Teaching Elections

November 6 and the mid-term elections will be here before you know it—have you made a plan for teaching about these elections and the electoral process? If not, there’s still time.  (And of course, elections and the electoral process are worthwhile topics all year long!)

Below are a few resources to help you generate an idea or two for bringing the elections into your classroom.

Secondary

Check out this Elections Project developed by Chrissy MacLean and her colleagues at Watsonville High School for the 2016 elections.

Watsonville High hosts Community Information Fair on ballot propositions

Students investigate a state proposition, prepare a presentation explaining its pros and cons, supporters and detractors, and then share presentations with their community.

As designed, the Project requires about five weeks and is meant for a U.S. government class, but we think it can also inspire shorter, even 1-2 day, lessons. For example, check out “Step 2”–might your class collectively investigate one state or local proposition using similar questions and processes?

Kudos to the hard-working teachers who made this happen and a big thanks to them for sharing their materials!

All grades

Explore civicsrenewalnetwork.org and their bank of teaching resources on “Voting, Elections, Politics” to find dozens of relevant lessons. This network is a great place to find resources from multiple non-profit organizations, all dedicated to high quality civic education.  Start at this link and then limit your search by grade level, organizational authors, or other criteria by using “Filter your results”  on the right hand side of the page.

Middle grades

You may want to explore the history of voting rights–a prime opportunity to discuss change and continuity over time and how change happens. See this lesson by Scholastic, especially Part 2, for some ideas and handouts that can start some middle grades lessons on this topic.

Grades 7-12

Questions about voting rights are quite current also. With older students, consider exploring arguments made in Director Ava DuVernay’s documentary, 13th, or resources provided by procon.org regarding felons’ voting rights.  Investigating recent voter identification laws in various states and what is known (or not) regarding their impact can also be an interesting and significant topic for older students.

Elementary

And remember even young students can be introduced to elections and voting. One way would be to consider a classroom issue or rule that students could decide. Choose an issue that you are truly comfortable with turning over to your students (you can put a time limit on the rule) and then create an election. Depending on the age of your students, the class might Investigate the issue, talk about reasons for support or opposition, prepare persuasive presentations, and vote. Reflecting on this classroom election can then generate opportunities to make connections to what adult voters will be doing in California on Nov. 6.

Bring elections into your classroom and guide your students into becoming future voters!