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Economics Illustrated

School: High Tech High School

City/State: San Diego, CA

Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Format(s): Book: Nonfiction/Informational

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This book was created by tenth grade students at High Tech High in San Diego, California. It combines student descriptions of economic terms and concepts with original student art that illustrates them.  Students were supported by social studies and art teachers at the school, and by an economist at UCSD. 

Each student was assigned an economic term and the following tasks: explain the term artistically through a linoleum block print, and in writing through a style that someone unfamiliar with basic economics can understand. Then, write a brief article about a contemporary issue that can be illuminated through an understanding of that economic concept. 

Student work covers a variety of issues, from local topics such as transit cuts and disputes over public beaches to global issues such as earthquake relief in Haiti and the spread of AIDS in Uganda. The work also addresses “hot-button” issues such as foreclosures, health care and unemployment.

When former U.S. President Clinton heard about the book from a friend who was a supporter of the school, he asked to have a copy sent to him. 

The book was printed as a paperback, 5” x 7.5”, using It is available for purchase from the website. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • The intended audience – those who are unfamiliar with economic terms - requires students to succinctly and clearly demonstrate their understanding of the content.
  • Students’ writing retains their own voice and reflects their age. For example, the essay on the term “rationality” focuses on how the benefits of sex often outweigh the consequences for teens.
  • Creating an image that illustrates an economic term requires sophisticated, conceptual thinking.
  • The topics relate to current issues and events. See essays on the War in Iraq, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, unemployment rates and the economic stimulus plan for examples.
  • This project displays individual work that through format and consistency feels cohesive and professional.

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can cite strong and thorough evidence to support an analysis of informational text.
  • I can analyze the overall impact of word choice on meaning and tone.
  • I can analyze accounts of the same subject from different mediums to determine which details are emphasized.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • I can use the writing process to focus on what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
  • I can use technology to produce, publish, and update writing products that link to information and display information flexibily and dynamically.
  • I can strategically use digital media in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can analyze figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
  • I can determine the meaning of specific words and phrases used in a primary or secondary source (including discipline-specific vocabulary about the political, social, or economic aspects of history).
  • I can assess how well an author’s claim is supported by reasoning and evidence.
  • I can evaluate reports based on data.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
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