Elections in Action Lessons and Resources
Rock the Vote's Democracy Class
Rock the Vote's Democracy Class Rock the Vote's Democracy Class is a one-period, civics education lesson plan that teaches high school students about the importance of voting, the history behind it, and registers them to vote. The program uses popular culture, video, a mock election, and classroom discussion to excite students about participating in our democracy and enable them to recognize the power that comes with voting. Click here to learn how to download all materials for free.
Beyond the Vote
Leading up to the November elections, the Project on Civic Reflection and Mikva Challenge joined with WBEZ to invite Chicago residents to think and talk together about how we participate in democracy--and what we hope for when we do. Voting is one form of participation, but how does it stand next to other forms of involvement as we move forward? How else can we act to improve our city and our world, and what, however we express ourselves, are we hoping to get done? An audio recording of the final conversation (that included several Mikva students and staff) is now posted here.
Impact of the Youth Vote
A new report from the Pew Research Center provides the latest evidence of the impact that young people had on this month's election. Click here to view a brief video segment from the PBS News Hour discussing this report.
Exit Polls Galore
Who voted for Obama? Who voted for Romney? When did they make their choices and why? CNN has gathered an extensive set of exit poll results sure to inspire classroom discussion (and maybe more questions than answers) on a variety of points. Click here to find their results.
Elections in Action Lessons: NOVEMBER 2012 EDITION
The 2012 General Election version of our Elections in Action Curriculum Unit is still available. To receive a *FREE* pdf/word version of these eight lessons and supplementary resources (designed for middle and high schoolers), please email the following information to email@example.com and you will receive them by email within 24 hours.
- School Name (+ City/State if not Chicago)
- Course/Grade Level that you teach
(To see a Table of Contents for this unit of lessons, click the icon below:
EIA_table_of_contents.pdf (71 KB))
Science Debate 2012
Earlier this year, ScienceDebate.org invited thousands of scientists, engineers and concerned citizens to submit what they felt were the the most important science questions facing the nation that the candidates for president should be debating on the campaign trail and then refined the questions to arrive at a universal consensus on what the most important science policy questions facing the United States are in 2012. Click here to read both the questions and President Obama and Governor Romney's answers.
With Election Day a week away, Team Obama and Team Romney have spent millions flooding the airwaves in key battleground states with (mostly negative) TV ads aimed at converting voters to their side. Click here for a Washington Post graphic that shows where each side is focusing its message and how spending has changed over time. (Thanks to Mikva teacher Jessica Marshall for sending this our way!)
Campaign Ads: Create Your Own and Analyze Others
In addition to the Mikva Elections lesson about Deconstructing Campaign Messages, the PBS NewsHour also offers a lesson that gets students thinking about how candidates choose words and images to send messages to voters. Click here to read that activity as well as a link that helps students create their own campaign ads using Facebook.
Let the Debates Begin!
The remaining presidential debates are scheduled for October 16th and 22nd. Teachers interested in having their students watch at home (or in class after the fact) can click below to download a debate viewing guide and reflection sheet to help structure the experience. Political_Debate_Viewing_Guide.pdf (140 KB)
Teaching Campaign Finance
UW-Madison has collected a variety of videos, articles, and discussion strategies that teachers can use to help students explore existing and proposed campaign finance laws (as well as their impact on elections). Click here to access the in-progress site.
- Additionally, you can click here to find the NYTimes' guide about the different ways one can make political donations.
- Or here to find the PBS NewsHour's lesson 'Dollars and Votes: 2012 Election' that explores the history and impact of the Citizens United decision.
Listen to Me
As part of their series of lessons around the 2012 election, the PBS NewsHour is asking people of all ages to submit short videos answering the question 'What is the most important issue to you during this election?' Click here to find the lesson plan and here to see videos that viewers have submitted thus far.
Candidates on the Issues
Teachers looking for an additional source that compares where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney stand on various issues can click here to access the Council on Foreign Relations' collection of the candidates' positions on multiple foreign policy issues.
Making Voters Out of Volunteers
Why are young people enthusiastic volunteers and organizers but tepid voters? In this NY Times piece, Ann Beeson of the Annette Strauss Institute argues that the key to reaching young voters is to tie voting directly to issues that young people care about. Teachers looking to organize voter registration drives and/or draw out their own students' voices and expertise on this matter this fall may find Beeson's piece a useful way to kick start conversation on the topic in class.
Youth Vote 2012?
How many young voters will turn out this November? Who will they vote for? And why are so many likely to stay home? Teachers interested in engaging their students in discussion around these questions can click here to find a recent story about these questions from NPR that is sure to inspire debate in the classroom.
Youth on the Trail 2012
What does the political landscape look like to America's youngest voters in 2012? Which issues grab them most? What shapes their thinking? What are politically active youth saying and doing? Are politicians paying attention? As a headline in the National Journal recently asked: "Can Obama recapture the youth vote?" From now through the November 2012 election, WKCD will provide answers to these questions and more. Click here to access the site.
Fact Checking the Candidates
Looking to engage students in a deconstructing campaign messaging? This article in June 19th's New York Times provides a good examination (and includes several examples) of how rival campaigns use different bits of information to create and support competing claims and sound bites. Click here to read the article.
Teachers looking for another resource to help get their students interested and engaged with this fall's election can check out USHLI's Project SED (Students for an Educated Democracy) - a project that aims "to educate, empower, and mobilize this generation of young voters and future generations of voters by utilizing the latest technology to create a virtual classroom that will make civic education more fun, instructive, interactive and engaging to the next generation of young voters." Click here to visit the site.
50 States' Voting Laws in One Place
Which states have early voting? In which states can ex-felons vote? How soon before Election Day must you register to vote? The New Organizing Institute's new election guide answers all these questions and more for all 50 states in a clear and organized format. A great resource for anyone interested in either their home state's laws OR in how voting laws vary from state to state. Click here to access the guide.
Changing Voter Registration Laws
In recent months, state legislatures across the nation have moved to tighten voter registration laws in various ways - including requiring voters to produce government-issued photo IDs to register and/or vote. Click below to download a collection of resources and lesson ideas to tackle this subject in the classroom.
Changing_Voter_Registration_Laws.pdf (228 KB)
Electoral Map Fun
Looking for an awesome interactive infographic that lets students and teachers alike visually explore the different ways that the 2012 electoral math could shake out this November? Click here to find just that from the New York Times and use it to design your own paths to victory for Obama or Romney. Be sure to scroll through all the pages!
Why Tuesday is a non-partisan organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections in honor of the 40th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Using social media, Why Tuesday? aims to provide a platform for national dialogue about the current voting system, its problems, and solutions that can directly improve the voting process, increase registration and drive turnout. Click here to access their videos, infographics, and blog posts to inspire classroom discussion about various ideas to increase voter turnout in the United States.
Path to the Oval Office
Interested in a free poster depicting the requirements and necessary steps for candidates to become President of the United States? Click here to download or order a printed copy of one from the federal government's publications office.
- Looking for a quick lesson to introduce students to the basics of how redistricting works and why it is important? Click below to download our one period lesson plan (with options for enrichment and extension) on the topic. Redistricting_101.pdf (180 KB)
- The PBS NewsHour has also put together a video and lesson plan on the topic of redistricting and how it can affect the outcome of state elections and federal policy; click here to find them.
Crash Course in SuperPACs
- Following in the footsteps of Stephen Colbert, the PBS NewsHour has published an article and accompanying lesson plan explaining what SuperPACs are, how they started, and how they may effect the 2012 election. Click here to read and download the lesson.
- For the past several months, comedian and satirist Stephen Colbert has repeatedly used his late night show to give his audience civics lessons about what SuperPACs can and cannot do, legally, to support candidates running for office. Educators interested in learning more about this topic can click here to find the Atlanticwire's synopsis of Colbert's recent moves or here for a list of video clips on this topic from The Colbert Report.
Republican Presidential Candidate Profiles
Looking for a quick way to familiarize your students with the Republican candidates' positions on the issues? Click below to download the PowerPoint profiles put together by our Elections in Action team. candidates_bullet_points.pptx (96 KB)
Rock the Caucus
Rock the Vote and the Iowa Secretary of State's Office have teamed up to create and present Rock the Caucus - the next installment of their Democracy Class series. Click here for more information and to download the Iowa-centered materials, including:
- Rock the Caucus Lesson Plan
- Educate Yourself: The Presidential Elections Process
- Educate Yourself: Political Terms and Definitions
- 2012 Calendar of Election Dates
- Iowa Voter Registration forms
- "Pledge to Vote" 2012 Postcards
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Voter Values Checklist
How do you choose which candidate you want to support? Is it a question of which candidate shares MORE of your values, or whether a candidate agrees with you on one most important issue? Click below to download our Voting Values Checklist activity, designed to help students clarify for themselves what matters most to them when choosing whom to support. Voting_Values_Checklist.pdf (153 KB)
Ten Ways to Teach About Election Day
Last week the New York Times offered a quick list of ideas for how to bring the upcoming elections into your classroom. Click here to find their list and links to previous lesson plans they've put together on the subject.
Mock Caucus Lesson
Looking for a one class period simulation to give your students a general idea of how caucuses work? Click below to download the lesson plan for a Mock Ice Cream Caucus. Mock_Caucus_Activity.pdf (80 KB)
- The controversial issues website ProCon.org recently created a page dedicated to the cataloguing 2012 Presidential Candidates' positions on various issues. For each issue question posed, the website designates each candidate as Pro or Con and provides a quote from that candidate on the subject. Click here to visit the site.
Deconstructing Campaign Messages and Resources
- This lesson focuses on analyzing the style and substance of the campaigns in both free media, such as the news and televised debates, and paid media, such as TV commercials.
Deconstructing_Campaign_Messages_and_Perceptions.p (271 KB)
Political Forum Viewing Guide
- Click below to download a viewing guide and accompanying reflection questions to assign your students when they attend or watch a political forum or debate.
Political_Forum_Viewing_Guide.pdf (98 KB)