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Eureka Lessons’ Top 5 picks for 2016 Election Classroom Resources

Posted Eureka Lessons 10th grade social science, 11th Grade Social Science, 6th Grade social science, 7th Grade Social Science, 8th grade social science, 9th grade social science, American Government, Blog, Lessons

It's election year, teachers.  Many of you are probably excited to discuss the 2016 election in the classroom, but I know there's a small population of you out there who loathe doing this every four years.  Why?  Maybe because some of the most obnoxious and least informed students also happen to be the most passionate and vocal about the election.   Or maybe explaining the flaws of the electoral system while encouraging them to vote is just too convoluted and high rant risk.  Or maybe simply because you are *gasp* uninformed.  Fear not, teachers.  The internet is chock-full of amazing educational resources that engage students and more importantly, take the weight of the 2016 elections off your shoulders.  Here are Eureka Lessons' Top 5 picks for the most helpful 2016 Election resources for the classroom.

  1. The New York Times's, "Election 2016: 10 Ways for Students to Stay Engaged This Summer," has successfully compiled every useful, student-friendly tool on the internet to engage students in the upcoming election. They include online quizzes like CNN's 2016 Candidate Matchmaker and PBS's Political Party Test that help students figure out where they stand in the political spectrum and identify which of the presidential candidates' views most aligns with theirs.  They also provide up to date coverage on the latest election news and follow-up activities that allow students of all ages to be a part of the discussion.

  2. The Diane Rehm Show's Fridy News Roundup- Domestic series provide excellent coverage on the 2016 election and is one of my personal favorite news sources.  Diane Rehm brings in guests from all over the nation to speak on divisive political issues and current events, providing insightful and meaningful discussion on every issue under the sun.  While this show is both compelling and informative, it may also be a bit too mature (not sexy mature, more like boring mature) for younger audiences.  I'd recommend playing podcasts from this series for advanced 11th or 12th grade classes.

  3. PBS Election Central is a comprehensive guide for students to understand the entire election process from nomination to inauguration.  Its library of resources includes biographies, interactive maps, videos, and easy to digest analyses of debates.  It also informs students about various political issues that shape our political parties and affect the way we vote.

  4. The iCivics Win the White House Game is a presidential campaign simulator game that allows students to apply what they've learned about political parties and the general election.  It is important to remember that this is a cumulative activity that really belongs at the end of an election/campaign lesson or unit.  The game begins with profile customization and prompts students to choose a political party and avatar for the presidential candidate.  Next, students express their political views and take positions on which they will run their campaign.  The caveat to this part of the game is that students need to be able to identify political views of the party they're in.  If they can't, this part of the game could take a long time.  Next, they hit the campaign trail for 10 weeks, which allows them 10 turns to fundraise, poll, advertise, or speak in key states.  Depending on their performance and ability to meet the needs of their constituents, they can be victorious in the general election or face embarrassing virtual defeat.  After 35 minutes of game play, I concluded it was somewhat fun at first but after the first 6 rounds of campaigning, the bus starts heading toward snoozeville.  Luckily for you, the dismissal bell will probably ring before that happens.  This is not to say that the game is boring by any means.  If anything, it's an honest look into how politics- fundraise, advertise, rinse, repeat- is really played.  The game is money, power, and respect playa.  What kid wouldn't enjoy that?

  5. The Eureka Lessons "Elections, Campaigns, and Political Parties" series does a great job of laying the foundation for understanding the political spectrum of our nations parties and explaining the rules (soft and hard) of campaigning.  What, did you think we wouldn't plug ourselves in a Top 5 list?  It includes original content- reproducibles, power points, activities- and aggregated content that guide students through the circus we call the general election.  The whole series culminates in a unit project titled, "Create Your Own Political Party" in which students create their own political parties based on their political views and run a class-wide campaign to win the general election.  It's one of my students' favorite projects and it never fails to impress my bosses. 

    Download (political-party-statement-of-purpose.doc, DOC, 10KB)