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An activity for the first Economics lesson of the year!

As the academic year starts in many places and after reading a couple of posts on ideas for activities for the first lesson, I thought I would share an activity that my students have done for the last couple of years (and one I will use for the forseeable future)!

I used to find that the first lesson was often the most difficult one of the year to plan as I was never quite sure about what to do once I had done the admin stuff and explained the general outline of the course (all of which most students find pretty tedious anyway). Since I have started using this activity (heavily adapted from a source now forgotten) I actually look forward to the first lesson as the activity gets them talking about the important introductory economic concepts of scarcity, choice, and opportunity cost in an engaging and realistic way.

A pdf file of the activity can be downloaded here. Economics_1st_lesson.pdf
The instructions are all self explanatory and the activity revolves around students making choices about which patients should get treatment and which ones shouldn’t. I usually get them to do it in pairs and once they have decided on the allocation of treatment we can then discuss the results as a class. Some great discussion is usually had about who they think has more right to treatment than others (given the scarcity of resources) and we can then talk about how these choices are quite common in the health sector. The power of life and death can be a scary thing! When we cover scarcity, choice, and opportunity cost in a more formal way in subsequent lessons, the students are all able to relate these concepts back to this activity.

So that’s my first lesson always planned! I hope that it helps some other teachers for that first lesson too! smile

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