Unit Plan:
Everything Is Economics
Mastering Economic Essentials

Economics / Grade 12

Big Ideas

Exploration, expansion, and colonization had varying consequences for different peoples.




  • Exploration
  • Colonization
  • First contact

Essential Questions

Students will keep considering…

  • How do conflicting ideas affect progress?
  • What makes one culture seem more appealing than another? 

Evaluative Criteria

Teacher Evaluative Criteria:
Geography extension/ mapping skills: Students create (3D model, online, or draw) the island, including natural resources found on it, geographic location in relation to other landmarks, location of settlement, etc.



> Students present one part of the project (oral debate OR written report)

> Written report is submitted in alternative form (drawing or mind map)

Develop rubrics to assess this project. Suggested evaluation branches: oral debate, policy proposal, realistic suggestions for compromise between two communities.

Quiz evaluation: can be open book and based on big ideas/ essential questions (synthesis) rather than fact-based recall.

Paragraph writing:
Scaffold assessment with feedback on thesis statements, paragraph outlines, practice arguments.

Possibilities for paragraph expansion:
> Peer review paragraphs
> Create rubric with students; have students self-assess

Possibilities for project expansion:
> Study culture of indigenous groups around the world (e.g. music, food, religious traditions, etc.)
> Have students create map of the world during age of exploration to show specific information. E.g. natural resources, migration patterns, languages, etc.

Project evaluation:
Develop rubric to assess research skills (quality of sources, bibliography), presentation skills, information found (accuracy, relevancy).

Monitoring Progress

Teacher will monitor progress:
Teachers can monitor progress through ongoing formative assessment including but not limited to:

> Note-taking (extracting big idea from text)

> Primary source analysis

> Group discussions

> Optional assignments: journal entries, etc

Potential Student Misunderstandings:






  • Pathways by Michael Cranny
  • Crossroads: A Meeting of Nations by Michael Cranny
  • Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
  • Raven Steals the Light by Bill Reid



How will teachers and their students reflect on and evaluate the completed project?

Constant feedback from students and dialogue after each activity outlined in the Learning Events will help to direct and adapt what is explored in the next activity. Self, peer and teacher evaluation of the Performance Task and its alignment with the essential questions.

Next time I teach this unit I would…

Allow students to select the short stories that link to Identity.

My students needed:


Potential Student Misunderstanding:

Stage 3 – Learning Plan




  • These learning events/activities are suggested activities only. 
  • In some cases the plans are not fully completed lesson plans. 
  • The teacher may choose some lessons/activities to span over several lessons. 
  • Teachers may add, revise and adapt these lessons based on the needs of their students, their personal preferences for resources, and the use of a variety of instructional techniques.

Learning events are enriched for students when teachers consider the “WHERE TO” acronym and guiding organizer by Wiggins and McTighe.

> Click here for more information on WHERETO


Where To

Where: Where are we going in this lesson
What is expected of my students during and after this lesson?
• Present the performance task to students early in the unit
• Post essential questions; students can generate their own questions as well
• Check for  misconceptions
How: How will I hook and hold student interest during this lesson? • Use a provocation as an entry point
• Present students with a mystery or challenge
Equip: How will I equip students for expected performances?
How will I make sure to teach the foundational skills so that they can understand and complete tasks?
• Access understandings and experience with solid instructional practices
• Consider strategies that work for divers e learners
• Incorporate literacy 44 strategies
Rethink and Revise: How will I help students reflect, rethink and revise their ideas, writing, and tasks? • Have students rethink the big idea
• Have students reflect on  their learning  to build understanding
Evaluate: How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning after each lesson/task?

Some ideas for self-evaluation include:

• Ticket out the door
• Rubrics and checklists
• Formative assessments and feedback

Tailor: How will I tailor learning to varied needs, interests and styles? (refer to the NVSD Adaptations Checklist). • Differentiate to your students with the product, the process and the content



How will I organize and sequence the learning in each lesson and transition to a new lesson? • Start with the end in mind
Please note that the order in which teachers present this to their students is not mandated to the order of the acronym.



The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • What is the value of money beyond its monetary worth?
  • Why do some societies choose one economic system over another for the economic well-being of their society?
  • How are our common everyday decisions closely interconnected with how society, the environment and the economy functions?
  • How do we determine what is valuable to us as individuals and a society?


Lesson 1 - There's Not Enough to Go Around

The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • How does scarcity and choice govern our economic decisions and the world around us?


There’s Not Enough to Go Around (Lesson 1)

Teachers will use Monopoly money and a limited resource (12 chocolate bars in a room of 30 students) to illustrate the effects of supply and demand.

Lesson Supplies:  one bundle of Monopoly money in all denominations, 12 chocolate bars (or 1 for every 2.5 kids in the class)

1. While this is a lesson on Supply and Demand, teachers should not pre-teach this economic concept.    Rather, allow students to generate their own Laws of Supply and Demand based on this activity at the end of the lesson.

2. The teacher plays two roles; she is initially the banker and later, the retailer.  As the banker, the teacher instructs all students to leave the room, form a line outside the door, wait 30 seconds, and then re-enter.  The teacher is sitting behind a ‘banker’s desk’ and now hands out small piles of money to each student as they file up to the desk, one by one (each pile of student money must contain a variety of bills reflecting a variety of pay for a variety of jobs.  Note that 2-4 piles should include more money than most receive / less money than most receive to make things interesting).

3. The teacher explains that a devastating mold disease has hit the global cocoa crop and cocoa to make chocolate is being severely rationed.   As desperate chocolate fanatics, students are to work with the money they have ‘earned’ to negotiate the best price for a chocolate bar and secure one before others outbid them and they lose the opportunity to purchase.  (A)

4. Switching into Retailer-mode, the teacher now declares “The store is open!”  and ‘sells’ the first chocolate bar for a very low price to the first hand up or the loudest voice. In Monopoly money, this is $50. Expect a high-energy reaction here – there will be a buying frenzy. (A)

5. Continue to sell chocolate bars at a leisurely pace, being careful to raise the price with each bar and giving students time to observe the financial behavior of other students and time to consider their own buying options.  Continue to sell bars until there are only 1-2 left and when most students will not or cannot make a purchase.  (M)

6. At this point, demand an exorbitant price for the last 1-2 bars.  Refuse to sell for anything less and allow students to express their frustration but do not budge.  At this point, students will often suggest to each other that they combine money or boycott the process.  If they do not, the teacher can subtly encourage a boycott / combining of student money by expressing mock horror at the suggestion that students would even consider such an action. (M)

7. If students boycott the high-priced produce, eventually grumble as the Retailer and lower the price of the last 1-2 bars to sell out.  If students choose to combine money and pay the exorbitant price, congratulate them and hand over the last bar or two to sell out.  (M)

8. Instruct all students to now compose an email to a close friend revealing their 5 secret pieces of advice that explain how to secure one of the few chocolate bars at the best price.  They are to pay special attention to consumer behavior that others might not initially think about that often works in the marketplace. (M)

9. Finally, thoroughly debrief the economic decisions, actions, and feelings that come out of this experiment and conclude by having students generate the Laws of Supply and Demand with the teacher adding / correcting for accuracy. (T)

Lessons 2 - It's Hard to See the Other Side

The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • How are our common everyday decisions closely interconnected with how society, the environment, and the economy function?


It’s Hard to See the Other Side (Lessons 2)

Students will take an active role in a simulation game of ‘a local community of stakeholders’ fighting for a limited resource.

1. Begin class with a general discussion of what sort of housing students hope to live in one day, where they plan to live, and how they plan to pay for it.  Encourage creative thinking and explore the nature of economic risk in your discussion. (A)

2. Next, explain to the students that each will take the side of one of four interested parties in a housing issue — the Municipality, Developers, Small Business Owners, and Perspective Home Buyers.  (A)

3. Set the parameters of a current local housing issue to be debated between the four groups of stakeholders.  Example:  There is only 50 acres of land left for development in the town centre of a local municipality.  The local government has won on a mandate to introduce affordable housing into a community that has limited and expensive land to spare for new- builds.  (A)

4. Students are given time to research and prepare a team position paper to support their own stakeholder interests in a class debate incorporating all four sides of the issue.  Ideally, a local elected official will attend the debate. (M) (T)

5. Teachers will follow up the debate with a student discussion leading to the development of a class summary statement synthesizing the results from different assessment points-of-view and ideally, presenting a recommendation to a sitting local Municipal Council member. (M) (T)

Lessons 3 - Is Free Trade Free?

The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • How do we determine what is valuable to us as individuals and as a society?


Is Free Trade Free? (Lesson 3)

Teachers will use dollar-store items (or other treats that can be hidden in a paper bag) to explore the reasoning behind free trade and economic sacrifice for economic satisfaction (* Refer to Fraser Institute in Resources for original source).

1. Ask students to come to the front of the room to collect a brown paper bag with a single item in it (the teacher has put a variety of dollar store items in the bags that can be used over again in following years).  (A)

2. Next, ask students to mentally assign a ‘satisfaction score’ between 1-5 for their item without removing the item from their bag.  1 = you don’t like it at all and 5 = you’re very happy with it. (M)

3. To summarize the satisfaction during Round One, the teacher will quickly ask students to call out their satisfaction score one at a time, keeping track of scores on the board and then quickly adding up the value points of the entire class at the end of each round. (M)

4. In Round Two, teachers instruct students to carefully show their item to just one person sitting beside them or in front of them, trying not to remove the item from the bag so that no one can see it. (M)

5. Limited Trade now can take place during Round Two.  If both students wish to trade items, they may do so.  If only one wants to trade or neither wants to trade, then there’s no trade. (M)

6. Repeat Step 3 now, asking students to assign a new value to their item regardless of whether they’ve made a trade or not.  Again, the teacher will ask for satisifaction scores on a scale of 1-5 and add up the total score.  [The score will almost always climb as trade tends to bring people more of what they want.] (M)

7. Round Three is the final and fun Free Trade stage.  It’s high energy.  Ask all students to hold up their object so everyone in class can see what’s ‘up for trade’.  Take a few minutes to remark on the variety of dollar store objects and react to them as a class:  “Wow – I love your ant trap!”  or “Now that’s the kind of peel-off tattoo I wish I had!”  In Round Three, encourage (but don’t insist upon) trade with absolutely anyone in class.  Students will need to move around the room at this stage and this will take a few minutes to fully allow kids to haggle and bargain. (M)

8. Once trade seems to be finished, the teacher will again take a final tally of the overall satisfaction rating of each student for their object.  Again, the satisfaction score will almost always rise as Free Trade brings more of what people want to more people.  (M)

9. Debrief the class results and ask about motivation, decisions, and engagement in the trade simulation. Finally, as a class, generate a chart of the advantages and disadvantages of Free Trade.  (M) (T)

10. Extend the discussion to identify conflicting points of view about global trade through a social justice / cultural / political lens.  This activity can easily lead to an exploration of a current, defining political economic event (remain in the Euro zone or not, secede from Canada, renegotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, etc.) (T)

Lessons 4 - If Only My Parents Had Told Me About the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility

The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • How do we determine what is valuable to us as individuals and as a society?


If Only My Parents Had Told Me About the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility (Lesson 4)

This quick activity allows students to share in the moment when a good thing becomes too much of a good thing.

1. Ask students to quickly create a fun list of their “Top Ten Things That They Cannot Get Enough Of…”  In many cases, food will land on this list.  (A)

2. Next, students are to write a five- sentence homage to their love of an item on their list using as descriptive language as possible along the lines of “Why Nutella is the Love of My Life”.  Share some of these ‘love stories’ aloud.  (M)

3. The teacher will now ask for a student volunteer who claims to love jelly beans to come to the front of the room. (A)

4. Once the student is seated comfortably at the front, offer the student a few jelly beans and then pause, giving them a chance to enjoy the eating experience.  The teacher will then ask the student to give some feedback and a rating of their experience with / reaction to the taste of the jelly beans. (A) (M)

5. This pattern of the teacher offering a few jelly beans, taking a rating, and then further offering more of this good thing to the student continues at a steady pace until the student says they have had enough, is finally tired of the treat, and recognizes it’s time to say “no more”.  It is essential that the teacher keeps the health and safety of the student in mind during this demonstration.  This is not a speed-eating contest.   Do not allow the class to egg on the student to eat more than they wish to eat.  (M)

6. While the volunteer taste tester is enjoying jelly beans in between moments when the teacher is asking for happiness feedback, students will place a quick checkmark on an x/y Utility / Diminishing Marginal Utility chart to reflect their observations of the demonstrations.  These observations will be based on the Taster’s actions, facial expressions, comments, and pauses. (M) (T)

7. This too-much-of-a-good-thing exercise naturally leads into a lesson on The Laws of Diminishing Marginal Utility.  (M) (T)

8. Students will now share a personal anecdote with a neighbour, and then the class,  commenting on a moment in life when they realized that too much of a good thing is not good anymore.  (T)

9. Finally, students will write a one-page persuasive essay on the advantages and disadvantages of over-consuming in our society. (T)

Lessons 5 - Stanley Park Is for Sale

The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • What is the value of money beyond its monetary worth? 


Stanley Park Is for Sale (Lessons 5)

This lesson explores economic theories, such as The Tragedy of the Commons, and who should own Canada’s natural resources if we wish to maintain them for future generations.

 1. Stanley Park is for sale and two large parties are bidding for the land and all the buildings / parking revenue / activities and resources associated with it.  One of the potential purchasers is a Private Foundation.  The other represents the Public — the Government of Canada.  The two sides are asked to sit on opposite sides of the room. (A)
2. In this activity, students are deliberately not allowed to choose which side they will research and debate.  Instead, the teacher will quickly and randomly assign members to each group.  With no lead time to prepare, students are given 5 minutes to brainstorm social / political / environmental / economic reasons why they believe their side should own Stanley Park.  (A) (M)
3. After five minutes, the teacher opens the floor to debate and only evidence supported by example, experience, or facts can be introduced into this non-researched debate. (A) (M)
4. Next, the teacher explains to the class that he or she needs to add a new ‘wrinkle’ to the for-sale situation (see examples below).  Students now take a few minutes again to adjust their position to the new added ‘wrinkle’ and the off-the-cuff debate is continued for another few minutes as new information changes the ‘evidence’ and the ‘facts’. (A) (M)
5. Finally, the teacher will add yet another ‘wrinkle’.  With each new wrinkle, the decision to go public or private should be harder to make as extenuating circumstances and the complexity of economic decisions muddy the water, so to speak.  (A) (M)
6. Eventually, take a class poll about which side ‘wins’ and tie this win to student feeling about Canadian identity, patriotism, environmental stewardship, financial prosperity, trade, and legal precedents.  (M) (T)
Note:  Potential ‘wrinkles’ include
i)  tourism suddenly drops sharply and revenue starts to dry up
ii) profit is suddenly no longer shared with the City as was originally agreed
iii) park workers go on strike and won’t pick up park garbage
iv) trees are cut down to make more room for parking
v) protestors blockade the Vancouver Aquarium and media attention is ferocious
vi) developers demand to widen the causeway to facilitate faster movement of cars to the North Shore.

Lessons 6 - Order in the Court

The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • What does it mean to be an educated consumer?


Order in the Court (Lessons 6)

For every action there is a reaction, particularly in the economy.  Externalities are a frequent result of careless corporate behavior and the economic fallout reaches beyond the Board room with political, social, health, and environmental consequences.

1. Explain to students that half of them are assuming new jobs as lawyers at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.  Their aim is to indict a large, multinational Corporation due to its poor record of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  (A)

2. The other half of the class represents a member of the Board of a well-known, popular, real-life Corporation that has tremendous financial resources to fight prosecutors as every step of the court procedure.  (A)

3. The teacher will set up the classroom as a court room bench trial situation and ideally, the Law 12 class would be part of this role-playing activity. (A)

4. The lawyers are to research and formally present to the class their damning evidence of corporate malfeasance, being careful to focus on crimes involving people, the environment, and other economic Externalities.  (A) (M)

5. The Corporation’s Board Members will focus on their strengths – jobs provided, local economic stimulation, approval of local governments, beliefs that Externalities fall outside the purview of the Corporation. (A) (M)

6. Finally, as this is a bench trial, a teacher / visiting class will deliver a verdict and a sentence, detailing any reparations that need to be made.  (M) (T)

7. Follow up activities can include editorial writing where feelings about the final verdict are elaborated upon and published. (T)

Lessons 7 - Living in the Truman Show

The Learning Events should always be prefaced by focusing on the essential questions:

  • Why do some societies choose one economic system over another for the economic well-being of their society?


Living in the Truman Show (Lessons 7)

What type of economy brings the greatest levels of satisfaction to the greatest number of people?

1. This is a multi-class lesson that requires a teacher to prepare students to think by doing several entry activities.  To begin, have the students review the strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s Mixed Economy.  Next, extend the discussion to include other forms of economies such as Pure Capitalist, Pure Socialist, a Sustainable Economy, a Buddhist Economy, and an Anarchical Economy. (A)

2. Patterns should emerge from this review and brainstorming session.  In partnerships, have the students quickly map out – on 11 x 14 paper – mind-map style headings.  Examples might include “Currency”, “Forms of Ownership”, “Attitudes to Work”, “Attitudes to Leisure”, etc. (A) (M)

3. Now introduce the project by explaining that students will create their own imaginative economy from scratch, paying careful attention to a multitude of factors that must be considered for an interconnected economy ‘to work’.  Their resulting inventive economy might be largely realistic or largely fictional.  The key to emphasize is that the economy must function:  even in Science Fiction writing, people have jobs, require the basics to survive, interact with other peoples, require things, and have ways to deal with people and organizations who endanger the lives of others. (M) (T)

4. Next, set the time parameters.  Ideally one class will be devoted to generating group ideas. A second and third class will be needed to design a visual aspect of the assignment – possibly a map of a town, a set of commandments, a hierarchy of power, a list of resources for sale, etc. (M)

5. A third class will allow the class to polish a presentation and prepare answers to any questions the team anticipates will arise from their presentation re: the functioning of their new economy.  (M)

6. Ideally, the presentation will be a formal event.  Invitations will have gone out to an outside class (Social Studies classes would work well here) to be guest evaluators.  Desks can be arranged in tables and each group can be responsible for setting up water / a small snack for the guests.  Each group will then get 10 – 15 minutes to present their economy, using any means to make their delivery compelling (team flags / songs / political posters have worked well). (M)

7. During each presentation, other class members will actively fill out a T chart taking point form notes on the advantages / disadvantages of the economy being presented, in their opinion.  These will be submitted to the teacher at the end of the class. (A) (M)

8. The visiting class will privately take part in a discussion in their next block to hash out the strengths and weaknesses of all four economies presented and decide upon which economy they’d prefer to live in, had they a choice.  A vote will be taken by the visiting teacher and the majority will rule.  However, the teacher will take note of popular aspects of the non-chosen economies to highlight once the two classes reconvene the following class. (M) (T)

9. The two classes will come together again so that the visiting class can declare which economy “most satisfies their needs” and both teachers will expand the discussion based on comments and observations from all students. (T)

The following resources are made available through the British Columbia Ministry of Education. For more information, please visit BC’s New Curriculum.


Big Ideas

The Big Ideas consist of generalizations and principles and the key concepts important in an area of learning. The Big Ideas represent what students will understand at the completion of the curriculum for their grade. They are intended to endure beyond a single grade and contribute to future understanding.

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Core Competencies

orangecommunicationCommunications Competency

The set of abilities that students use to impart and exchange information, experiences and ideas, to explore the world around them, and to understand and effectively engage in the use of digital media

bluethinkingThinking Competency

The knowledge, skills and processes we associate with intellectual development

greensocialSocial Competency

The set of abilities that relate to students’ identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Curricular Competencies & Content

Curricular Competencies are the skills, strategies, and processes that students develop over time. They reflect the “Do” in the Know-Do-Understand model of curriculum. The Curricular Competencies are built on the thinking, communicating, and personal and social competencies relevant to disciplines that make up an area of learning.

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Additional Resources


First People's Principles of Learning

To read more about First People’s Principles of Learning, please click here.

For classroom resources, please visit the First Nations Education Steering Committee.