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Open & Operating: The Federal Reserve Responds to September 11


This video-based lesson is designed for high school and college students to answer these important questions and provide teachers of history and economics a flexible format in which to introduce the Federal Reserve System.
Curriculum Link: Author: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco ©

Expected Student Outcomes/Objectives

  • What is the purpose of a central bank?
  • How did an extraordinary event challenge the infrastructure of the financial system?
  • What role does the central bank play in responding to a crisis situation?

Description of Activities

The events of September 11, 2001 provide the context for this lesson, documenting how the Federal Reserve acted decisively to calm the financial markets, keep funds moving, and stabilize the economy. Students will participate in an opening discussion, actively view the Open and Operating video, and complete a culminating assignment.

The video combines news footage and interviews with Federal Reserve officials to illustrate how the Fed functions in the real world. The accompanying lesson plan addresses the voluntary national content standards in economics and explains concepts such as "liquidity," "monetary policy tools," and the "payments system."

  • Identify the steps taken by the Federal Reserve System to stabilize financial markets following the events of September 11.
  • Define liquidity and its significance in providing a stable economic environment in which individuals and businesses conduct daily activities.
  • Create graphic organizers depicting the actions of the Federal Reserve in response to the events of September 11.
  • Utilize graphic organizers to write a summary outlining the benefits of a well-functioning central bank.

Culminating Activity and/or Assessment

Utilize the poster scoring rubric on page 12 to assess student summaries. A second approach to evaluating student understanding will utilize the multiple
choice questions created by each pair of students.

Instructional Materials Needed

Computer and internet access to download curriculum and video. Order free video online, or download- test in advance.

Instructional Materials Provided

Lesson plan includes web links to video and required documents.

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Additional criteria

Cost: Free

Curriculum type: Lesson

Academic subject areas: History/Social Sciences; Career-Technical Education

States' Career Clusters: Finance; Business Management & Administration

California Industry sector(s): Business and Finance

Duration: 1 to 2 class periods

Grade Targets: 11, 12

Level of Expertise for CTE: Capstone/Advanced

Standards Addressed: Alignment with Common Core, NGSS, C3 or CTE Standards evident

Online curriculum

Keywords: Central Bank, Financial System, Liquidity, Monetary Policy Tools • Payments System

Source: Web Site

Curriculum Link:

Related Website(s):

Reviewer Comments

The Federal Reserve offers many resources for teachers and students. go to to learn more.

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