supply and demand  and delves (at least briefly so far) into the powers set up in the Constitution.  Unfortunately, I think we are rapidly becoming a country of sound bites.   It's becoming easier to believe a 45-second news story (presented from any political point of view) than to really dig in and figure out the (currently abysmal state of the) American economy.  I think it's crucial to have an understanding of economic basics.  I see and hear a lot of people bemoaning the current state of the American economy, and expecting "somebody else" to fix it, but not understanding why they can't -- it's not as simple as it would seem.
While each section is short, it is very easy to spend a long time exploring the topics.  For example, Luke and I spent two hours discussing supply and demand, and the variables that affect it.  We also spent another morning discussing Constitutional powers.  Luke is a very mathematically-inclined thinker; by setting up visual equations he could see how everything from a private industry producers' costs to government spending was interrelated.  If you only had a single semester's time to complete this program, you would certainly end with a strong foundational understanding of economics.  However, if you have a student with a growing interest in economics, this program provides a wonderful framework to then further explore economic concepts and principles.

There is also a Simply Put Teacher’s Key available.  At 34 pages, this almost mini-textbook provides support for the teaching parent (again, in lingo that the average, non-economist person can understand), as well as the answer key for the mid-term and final exams included in the student book.  There are two classroom activities that work well in helping students grasp important economic concepts that adapt reasonably well to a single homeschool student. Can I just say how much I love having this provided for me?  I'm happy to read along with Luke and learn what I can, but I already have a high school diploma.  I probably could have used this course back when I was in high school (econ wasn't a requirement back then), but I really would prefer to support Luke as he learns, not take the final myself.  (Of course, it's kinda nice to have it as a self-test to see how much has sunk in...)

Luke has been about doing a lesson each week, which means we will take more than one "semester" to make it through the book.  (There are 36 lessons in the program.)  He said that economics was a one semester senior-year class when he was in school, so he's not concerned about it taking longer for him to work through -- since he's only a sophomore, he's got "plenty" of time!   If we needed to pick up the pace to finish in a shorter amount of time, he thinks making it an 18- or even 13-week course with two or three lessons each week would be challenging yet not overwhelming. Working at full-year pace, this program could be suitable for a junior high student as well.

Simply Put: A Study in Economics is available from CurrClick as as PDF download.  Normally $16.00, the program is currently on sale for $6.99. Currclick's price includes the Student Book and Teacher Key, both in PDF format.   Amazon.com also offers the program in both paperback ($17.55 Student Book, $4.68 Teacher Key) and Kindle ($6.99 Student Book, $0.99 Teacher Key) forms.

This is a program that we are very happy to have tried, and will see out to the end, giving Luke his required credit.  We would love to share a copy with all of you!  The author has graciously given us a digital copy of both the student's and teacher's books to give away.  Enter below for your chance to win a copy of the Simply Put: A Study in Economics program (value $6.99).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Plus, how would you like to win an entire digital library of Catherine Jaime books and a 3 month subscription to A+ Tutorsoft?  I thought you would.

The total retail value for this giveaway is $325+!  Your digital library will include:

Learning As We Go: Teaching Through Travels ($6)
Finding Fun and Facts in D.C. [BUNDLE] ($1.60)
Christ, Our Passover Lamb Set [BUNDLE] ($1.60)
CHRISTmas Fun [BUNDLE] ($5.50)
Giving Thanks [BUNDLE] ($2.75)
Reformation/Martin Luther Set [bundle] ($2.25)
Creation Tools [bundle] ($1.95)
Leonardo da Vinci Topical Study ($10.25)
Games From Around the World ($.99)
Animals, Animals, and more Animals [bundle] ($11.49)
They Proceeded On: The Lewis & Clark Expedition [BUNDLE] ($12.99)
A Celebration of Black History: Teaching through Timelines, Lapbooks, Mini Units ($12.99)
The Americans Revolt ($7.75)
Presidents Topical Study ($16)
Lapbooking Through American Government ($8.50)
Lapbooking Across Our Wonderful World ($9.50)
U.S. Political Set [bundle] ($31.96)
U.S. Constitution Topical Study ($28)
Understanding Economics [bundle] ($11.98)
Homeschooling Helps from Veteran Mom of 12 [bundle] ($18.25)
Lapbooking Through American History ($8)
Horsey and Friends Travel Series [bundle] ($10.50)
Panama – Land Between the Seas [BUNDLE] ($6)
Sharing Shakespeare Super Pack [bundle] ($24.25)
Astronomy Facts & Fun: A Topical Study ($15)
Flags of the World ($5.75)
In Art Series [bundle] ($2.60)
A Brief History of the English Bible ($5)

Are you ready to enter?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. Can you invent something that would completely clean up the kitchen (dishes, mopping, wiping down the table, putting leftovers in the fridge, etc)?

  2. My highschooler would really benefit from this curriculum.

  3. I would want my invention to clean the bathroom!

  4. Meg @ Adventures with JudeNovember 28, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    I have four boys...I'm right there with you!

  5. Meg @ Adventures with JudeNovember 28, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    That sounds like a plan! I think it should also keep track of the leftovers so you know when to have Buffet Night.

  6. if I had some kind of robot that could save me from having to prepare meals, I would be SO happy. I do not like to cook. I'll even clean up afterwards - or have my kids do it - if only I didn't have to figure out what to make for dinner and get it all ready and on the table at the same time!

  7. Okay, I just bought this. :-) Thanks for the helpful review! I'm planning to use this for my high schooler next year. Or maybe even next semester, depending on what I think once it's in my hands.


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