Elections and Voting
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Elections dominate our media landscape. Countless voices clamor for our attention. Headlines and news broadcasts present conflicting reports on issues, using their own facts to bolster specific views. Shrill ads play to our fears and overwhelm our senses. As students are nearing the age when they’ll be allowed to vote, this lesson helps them to begin thinking about their voting futures.
Estimated Time: Two class periods
Level: 10th – 12th grade
Civil Dialogue & Critical Thinking
By the end of this lesson, students will have learned:
- Collaboration, including civil conversation and conflict resolution: students will experience working in small groups discussing a controversial issue. They will learn how to listen, understand and respect one another, especially when there are differences of opinion and background.
- Research and analysis, identifying bias: students will learn to better identify bias of different sources, classmates and in themselves, and how to get and maintain a balance of perspective.
- Civics participation: many students do not feel prepared to participate or vote. This program teaches students how to learn more about the news media, issues and elections so they can be better prepared and more confident for participating in elections.
See how this program complies with Common Core standards.
Tools & Resources Provided By AS4S & Our Partners
- The Elections Topic Page on AllSides provides background information, current news, and opinions on the issue.
- Think Tank Search on AllSides allows you to search through Think Tanks that represent different political perspectives.
- Participate in an Online Dialog on Mismatch.
Suggested Curriculum / Class Plan
Homework Prior to Class
- Students complete personal bias survey. This measures how biased the students thinks they are one way or the other.
- Students complete a political leanings survey. This will show students how their leanings match and are different than other groups across the nation.
- Discuss students’ experiences in taking the two political leanings surveys. Discuss and answer some questions (such as how similar or different they are to the rest of the nation).
- Share results of the two political leanings surveys with the class.
- Discuss whether the class represents the rest of the nation, or how it differs from other groups. Discuss what might be the causes or reasons for those differences.
If you’d like to have an in-class discussion, divide students into small groups, preferably with a mix of biases based on the political leaning surveys. Students will now have a discussion about voting using the following questions.
If you’d like to have an online discussion with a classroom that holds different political views, utilize the Mismatch platform.
Pick and choose from the following list of discussion questions, and give students time to discuss them in small groups. If time permits, also have students come back into a larger class-wide discussion to share their thoughts.
- Do you think American elections are fair?
- Do you plan to vote when you turn 18? What led you to that decision?
- How important was voting in your family?
- Why do you think some people choose not to vote?
- Do you believe our election outcomes would be different with higher voter turnout? How so?
Final Questions to pose to students, either as homework or just as a wrap up:
- What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?
Optional Homework Assignments
- Have students write a 300 word reflection after the Election and Voting class discussion — what did they learn? Did they have any interesting disagreements? Why do they think discussions about our environment matter?