One way or the other, things will probably get a bit more . . . hmm, interactive in your classrooms over the next few weeks. As final results from today’s election trickle in this week and mail-in ballots are counted, you will most likely have some students who will question the results. Making class discussions difficult and uncomfortable.
But that sort of learning can be difficult. I get that. Throw the pandemic into the mix and I can’t think of a tougher time to be a classroom teacher. And you’re not alone in being concerned about taking on controversial topics.
Education Week survey data gathered back in 2017 suggested that many teachers find it difficult to talk about race, politics, and other controversial topics. Almost 30 percent expressly avoid it completely. Part of the problem is that many of us – 44 percent – don’t feel prepared to lead conversations that will probably get emotional.
So should you even try? And if you do decide to take on that challenge, what’s the best way to deal with those conversations?
Answer to the first question? Read more
The election is getting serious. We’re already collecting votes.
So if you haven’t yet jumped into teaching about the election, now’s the perfect time. Today, we’ve got seven handy online resources that’ll provide lessons, information, maps, graphs, and all sorts of other election goodness.
- Start with the Election Collection curated by PBS Learning Media. You’ll find seven different sections that will help you and students keep up with election news, study the history and process of presidential elections, explore voting rights, and engage in classroom debates with videos, activities, and lesson plans. You want to spend some time with their interactive Electoral Decoder to explore electoral college results from previous elections, and predict the outcome of the upcoming election. Participate in their Youth Media Challenge: Let’s Talk About Election 2020. Empower your students to share their take on issues that matter to them and learn how they can create and publish audio or video commentaries for a national audience.
- 270toWin has a similar Electoral Vote Calculator but they also delve deep into Senate and House races, state races, and governor races. You can find tons of historical data, the latest polls, and pundit predictions.
- Schools need to be places that champion civility, equal rights, safety, and civic action for social change and kids need opportunities to practice how to engage with people and ideas across differences.. So Teaching Tolerance offers a range of resources for engaging students on some of our most pressing societal issues.
- The Anti-Defamation League put together a series of resources that they’ve titled Teaching Tools: Before, During & After Elections.
- I love the work that the League of Women Voters does to increase voter turnout and provide information. Their Vote411 site is a perfect place to get voter registration information, candidate guides, and actual ballets from every election in the country.
- I’m still upset with Newsela and their move to lock down so much of their online stuff but they are offering a pretty sweet free set of election resources. (Though you will need to create an account or log-in to access the page.)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Work with Me page.
I know we’ve already started down the path of the 2020 elections. But now it’s getting serious. We’re deep into the primaries and we’re actually counting votes.
So if you haven’t yet jumped into teaching about what’s coming next fall, now’s the perfect time. And History Tech has got you covered. Today, we’ve got seven handy online resources that’ll provide lessons, information, maps, graphs, and all sorts of other election goodness. Read more
We all love iCivics. And why not? Tons of useful tools. Simulations. Games. Lots of teaching materials. Oh, yeah. And it’s all free.
If you’re not super familiar with iCivics, it’s good to know why it exists.
“iCivics exists to engage students in meaningful civic learning. We provide teachers with well-written, inventive, and free resources that enhance their practice and inspire their classrooms.”
Simple. Accurate. But not very specific. So what does iCivics have that can help you this spring and next fall? Here are just a few of my favorite tools designed specifically to help with teaching the upcoming election.
In less than a year, all eyes will be on the Capitol steps for the next Presidential Inauguration. It’s going to be a busy year on the political front, and in your classroom. You can help your students become more knowledgeable about the U.S. election system with two of iCivics’ most popular games:
- Win the White House
- Cast Your Vote
“As a mapmaker, I can have more impact on an election than a campaign. More of an impact than a candidate. When, I as a mapmaker, have more of an impact on an election than the voters, the system is out of whack.”
Republican redistricting consultant following 1990 Census
I don’t think we spend enough time having kids explore the whole gerrymandering thing as part of our government / civics engagement instruction. David is right. And I don’t think enough of us understand the power that redistricting can have on the democractic process.
Quick primer. Gerrymandering is the legislative act of creating voting maps that favor your particular political party. And according to a recent Wired article, it usually involves one of two different tools: Read more
For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.
And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.
Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more