Archive for the 'AP Economics' Category

Aug 14 2012

My first Economics lesson – Scarce Chairs!!

The following lesson is a great way to start an IB or AP Economics class for the year. I just tried it this morning for the first time and it went great!


  • Before your Econ students arrive for their first full class meeting, remove chairs until there are only half as many as you will have students. I stuck mine in the library, well out of view of the students coming to my class.
  • Tell students that the custodian removed the chairs for repairs, or they were taken to another room for a presentation or something. Anyway, you don’t know when they’ll come back and it may be a couple of weeks.
  • For now, we are stuck with this many chairs, and we have to figure out a way to resolve this problem!
  • Tell the students it’s up to them to decide how our limited number of chairs will be allocated. Have them brainstorm solutions out loud while you write their suggestions on the board.
  • Try to come up with 6-10 possible solutions, then have the students vote on the one they would like to see enacted. They can only vote once! Write the tallies next to each option on the board.
  • If there is a tie for #1, have the whole class vote between the two or three options you’ve narrowed it down to until there is one clear winner.
The Economist’s Solution:
  • Once the students have voted on their favorite solution, share with them the economist’s favorite solution. It is known as a sealed-bid auction.
  • Give each student a slip of scrap paper and have him write two things: 1) His name, and 2) the maximum price he would be willing and able to pay each class period to have a chair to sit on.
  • Collect the results, and in front of the students, organize their bids from highest to lowest. If there is a tie on the margin, have the students whose bids were identical bid again, writing their highest price on the back of the same slip of paper, then re-rank.
  • The students with the highest bids will get a chair! For example, I had 17 students, and only 8 chairs. The highest bid was $10, while three students were not willing to pay anything. Four kids were willing to pay $1, but there were only two chair left at that point. When they re-bid, one was willing to pay $2, one $1.75, $1.25 and $1.20. Therefore, the two remaining chairs went to the students willing to pay $2 and $1.75.
  • Finally, tell the winners that they can take a seat, and that everyone else must stand! At this point, of course, you can send the lowest bidders out to fetch the missing chairs and begin your debrief.
Economic concepts illustrated by the Scarce Chairs exercise:

Scarcity exists:

  • When something is limited in supply and in demand, it is scarce.
  • Everyone wants to sit, but the chairs were missing… chairs were scarce.
  • Scarcity is a function of both demand and supply. The greater the demand relative to supply, the more scarce something is.

Choices must be made:

  • Because scarcity exists, we must make choices about how to allocate our scarce resources
  • We had to choose between competing systems for allocating the chairs

Rationing systems:

  • When faced with scarcity, a system must be decided upon to ration the scarce items.
  • The systems we decided upon ranged from a lottery to first come first serve to a merit-based system.

Something that is scarce has value:

  • Everyone wanted a chair, yet they were limited. Because the chairs provide us with benefit, we value them, and are therefore willing to pay to have one.
  • Value is a function of scarcity. The scarcer something is, the more valuable it becomes (gold), while less scarce items are less valuable (drinking water).

Consumer surplus:

  • Consumer surplus is the difference between what you are willing to pay and what the price is.
  • Sofia would have had lots of consumer surplus if she only had to pay $2 , because she was willing to pay up to $10.

Equity versus Efficiency:

  • Equity means fairness, while efficiency requires that resources go towards their most socially optimal use, so that those who value something most end up getting that which they value. 
  • The tradeoff between equity and efficiency is a major theme of the IB Economics course.
  • What is most efficient (an auction to determine who is willing to pay the most for the chairs) may not be equitable (or fair).
  • When the richest students end up in the chairs, those with lesser ability to pay feel that they’ve been treated unfairly.
  • A lottery in which names would be drawn from a hat to determine who gets a chair is certainly more equitable, but is actually less efficient, since those who get the chairs may not be those who place the greatest value on having a chair.
  • Auctioning the chairs assures that those who value them the most will end up getting them, therefore resources are allocated most efficiently.


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Aug 09 2012

Preparing for a new year of AP and IB Economics

Another summer has come to an end and I’m in my classroom preparing for another year of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Economics. There’s a lot to be excited about this year, including the fact that the co-author of my textbook, Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma, Sean Maley, has joined me at Zurich International School as a teaching partner. He will be taking two sections of IB Year 1, two of IB Year 2 and one AP Microeconomics this year. I will have the same IB load and one AP  Micro/Macro combined course.

I’m also excited because this year I will be using my brand new PowerPoints and Lecture Notes created over the summer, which are a huge improvement on their popular predecessors.

In addition to adding to the already large library of video lectures on The Economics Classroom created last year, I plan to produce even more 8-15 minute YouTube lessons covering the remaining topics from AP and IB Economics. For each new lesson I produce, I plan to create a practice activity to go with it (all of last year’s activities are already available for free here). I’ve received several requests from teachers and students for answer keys to go with each activity, which is also something I plan to create this year. By this time next year, I hope to have a workbook for AP and IB Economics available for purchase through my website.

Other exciting developments in Welker’s Wikinomics include:

  • Flashcards on key terms from every section of the AP and IB course, developed late last school year to help my students study for their exams,
  • A comprehensive glossary of over 330 Economics terms, also made for exam review last year,
  • Floating definitions on the Economics Classroom, so that no matter what post you’re looking at, the definition of any key term can be read without having to leave the page,
  • My free mobile app for the Android and iPhone, which provides convenient access to the mobile versions of both Economics in Plain English and The Economics Classroom, along with full access to the flashcards and glossary on your mobile device.

If you’re not already subscribed to the weekly update from Economics in Plain English and the Economics Classroom, go ahead and enter your email address into the field in the upper right hand corner of this blog, or on my home page. You’ll receive one email newsletter per week (Monday morning) containing the latest posts or video lessons put up in the last week. You can also follow me through your favorite social media, indluding:

As always, I love hearing from students and teachers using my resources. Please feel free to post your comments to this blog or send me emails directly at I love hearing suggestions and talking to teachers and students about Economics about any topic whatsoever!

Here’s to a new school year and another exciting year of Economic teaching and studies!

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Jul 18 2012

New Economics PowerPoints and Lecture Notes for a New Syllabus!

Welker’s Wikinomics Lecture Notes-Order here
Over the last four years nearly 400 teachers and students have purchased and used my popular PowerPoints and Lecture Notes covering the  AP and IB Economics syllabus. I would like to thank everyone who has bought these, and I sincerely hope they served a valuable function in your teaching and learning Economics. Believe it or not, selling these resources it the only revenue I earn from the ever-expanding selection of  resources I provide through Welker’s Wikinimcs.
Now, five years since I first started making my PowerPoints and Lecture Notes available to students and teachers, I have completely remade them from the ground up. The new versions of the Microeconomics Lecture Notes are, as of today, available to buy online. I have been working hard in the last several months to completely redesign the PowerPoints and Lecture Notes, which now include interactive and multi-media features that will enhance your Economics teaching and your students’ studies.  Here are some of the features included the new Welker’s Wikinomics Lecture Notes:
  • Quantitative Methods included: The new IB Economics syllabus includes several newly added sections requiring quantitative analysis. Every new topic is covered in detail, with worked solutions to IB-style problems included
  • Video Lectures Embedded: The new Lecture Notes include embedded video lessons that I have been producing over the last year covering nearly every topic. Each lesson ranges from 7 to 15 minutes in length and includes illustrations and clear, spoken explanations of every concept from the syllabus. If you buy the PowerPoint versions of the Lecture Notes, the videos can be viewed right from within the presentation. If you buy the pdf versions, there are direct links to each of the videos, which can then be viewed from my website,The Economics Classroom.
  • AP-only units included: AP teachers should not feel left out; I also completely remade the AP-only units on Consumer Behavior and Resource Markets!
  • Links to Online Resources: The new Lecture Notes also include updated links to blog posts from Economics in Plain English and dozens of downloadable worksheets and practice activities to guide you to success on the Microeconomics exam.
  • PowerPoint or PDF: Just as with the old versions, you have the option of buying the PowerPoints (these can be edited and adapted for individual teacher use) or the PDF (primarily for students) versions of the lecture notes. You now also have the option to buy class sets of the PDFs to distribute to your students to follow along during your lectures.
  • Satisfaction guaranteed: If you buy a set of the lecture notes, and within one week decide they are not suited for your needs in the classroom, I guarantee a 100% refund of your purchase. Just shoot me an email and let me know of your concerns, and you’ll have your money back asap.
As a bonus, if you’re using my new textbook, Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma, the Lecture Notes are an outstanding complement for your own instruction and for your students as they progress through the course.
The new information and order page is now online. A free sample can be viewed there, along with a full description of what’s included and all the features the Lecture Notes offer. Please email me if you have any questions or need more information about how to order. Thanks for your time! ~Jason
Here’s just a tiny sample of what the new lecture notes have to offer!

Sample Welker’s Wikinomics PowerPoint from Jason Welker

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May 04 2012

Economic flashcards now ready to review on!

Flashcards – all units | The Economics Classroom

I’ve been hard at work the last two weeks creating new tools for the Introductory Economics students preparing for their AP, IB, or other exams this month. My latest addition to my website,, is Flashcards for all the key terms in the AP and IB Econ syllabuses. The flashcards also work very well on mobile devices (Android, iPhone, iPad), and can be easily accessed from my new Mobile App, available for various devices here: – the Mobile App.

You can study flashcards from the entire syllabus or from one unit at a time. You’re presented with ten flashcards at a time, which you should try and master before clicking the “shuffle” button to get ten new flashcards from the unit you’re studying. The cards always appear in random order. If you wish to review key terms in alphabetical order, you are best served by another recent addition to, the dictionary.

If there are any key terms or concepts you think could be added to the dictionary or the flashcards, please log in and leave a comment on the page for the unit you think a term should be added to, I will respond to all comments quickly with the addition of the terms requested!

Enjoy! And good luck on this months exams!


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Apr 21 2012

Resources for AP Economics and IB Economics Exam Review

Visit my new site, The Economics Classroom, for review videos, an Economics glossary, worksheets and practice activities and countless other resources to help you prepare for your exams in Introductory, AP or IB Economics. Or go straight to the Economics Exam Review page.

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