GDP Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Open the conversation about gross domestic product (GDP)! Work through understanding GDP and then calculate real GDP and real GDP per capita. A group activity deepens understanding and optional supplementary activities and related lessons are included for further study.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • compare and contrast nominal gross product, real gross domestic product, and real gross domestic product per capita
  • calculate gross domestic product
  • analyze the factors involved in gross domestic product


1 hour

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.7: Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

Key Vocabulary

  • Nominal gross product
  • Real gross domestic product (real GDP)
  • Real GDP per capita


Preparing for Instruction

  • Begin by dividing students into 4 groups. Each group will represent a country.
  • Explain to each group that they are a country. They must name their country and decide on one product that their country will produce.
  • Once the groups have decided on a name and product, visit each group to assign a set price for their product along with the quantity that they will be producing each year.
  • Write the key vocabulary terms on the board.
  • Tell students that they should pay close attention to the key vocabulary terms that are written on the board as they view the video lessons.

Video Assisted Instruction and Activities

Nominal GDP

  • Now play the video lesson Gross Domestic Product: How to Calculate Real GDP, pausing at 5:31. Students should get a good overview of what the difference is between nominal and real GDP and have the tools to calculate nominal GDP.
  • With the video paused, have students work in their groups to figure the nominal gross product for their countries.

Real GDP

  • Now play the remainder of the video lesson, starting from where you left off at 5:31 and the lesson changes to calculating real GDP.
  • When the video lesson is complete, ask the groups to calculate the real GDP for their countries and share their figures with the the other groups for critique. Then have them figure the real gross domestic product based on the idea that they are currently in the second year of production and seeing a 20% increase since the first year.
  • When each group has calculated both figures, ask them to share their calculations with the other groups. Does everyone agree with their figures? If not, why?

Real GDP per Capita

  • Next, play the video lesson How Real GDP per Capita Affects the Standard of Living, pausing at 3:59. This should give students background information and the procedure for calculating GDP per capita.
  • Ask students to figure the the real GDP per capita for their countries. Which country has the highest real GDP per capita? What are the factors that influence this finding? Have a brief discussion.
  • Play the remainder of the video lesson. This helps to explain the importance and drivers of standards of living.

Research, Application, and Analysis

  • Now have students research the the GDPs of five countries throughout the world. How do they compare? What factors can they identify that influence these figures? Emphasize the importance of the standards of living and factors that affect these standards.


  • Ask students to research the recession of 2008. How did the savings rate, population, and productivity change in this time period? Could this recession have been prevented?
  • Have students research the GDPs of third-world countries. What could be done to increase the GDPs of these countries based on the factors students now know about?

Related Lessons

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