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Economic Systems & Global Trade Overview Activities for High School

Instructor: Clio Stearns
Teaching students about economic systems and global trade will help them follow current events more analytically. This lesson offers some concrete activities you can use to teach these themes at the high school level.

Teaching Economic Systems and Trade

As a high school social studies teacher, you probably spend a great deal of time focusing on history, government, and geography. However, teaching economics is also an important facet of social studies curriculum and instruction.

One part of learning more about economic systems is learning how different countries interact with each other on a marketplace level. Teaching your students about how economic systems and global trade work will help them understand globalization, different perspectives on economics, and the nuances in current events impacted by economics.

The activities in this lesson are oriented toward keeping students engaged and motivated as they learn about economic systems and global trade.

Historical Activities

This section provides activities that orient students toward taking a historical view on economic systems and global trade.

Globalism Timeline

This is a visually oriented activity that students can conduct with partners or in small groups. Ask each pair to create a timeline in chronological order. Each timeline should include five to ten major events or movements from world history that relate to the globalization of the economy.

For each item that students put on their timelines, they should include a small image or graphic that represents the event or occurrence. Then, let students share their timelines and compare and contrast the different histories they collectively represent.

Regional Histories, Global Histories

For this activity, students should also work in partners or small groups. Assign each group a different region of the world to focus on. Students should research the economic history of that region. Then, they should create a poster or graphic that represents the history they have learned.

Bring students together to present these different regional histories. Once everyone has presented, segue into a discussion of how the different regions they showcased have historically intersected with each other on an economic and a trade level.

Philosophical Activities

Here, you will find activities that get students thinking about the major theories and philosophies underlying economic systems and global trade.

Model of a System

Have students work with partners for this activity. Each pair should focus on a specific economic system, such as capitalism or communism. They should create a tactile model using clay or recycled materials, representing a key facet of the system they are researching.

For instance, a model for capitalism might represent a marketplace, an advertisement, or an economic hierarchy. When students share their representations, they should discuss what each system offers philosophically and how they have historically intersected with each other on a global trade level.

Pros and Cons

This is an activity students can do independently or with partners. Ask them to begin by creating a two-column graphic organizer. On the left side, they should list at least five advantages of a global trade system and increasingly global economy. On the right side, they should list the disadvantages.

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