Lindsay, MS/HS, Social Studies

Contextualizing Economics, World History, and Government

Lindsay Verwys from Concord Academy

Interview with Lindsay Verwys

In this interview Lindsay describes how she uses Facing the Future activities to provide a hands-on context in her Economics, World History, and Government classes.

School: Concord Academy, Boyne City, MI

Grades: 7-12     Classroom Size: 15

Subject: Global/International Studies, Social Studies

Classroom Challenges:

  • Classroom Management
  •  Small Group Activities

Click on a topic below to read more about Lindsay's work:

Please describe your experience with Facing the Future materials and how you use them in your classroom:

"Facing the Future lesson plans are very well organized and take little time to prepare for. No additional research is needed to prepare for the lesson, all the overheads are also prepared. I have left Facing the Future lesson plans for substitutes and they were able to pick them up and execute them with ease. They are very well written and clear - so easy to use you don’t have to be a master teacher to understand them."

Lindsay uses the following Facing the Future resource:

How did these resources fit into your curriculum?

"I have used Facing the Future activities in many of my classes. I teach Social Studies for 7-12th grades at our charter school. I have found these activities useful in all of my subjects. I have specifically used them in Economics, Government and World History, but I’m sure I could easily adapt them to other classes as well. I like how the lesson plans bring us up-to-date and are relevant with world issues. I can use topics like this even when I am working with ancient history.

Economics Class

World History


A lot of teachers struggle to find room in their curriculum for supplemental materials, like Facing the Future materials. How did you do this?

"I don’t make it a separate lesson, I incorporate it into the lesson I am already doing. When working with Communist China and how people are evacuating I used 'Seeking Asylum' and we discuss what they would do if they were in that situation. You can probably substitute Facing the Future lesson plans for activities you are already doing in your class - the Facing the Future lessons are usually more active than the traditional way of teaching and therefore gets students more involved."

What standards were used or met when using Facing the Future materials?

"In Michigan we are required to use the Michigan Standards and Benchmarks while teaching. While Facing the Future doesn’t break it down into specific standards they do tell you which subject you would likely use the topic for (M ~ Math, R~ Reading focus). So even though you are teaching about social studies, Facing the Future may have a way to incorporate math in the lesson."

Facing the Future curriculum resources correlate to standards in all fifty U.S. states.

What were your main objectives/goals for this course?

"My main goal is always to make sure the students learn. They can take notes and tests and quizzes on any topic, but when they are up and actively learning I think they retain more. This is achieved when I use Facing the Future."

How did the Facing the Future lessons help you meet these objectives/goals?

"By providing a way to teach my lessons in a fun, active based approach."

What skills did your students gain?

"Students are able to use problem solving skills in just about every Facing the Future activity. They have to collaborate in either a whole group setting or a small partner share setting, but either way they are sharing their ideas with others. Students gain knowledge about the topic but also learn great life lessons such as cooperation."

How do Facing the Future resources help you address your classroom challenges?

"I have small class sizes and unusual groups (Freshmen with Seniors).

  • Small Classroom
    I am able to use Facing the Future [resources] with my small classrooms because the directions usually break down how many students you need with the material list. It is already prepared for me no matter how many students I have.

  • Classroom Management
    If part of the project is more difficult I can break up my class and assign specific tasks with each group – giving the harder tasks to my Seniors and the easier ones to my lower achieving students."

Did you make adjustments to Facing the Future lesson(s)/reading(s) for your classroom type?

"Occasionally I will need to make adjustments based on how well the students are grasping the content. Facing the Future gives you additional resources. I have used some of these while teaching- especially the video and books when a student is having trouble understanding the topic, or even better when they are more interested than time allows, I can give them more challenging work to do at home. "

What parts of the unit engaged your students the most?

"They like to get out of their seats and move. Any time it involves another class they get excited, an example would be when they have to interview another group."

What resources do you use to complement Facing the Future materials?

"We use our textbooks for resources and I provide notes to the students to recap information. Sometimes worksheets or quizzes are used for review. Occasionally I will find a short video clip."

How did these resources complement each other?

"It gives the students a balance while learning the same topic. They can hear the same thing three or four times just in different mediums. First in notes, then a video, then an activity based lesson and to wrap it up a worksheet for review."

Have Facing the Future resources helped you participate in school or district-wide sustainability projects?

"Last year we created a school garden and had students from each grade be responsible for a crop. It was a neat way to get everyone involved."

Do these materials and teaching global sustainability help you be a better teacher?

"Absolutely, the lessons alone give me more time to spend outside of school. They are easy and take little planning time. They are also something the student enjoys and gets information from. All this together helps me to be a better teacher daily."

Does using Facing the Future materials help you reach your professional goals or help you grow as an educator?

"Yes, I am able to spend more time creating alternative lesson plans for other subjects that Facing the Future doesn’t currently compliment. If I had to do this for all of my subjects each day it would be impossible."

How do you assess these courses?

"The final assessment is a test, but usually I rely heavily on classroom discussion when working with one of the lessons from Facing the Future. Occasionally I will have them write an opinion paper."

What advice, if any, would you give to teachers using Engaging Students Through Global Issues lessons for the first time?

"Its so easy. Just pick up the book give it 15-minutes and you will be able to have a lesson ready to go."

Anything else you’d you like to share with other teachers who are looking to engage their students in global issues and sustainability?

"Students like the action that these activities involve. Students usually remain under control because they are so into the topic. Give it a try, you can always modify it if it doesn’t work with your specific class. I would say this is one of the resources I use the most."

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About Us

We equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future through hands-on curricula and professional learning.

Facing the Future is an
independent program of WWU