Phalen Lake teacher receives educator award


See Vang

The Minnesota Council on Economic Education honored Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet Elementary School teacher See Vang at its annual “EconFest” celebration on Nov. 3 at 3M Corporate Headquarters in Maplewood. Vang received the 3M Innovative Economic Educator Award which recognizes educators who create lessons that approach the teaching of economics with creativity at the elementary and secondary levels. Winning entries were chosen based on innovation of approach, emphasis on basic economic concepts, ease of replication, and assessment of student learning. Vang is a third through fifth grade teacher.

Vang’s award-winning learning activity, “A Day in the Life of a Refugee”, for fourth grade students simulates a day in the life a refugee facing food scarcity and economic choices using the children’s book, “The Whispering Cloth” by Pegi Deitz Shea. Students identify and categorize producers, consumers, goods and services as well as natural resources and capital resources depicted in the book. Students learn to make economic decisions determining wants and needs through the lens of a refugee child by participating in a flea market game activity. Another activity involves the simulation of sharing food given different scenarios of family sizes and resources in order to reinforce and gain deeper understanding of economic scarcity and how resources are not always distributed equitably.

Vang will receive $500 during the award ceremony for her outstanding achievement.

“One of the most effective ways to increase student understanding of economic principles is to make economics and personal financial decision-making skills come alive in the classroom,” said Minnesota Council on Economic Education  Executive Director Donald Liu. “Every year, hundreds of Minnesota educators are doing just that. We look forward to recognizing their achievements and the imaginative teaching of Ms. Vang at our event celebrating teaching excellence and innovation on Nov. 3.” 

Minnesota Council on Economic Education  is a non-profit organization housed at the University of Minnesota with a mission to equip Minnesotans with the economic and personal financial understanding needed to succeed in today’s complex economy. Minnesota Council on Economic Education ’s primary outreach to Minnesotans is through teachers and students. The 3M Foundation has sponsored the 3M Innovative Educator Awards Program since 1975. 

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