Wednesday, May 23, 2007

[TIPS] a writing prompt for your economics students

How's this...

"OK, class, imagine this: Today, an engineer in the oil fields somewhere in the Middle East area has just finished analyzing the data, and to his/her horror the data shows that the Earth has reached 'Peak Oil.' In other words, we have just hit the midway point of the world's oil supply. From now on we are consuming the final oil deposits on the planet. Talk to me about what would likely happen in the short run and the long run when this news is made public." (It just may be THIS generation who will be faced with this inevitability.) "Use whatever tools you feel appropriate (Inspiration, the outline feature in Word, whatever tool you think works best for you) to jot down ideas. Not complete sentences yet. Just ideas. Things like, "Gas prices rise sharply" or "Panic on Wall Street." - whatever thoughts come to mind. You'll have 10 minutes to record your thoughts. Go."

Ten minutes later you say, "Let's hear some of the things on your list. Say just two items. If you hear something that you like but you didn't think of it, feel free to add it to your list." Then you go around the class to let them tell what they thought of.

Then, give them a wiki and let them build this out. Show them the Discussion area and encourage them to use it to discuss how they will format the front page, etc. Will this be written as a futuristic 'story?' What is the "voice" of the wiki? Present tense, past tense, future tense? What are your ground rules? For example, will you agree that instead of deleting someone's post that you will use the strike out style to strike itout and then put your idea after it - perhaps with your initials to show who made the change? Let them decide all that.

What will be interesting is how they talk about what happens in response to the situation, what the governments do, etc, as those are their ideas for possible solutions, aren't they?

So, Do you like the idea for an economics class?

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