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  Workshop 3: Public Policy & the Federal Budget  
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Workshop 3

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Teacher Perspectives
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Teacher Perspectives: Other reflections

Leslie Martin: I think [day one] went well. Things took longer. I was a little surprised and maybe even a little bit disappointed that the group who talked to me about gross domestic product couldn’t define it even in broad terms. We teach economics this semester and I really hit gross domestic product pretty hard because I want the kids to understand [how] fiscal policy affects GDP. I even emphasized that about 20 percent of gross domestic product is government spending--whether that’s [for] pens and pencils, or desks and chairs, or the Crusader, or the defense budget. I would have liked a little more involvement from some of the students. I could tell that there were three or four that were willing to participate more, and I had to get more out. Even when I was watching the small groups and the groups in the back of the class, they were just kind of leaning over, not contributing, not taking notes.

[On day two], I was pleased at the questions they asked [and] the way the students paid attention to the other student’s presentations. The speeches were great. Technology slowed us down a little, which I always forget about. The kids were real troopers in terms of making things happen and making it work. I was interested to see the way their budgets came out--a lot of focus on defense because of September 11th [and] a lot of focus on higher education. One of the groups even said, “We want to increase child development funding.” There was a recent article in Time about how teaching kids to read even before they get to first grade sets [them] on a much more successful academic career. That really couples with some things that we talked about in North Carolina.

[Day three] started off a little slowly but picked up. In the first presentation, the kids were a little more reticent or they didn’t know as much about the issue or what they were supposed to do. In the second presentation, they were more willing to jump in. I’m not sure if it’s because the issues were more interesting to them or they knew more about the issues. I felt that [the second] presentation covered more topics so it had more meat that they could respond to. They also started playing off each other. When I saw kids raising their hands, that’s when I felt it [was] going better.


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