Elections in Action Lessons

Elections in Action Lessons: 2014 EDITION

Whether you are teaching about this spring's primaries or planning to cover the midterms this November, the latest version of Mikva's Election in Action lessons is now available. To receive a *FREE* pdf version of these lessons (designed for middle and high schoolers), please click here to complete a short request form. You will then receive them by email within 24 hours.

(Click the following icon to download a Table of Contents for this curriculum: icon 2014_Elections_table_of_contents.pdf (69 KB) .)

Deconstructing Campaign Ads 

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. Click the document below to download the lesson, and use the links provided below for sample ads for both candidates for IL governor.
icon Deconstructing_Campaign_Messages_and_Perceptions.p (271 KB)


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.   

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.   

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. 

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.
icon Changing_Voter_Registration_Laws.pdf (228 KB)

Redistricting 101

  • 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. icon 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

Want to build a lesson around understanding and comparing different candidate profiles?  Click below to download the PowerPoint profiles of the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates put together by our Elections in Action team. icon candidates_bullet_points.pptx (96 KB)  

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.  icon Voting_Values_Checklist.pdf (153 KB)

Ten Ways to Teach About Election Day

During the 2012 Elections, the New York Times offered a quick list of ideas for how to bring the 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.  icon Mock_Caucus_Activity.pdf (80 KB)

Political Forum Viewing Guide

I Side With...

iSideWith.com hosts a quiz that students can take to find out where they stand on important issues.  The site also has articles and polls related to current policies.  Click here to take the quiz. 

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