Gutt to receive state award for innovation

When Carol Gutt was invited to present curriculum she developed to the Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) at the “Conference on Teaching Economics and Personal Finance” in August, little did she know she was doing so as an award winner.

Carol Gutt
Carol Gutt

The day after presenting “Teaching World Trade with Ice Cream,” it was announced Gutt will receive the MCEE’s 2012 Innovative Economic Educator Award in November.

Sponsored by 3M, Gutt will receive the award at 3M’s Innovation Center.

Gutt, who teaches eighth-grade computer exploration classes at Northdale, Roosevelt and Anoka middle schools, developed the curriculum as part of “Using Children’s Literature to Teach Economics,” a class at the University of Minnesota.

While Gutt knew that her professor, Dr. Curt Anderson, submitted his students’ work to MCEE, she had no idea her project would be honored.

“When it was announced I won the award, my professor came running from the back of the room and gave me a hug, and he’s not a hugging kind of guy,” Gutt said.

“And the teachers sitting at my table were very excited for me and the Anoka-Hennepin School District.”

Through the course, Gutt had to select a book and use it to teach economic concepts, including world trade.

She selected, “Here’s the Scoop: Follow an Ice-Cream Cone Around the World.”

In the book, by Neale S. Godfrey, a group of children learn about economic interdependence as they see how raw materials from around the world are used to make a product, in this case an ice-cream cone.

“I was worried about using a book with comic-like characters, but the kids loved it,” Gutt said.

“As I read through the book I asked the students critical-thinking questions like ‘where do you think we will go next?’ and ‘what are the next ingredients?’

“It was amazing how they were thinking what else would be in the ice cream. And we have a number of students from around the world, so I learned from them too.”

After reading the book to students, Gutt assigned students to pick their favorite food, a minimum of six ingredients in the food and create a report on where in the world the ingredients are grown.

Students plotted the destinations on personal and classroom maps.

During the exercise, Gutt also talked with students about natural resources and why some countries are able to produce more food than other countries.

Gutt incorporated technology into the assignment by requesting the students use Google Earth in their work. Google Earth is a virtual global map and geographical information program.

The most popular foods were pizza, lasagna and chocolate chip cookies. Although the foods were similar, recipes and ingredients were not.

Gutt said students with the same foods took different tours to create them; no two pizzas were alike.

One student selected a fruit salad and used her project to illustrate where fruit is found around the world.

Gutt, who has taught all levels from kindergarten to technical college, said this was a fun class to teach and as she taught the concepts, students were “right there with me learning and loving it.”

She said she is thankful for the support she’s received from the school district for her work.

“I feel I’ve been able to be creative,” Gutt said, “and that makes you more innovative.”

In addition to receiving the award, Gutt’s curriculum will be posted on MCEE’s site for other teachers to use.

Gutt plans to teach her award-winning project again this school year.

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