Do you loathe teaching about elections? I used to!
This year is an election year, and that means the campaign, debates, and election news are everywhere you turn. While this can all be overwhelming and cause many of us to want to stick our heads in the sand, it is important that we teach our students about the election process.
Currently, there are many hot button issues and mud-slinging surrounding elections, so it is vital to remember we are teaching the process. This means we approach the topic from a factual and unbiased stance. Our own personal feelings need to stay out of it.
With this being said, I do NOT feel that teachers should stay unbiased or silent when it comes to making sure all our students feel loved and safe in our classrooms. That is separate from teaching the election process though.
In this post, I will detail strategies for teaching the election process. Some of the links included are affiliate links, meaning if you click and choose to buy an item I will receive a small commission with no additional cost to you.
- Choose Books that Include Elections
There are MANY books out there that involve an election. Some of my favorites are:
- The Night Before Election Day
- What’s the Big Deal About Elections
- Democracy for Dinosaurs
- ABC What an Informed Voter You Will Be
- If I Ran for President
- Everything You Need to Know About the U.S. Voting System
- Vote for Our Future
- V is for Voting
- Lillian’s Right to Vote
- Vote for Me!
Of course, there are a ton more books on the topic!
- Use a Polling Location Map to Practice Map Skills
One of my favorite ways to integrate learning about an election into the classroom is through the use of maps. A good, non-partisan way of doing this is by looking at maps of polling locations.
Students can examine the map and practice giving directions from one polling location to another or describe the most convenient polling location from their own home or school. The possibilities are endless.
- Write Campaign Speeches for Student Elections
An integral part of any candidate’s campaign is giving speeches.
Students can choose an office they would like to run for, and brainstorm concerns that are important to them. Using these concerns they should then write a speech to give the class on why they are the best person for the job including their plan for action if elected.
- Integrate Elections Content Across Subjects
Elections offer a plethora of content to be used in the classroom.
Of course, the election process should be taught in social studies. A personal recommendation for this would be this Jigsaw Method Activity all about elections in the United States.
In math, you can take a look at polling data and graphs to form and answer questions. This information can be real, or fictional, and ties in with media literacy standards for ELAR as well.
In reading, you can take a look at a speech, real or fictional, and identify figurative language as well as correct grammar and differentiate between fact and opinion. These multi-genre passages are also a great way to integrate election content into the ELAR block.
- Future Voters Project
Teaching Tolerance has launched an initiative to get all students registered to vote when they turn eighteen.
That isn’t all though, this project also includes educational materials for students all along the way. Check it out here.
- Hold Mock Elections
Let me start by saying proceed with caution on this one.
I would NOT recommend having a mock election with the actual candidates, especially with an age group that cannot actually vote.
Instead, use fictional candidates with a fictional platform, book protagonists, cartoon characters, or candy. Really, anything but the actual candidates.
- Compare and Contrast How States Vote in Elections
Each of the fifty states has its own laws when it comes to voting and they vary. Take some time to evaluate the different requirements for registering to vote as well as actually voting in a few different states including your own.
In the End
There are many wonderful ways to encourage civic awareness and learn about the voting process in the classroom. Choose a way, or three, that works for you and dive in!
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