High School Lesson Plans for Economics Classes

Money Matters:
The Importance of Global Cooperation

This high school curriculum seeks to actively involve students in exploring and constructing an informed understanding of global cooperation by studying the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The activities are designed to include a visit — or virtual visit — to the IMF Center's exhibition, Money Matters: The Importance of Global Cooperation. They focus on the history, mission, structure and function of the IMF, as well as its past and continuing contribution to the economic stability of nations and the living standards of individuals.

Note to the teacher: The curriculum includes activities suitable for high school students enrolled in world and American history, geography, economics, and business courses. The curriculum begins with general activities, which can stand alone as an introduction to the IMF and/or prepare students for a visit to the IMF Center. (See II below.) These are followed by activities specific to students' courses of study. (See III, IV, and V below.) Teachers may choose from among the activities to satisfy classroom and field-trip needs and time constraints. Objectives and procedures are easily adaptable to the skill and knowledge level of students. Sections I and VI use concept maps as assessment tools to measure students' entry knowledge before starting the curriculum and final understandings following its conclusion.

Students will be able to:

  1. Explain the role of the IMF as a facilitator of global cooperation:
    • How the IMF functions as a cooperative international organization.
    • How the IMF facilitates international trade.
    • How the IMF strengthens its members' economies.
  2. Discuss the adaptations over time made by the IMF.
  3. Describe the interplay among sociocultural, political, and economic forces, and the impact of these forces on nations and individuals.
  4. Identify the essential mechanisms for productive cooperation when working with others, (e.g., negotiating, compromising, seeking consensus, and managing conflicts).


  1. Initial Assessment: Concept Map
    Note to the teacher: The curriculum begins with a measure of students' entry knowledge, using concept maps as the assessment tool. Concept maps provide a quick read of students' prior knowledge, e.g., misconceptions, familiarity with relevant vocabulary. They also serve to bring to the foreground both content and organization of current knowledge and attitudes, readying the student for what is to come.

    1. With the class as a whole, the teacher models the drawing of a concept map of the term "money" by writing it on the blackboard and asking, "What does this term mean?" As students respond, they and the teacher begin to map and make connections among related concepts.

    2. Students draw individual concept maps of the term "International Monetary Fund" or "IMF." After general discussion, the teacher collects the signed maps to be used as an assessment measure by teachers and students on completion of the curriculum.

  2. Pre-Visit Activities: General Introduction
    Note to the teacher: The first three activities provide students with the following: a general introduction to the IMF; practice in the processes of "reading" images; experience conducting web-based research. These activities are designed to increase both teacher and student awareness of competency and gaps in knowledge. Teachers may decide the number of class periods required for these activities. Students should maintain a folder of materials to be drawn on throughout the three-part curriculum. Following completion of this section, the lesson plans are tailored to specific courses.

    Teacher Materials: Selected images from the exhibit, including the IMF logo, "Who's Got the Gold?", "Anybody Have Any Suggestions?", "I Don't Even Understand the Old System", "During Transition to a Market Economy, Fasten Seat Belts"; IMF video, Millennium: Out of the Ashes (Media Player).

    IMF logo Who's Got the Gold? Anybody Have Any Suggestions?

    Printable IMF logo

    Printable "Who's Got the Gold?"


    Printable "Anybody Have Any Suggestions?"


    I Don't Even Understand the Old System During Transition to a Market Economy, Fasten Seat Belts


    Printable "I Don't Even Understand the Old System"


    Printable "During Transition to a Market Economy, Fasten Seat Belts"



    Student Materials: Appendix A: Pre-Visit Materials, including 1. Executive Board Room; 2. Glossary of Terms; and 3. "Researching the IMF" Worksheet. World Map

    1. Advance Organizer
      1. The teacher shows an image of the IMF logo with the olive branch, followed by a brainstorming discussion of the meaning of the symbols.

      2. The teacher shows exhibition images and leads a discussion of students' understanding or misunderstanding of the IMF. (Examples of possible responses/misconceptions-oversees the free exchange of currencies to its member nations, loans money, creates jobs, rebuilds cities.)

    2. Introduction to the IMF
      1. The teacher prepares students for viewing the "Millennium: Out of the Ashes" (Media Player) portion of the Millennium video by asking them to think about the following:
        • What are the goals of the IMF?
        • How is the organization structured to achieve its goals?

      2. The teacher shows this video "Millennium: Out of the Ashes" (Media Player) and facilitates a discussion during and/or following the video using the suggested questions below:
        • What are the purpose and ultimate goals of the IMF? How does the IMF logo represent the ultimate goals?
        • When was it founded? What is significant about the date?
        • What are the major differences between the IMF and the World Bank?
        • How many members sit on the IMF Executive Board? How does the Board make decisions?
        • Where do Executive Board members get information on which to base their decisions?
        • What do you know now about the IMF that you didn't know before?

      3. The teacher distributes and previews Appendix A 1,2, and 3. Students use the IMF web site and search additional Internet sites to complete research on the mission, structure, and work of the IMF.

        Note to the teacher: Include IMF Websites (www.imf.org): "What is the IMF?" "IMF At A Glance," and/or "Chronology," and sites addressing current IMF activities and issues. See latest speech of the Managing Director (www.imf.org/cgi-shl/create_x.pl?mds). In Appendix A 4 ("Researching the IMF"), the teacher may select from the list of questions or adapt them as appropriate.

    3. Discussion of findings
      The students report on the outcome of their web-based research.

  3. Pre-Visit Activities: Economics Curriculum
    Note to the teacher: The following curriculum activities (III A and B) complete the preparation for the visit to the IMF Center. The teacher previews processes and materials to be used by students at the Center, addresses the logistics for the visit, and introduces the overarching theme: "The IMF: An Agent of Economic, Social, and Political Change." Students will be able to:
    • "read" images;
    • add new meaning to terminology introduced in the previous assignment
    • explore the broader implications of the IMF and the interplay of sociocultural, political and economic forces.

    Exhibit Area 6 Cartoon-"During transition to market economy, fasten seat belt"
    Printable Exhibit Area 6 Cartoon-"During transition to market economy, fasten seat belt"


    Exhibit Area 3 Photograph -"Five cigarettes for an egg"
    Printable Exhibit Area 3 Photograph -"Five cigarettes for an egg"


    Student Materials: Appendix A4: Image Analysis Worksheet (Exhibit Area 6 Cartoon-"During transition to market economy, fasten seat belt"); (Exhibit Area 3 Photograph -"Five cigarettes for an egg"); B: "At the IMF Center": 1) Exhibit Worksheet; 2) Thematic Study Chart.

    1. Individually or in pairs, students use the Image Analysis Worksheet (Appendix A 4) to "read" one photograph and one political cartoon relating to a country's transition to a market economy and an international monetary system.

    2. The teacher facilitates a class a discussion of the process of "reading" images as a means of interpreting content.

    3. The teacher identifies topics for small-group assignments at the IMF Center and divides students into small groups (3-5 students). Groups choose one of the topics to focus their study at the IMF Center:
      1. The IMF: A Changing Role Over Time
      2. Politics and Economics: The United States and the International Economy
      3. Conflict and Cooperation: The Economic Consequences of International Interaction

    4. Students preview materials (Appendix B 1 and 2) to be used at the IMF Center. Focus questions in Appendix B 1 address the following:
      • how their topic relates to the purpose of the IMF;
      • controversies surrounding their topic (both past and present);
      • the political, social and economic ramifications of the issues related to their topic;
      • the extent to which the IMF has evolved in regard to these issues;
      • nations that have been directly involved with these issues;
      • success or failure of the IMF in addressing these issues.

  4. Visit to the IMF Center
    Note to the teacher: The visit to the Center provides direct experience for learning about the IMF and its role in fostering global cooperation. The activities continue to build understanding of the overarching theme-"The IMF: An Agent of Economic, Social, and Political Change."

    An IMF representative is on hand to provide information and answer questions. The visit is organized to minimize crowding by assigning groups to two parts of the IMF Center—exhibit areas and mini-theater. The visit takes approximately 1½ hours. Guided by "At the IMF": Exhibit Worksheet (Appendix B 1) and Thematic Chart (Appendix B 2), students will be able to:
    • "read" images;
    • discuss the adaptability of the IMF as an institution to internal and external crises;
    • assess the role of the U.S as an IMF member nation (e.g., contributions, leadership, dominance, support)
    • identify the economic, political, and social consequences of global cooperation.

    Student Materials: Folder containing Appendices A and B, notepaper, pencils.

    1. Introduction
      An IMF representative welcomes and orients students to the Center, and remains as a consultant to students during the visit.

    2. IMF Center Assignments:
      Students use materials in Appendix B (1. "At the IMF Center" Exhibit Worksheet and 2. Thematic Chart) to guide their activities. Half of the students explore the exhibit "Money Matters: The Importance of Global Cooperation," while half visits the mini-theatre and views case study videos about Africa and Korea. After 45 minutes, students switch activities.

  5. Post-Visit Activities
    Note to the teacher: These activities synthesize students' understanding of the IMF's role as a facilitator of global cooperation and the economic, social, and political consequences of its actions. Students will be able to:
    • identify the impetus for seeking IMF assistance;
    • describe the process used by the IMF in providing assistance to a member nation;
    • cite examples of the actions taken by the IMF in cooperation with others
    • hypothesize areas of research used by the IMF in determining whether or not to intervene on behalf of a member nation;
    • assess the interplay among economic, political, and sociocultural forces and the impact on nations and individuals.

    Student Materials: Appendices A and B, folders of cumulative materials, including assignments.

    1. Final Class Discussion
      Note to the teacher: This conversation uses the overarching theme-"The IMF: An Agent of Economic, Social, and Political Change"-to integrate students' new understanding of global cooperation.
      1. The teacher facilitates a discussion in which students contribute information from their group's focus at the IMF. The students draw on their IMF Center worksheets (Appendix B 1 and 2) to assess the economic situation, political climate, and social conditions of member nations seeking IMF intervention.

      2. The students brainstorm a list of research criteria to guide their case studies (below). The teacher facilitates a brainstorming session. Students take the perspective of an economist on staff at the IMF to identify the steps and types of information required to make recommendations to the IMF Executive Board. They produce a list of research criteria and data sources.

    2. Case Study
      Note to the teacher: Consult the IMF Website (www.imf.org), particularly the country page, to develop a list of countries undergoing economic change. The exhibit identifies several, (e.g., Brazil, Mexico, Korea, Poland, Russia, and numerous African countries).
      1. Using an IMF mini-theatre video as a model for case studies, the students choose one from a list of countries that have been affected in some way by the issues related to their small group topics. This country becomes the focus of a case study that examines the social, political and economic history, and current conditions of that country. Using the list of research criteria and date sources generated in the final class discussion above, students develop a case study of the IMF's involvement with regard to the issues. When relevant, students should use data sources to document changing conditions over time.

        Note to the teacher: Suggested research criteria and data sources are listed below.

        Economic data

        Social data

        Political data

        Balance of payments statistics
        Interest rates
        Fiscal (tax) deficit
        Financial reserves
        Current and capital accounts
        GDP per capita
        Dominant industries

        Literacy rate
        Life expectancy
        Doctors per capita
        Child labor rate
        Infant mortality rate

        Political stability
        Type of political system
        Prevalence of democratic institutions

      2. IMF Website: Students research the IMF Website (www.imf.org) for information about the chosen country's relationship with the IMF regarding membership and assistance in its economic affairs.

  6. Final Assessment: Concept Map
    Note to the teacher: The curriculum ends with a measure of the students' new understanding. By comparing the initial and final concept maps, both the teacher and the student are able to assess the growth of knowledge.

    Student Materials: Initial concept map.

    The teacher distributes the students' initial concept maps. The students draw a final concept map, with "IMF" at the Center. Students discuss the comparison between the two.

Money Matters Curriculum Table of Contents

Money Matters