USF Web Quest


Teacher's page


Unit Summary Teacher's Resources Day 1 Lesson
Day 2 Lesson Day 3 Lesson Day 4 Lesson
Day 5 Lesson Day 6 Assessment Student Web Quest

Topic: Economic Geography

Author: James Wilson

Grade Level: 7th

Date: April 21, 2007

Dear Colleague,

    This unit is designed to be an introduction into economic systems. Instead of going into complex detail about each system, this unit touches on other things such as levels of economic activities, natural resources, economic support systems, and measuring GDP/GNP.  This unit also contains a Web Quest and Power Point that assists in instruction in a way different than a traditional lecture.

Unit Summary

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Big Idea(s): Hands on experiences are the best way for me to learn something and I believe that it is the same for most students. If they can tough and feel what they're learning then they're more likely to remember it and promote desire to learn more. If the students are to desire to learn they have to have this questioned answered, "what do I need to know about economics for?" I remember taking math courses where the students would ask the same thing with no answer from the teacher beyond "you just do." Students should know how and why the US does well in world economics and their own roles within the American economy. Not only should they gain an appreciation of their status in the world but also sympathy for others who aren't doing so well and why. There is also the issue of natural resources which is relevant to the US at any time. Students need to know what issues we face as a nation and the reasons for raising prices at the gas pump. Beyond just knowing the terms of the unit, the students will know how important they are to an economy.


    NCSS: People, places, and environment. Production, Distribution, and Consumption

    SSS:    Standard 1- Student understands how scarcity requires individuals and institutions to make choices about how to use resources.

               Standard 2- Student understands the characteristics of different economic systems and institutions.

Days: 6

Content: Define economy, the types of economic systems, traditional, command, market, and mixed. The four levels of economic activity, that the are, what levels are other countries on, how one level plays on top of the other. Define natural resources, renewable, non-renewable, inexhaustible and the importance of scarcity on decisions about limited resources. Define infrastructure, highways, telephone lines, fiber optics, ports, and education for use of technology. Define GDP, GNP, per-capita income. Tie together all the previous days and show how they are related to each other.

Methods: See individual lessons.

Web Quest Summary


Big Idea: To get goods from the other side of the world requires many types of infrastructure support systems for that to happen. Most people don’t realize how much work it really requires and takes things like this for granted. Students will learn what it takes to get a product that may only cost $.99 to the store shelves all the way from Taiwan to the store right down the road. The students will become a product and figure out a way to efficiently get from Taiwan all the way to their school. They will hopefully realize how complex our infrastructure system is and how much it has become a part of our lives. Remembering the Northeast Blackout in 2003 it became apparent that our nation could be crippled by the simple loss of electricity. Students should be aware of this as they will someday be responsible for fixing this problem.


Days: 1


Content: Infrastructure and its importance to our economy as well as others.


Methods: Online research, tracking and recording, reflection writing


Teacher Resources

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Background Resources

Web-based Subject Matter content

Web Pedagogy Content

Other Resources


Unit Lesson Sequence


Day 1: Economic Systems

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Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts


Introduction into unit

            Demonstration 1: Barter or traditional economy. Within each bag of pen parts is a number. The students must try to make that number of complete pens with the parts the already have. They are given 5 minutes to do so. None of the students will be able to make the number they are given and have extra of one or more pieces and not enough of another. With the remaining parts they must “barter” with the other students to get the correct number of parts to make their number of complete pens. Explain to the students what had just transpired.

            Demonstration 2: Command Economy. Have two students come to the front of the class and ask them to remove the spring and tip of their pens and explain to them that I (acting as central government) need to use the metal to build buildings. Explain to them that under a command economy, the central government determines which things are produced and where natural resources go.  The two students will have to make due with the lack of metal in their pens until I feel they are allowed to have any. Then I will go into further detail on the command economy with a quick lecture.

            Demonstration 3: The mixed economy. The pens will be of different colors and they will vary in rarity. The red colored pens being most rare, followed by the blue, and most common is the green pens. The goal for the students is to acquire 1 red pen, 2 blue pens and 3 green pens. They must use the money they received from the word find and sell their own pens to students for an amount of money they determine. After 5-10 minutes of the students engaging I will end the demonstration and ask the students what they though of the mixed economy. Ask how the rarity of red pens affected the prices they sold or bought it for. Then I will tax the students by asking for $20 from each of them to pay for my teaching.

Bag of various pen parts


Day 2: Economic Activities

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Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts



                Review the previous day and ask if students have any questions about what they have learned or don't understand. I'm going to use foldables in teaching this concept to the students. I will have the students make a 4 tab book or have them made before class. I will write down each of the four levels of economic activity on the board and have the students label each of the tabs accordingly. I will define what each level means and ask the students examples of jobs or things that fit into that category. I will request that the students think about what jobs fit into each category, then consult with their peers, and then share with the class.  After the foldable is complete I will share with the students various countries and their level of economic activity. Explain to the students how their education contributes for the ability of the US to be on the 4th level. Feedback lecture.

Paper for the folable


Day 3: Natural Resources

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Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts


Group activity and lecture

             Review the previous day and ask if students have any questions about what they have learned or don't understand. This day will be to explain the difference between renewable, non-renewable and inexhaustible resources. But it may not be enough for the students to know the difference, but to know the importance of natural resources. I will start by defining what natural resources are. I will explain how the concentration of natural resources causes some countries to prosper more than others by showing a map of natural resources in rich and poor countries. I will then explain to the students the definitions of the various resources. I will do this with the aid of a Power  Point Presentation.

            Students will participate in an open market project where they will build products from basic natural resources and buy and sell them among each other. Students will be grouped up into different regions around the world and be given a limited amount of "natural resources" as indicated on a real geologic map to construct things to be sold on the open market. With the natural resources students can produce a number of products. The products will require a specific number of "natural resources" to complete. Each group will have to complete a check list of products and have left over natural resources. Each group will also be given a set amount of money to assist in the buying and selling of products and resources. There will be X regions (2-3 students in a group) and each will be rich in two or more "natural resources." Each group will have to fulfill a checklist of products, natural resources and left over cash. Colored construction paper will symbolize a unit of each specific natural resource. Brown = lumber, gray = stone, black = coal, blue = clean water, white = iron, yellow = corn, etc... A list of products will be given with recipes on how many of each natural resource is needed. Students will compile the resources into a bundle to create the product. Students can buy and sell their natural resources or finished products either with the cash or bartering. It is up to the students to set the prices on anything they sell and this value doesn't need to be fixed. The goal of the student is to have everything on their checklist by the end of the class period. For homework the student will write a one page, double spaced report on their experience with the project and reflect on the pros and cons of the open market system.

Natural Resources Power Point

Colored construction paper


Day 4: Economic Support Systems

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Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts


Web Quest, RAFT

            Review the previous day and ask if students have any questions about what they have learned or don't understand. I want to compare and contrast the US infrastructure to that of poorer countries such as Honduras or richer ones like Japan. I want to use maps showing the highway system and pictures showing the power grid of other countries. I will explain to them how reliable or unreliable other country’s infrastructures are compared to the US. I will ask the students why our infrastructure is so strong and hint that it has to do with our mixed economy. Students will read the “Northeast Blackout of 2003” article from Wikipedia as a print out. They will focus on the section “Affected Infrastructure” and then write a letter to Charlie Christ as a concerned citizen about the effects of a blackout in Florida.

            Directions: After reading the "Northeast Blackout of 2003," focus on the section Affected Infrastructure. Your role will be of a concerned citizen of Florida writing to your audience, Charlie Christ, concerning the effects of a similar blackout in Florida. Your topic will be what things can the governor do to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring in Florida. Remember to apply what you learned from the mistakes made that were revealed in the Northeast article.

            The students will participate in a teacher created web quest about infrastructure that I will personally design (the lack of desirable web quests forces me to make my own). The purpose of the Web quest will for students to understand how a product gets its way from Taiwan to their home in the US. Which infrastructures were used during the adventure?

Maps; Web Quest,

Northeast Blackout Article


Day 5: Measuring Economic Development

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Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts


Venn Diagram

Review the previous day and ask if students have any questions about what they have learned or don't understand. Through the use of a Venn diagram students will be able to see the relationship between GDP and GNP. They are very similar in most aspects but represent very different things. This is confusing for most college students (as it was in my Macro Economics Course) and needs to be watched very closely for the middle school student. One map will be for GDP and show all the economic factors that contribute to this number and the same for GNP. The factors include anything produced by a country during any period of time, usually a year, and involve everything discussed in the previous days.




Day 6: Assessment

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Content/Key Ideas/Concepts/Facts



Have the students take a scenario test which makes the students critically think about how they would run their own country. They must choose a type of economy to use and why they are choosing to use it and an explanation on why they aren't using the other types. They must be able to classify the resources within their country as renewable, non-renewable, and inexhaustible. They need to explain how they plan to divide their resources among their infrastructure and production. Students will need to develop some sort of infrastructure and explain the importance of each type. They need to indicate how to derive their countries GDP and GNP and how to reach a per capita income.



After this unit plan is complete Students should have fulfilled the NCSS standards including understanding how scarcity requires individuals and institutions to make choices about how to use resources and the characteristics of different economic systems and institutions.


References are included in the content area of each lesson and contained in the back ground resources of the teacher's page.