Every four years on the first Tuesday after November 1st, American citizens cast ballots for electors, members of the Electoral College, who will cast votes for president. As the presidential election approaches, many educators may be trying to decide how to broach the subject and teach students about the election effectively. By walking students through the presidential election process as it is happening, educators are providing them with the opportunity to fully understand how a president gets elected, the issues each candidate stands for, the importance of “swing states,” and other related topics.
There are many resources available for teaching during a presidential election. During election season, it may be hard for students to filter through all of the information they are constantly being bombarded with on their cell phones. Using the resources below educators will be able to teach them about the presidential election as the process progresses!
- Election 2020 – 11 Ways to Engage Students From Now Until November: The New York Times provides eleven ways for educators to engage students from now until the presidential election. These recommendations include keeping track of the election’s twists and turns, reacting to what you read, predicting what you think will happen before the election is over, figuring out where you stand on certain issues, adopting an issue you care about, getting to know the presidential candidates, watching the conventions, and more. This resource offers educators a multitude of options regarding how to bring the 2020 election to the classroom!
- 9 Ways To Teach about the Election – A Social Justice Approach: ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, has come up with nine ways to teach about the election. The ideas for teaching about the election focus on social justice issues, which students may find themselves to be very interested in! With this resource, students will study each of the candidates’ positions on social justice issues, learn about the diversity of the country and voting tendencies, analyze the media coverage of the current election, watch the debates and reflect on the discussions of specific issues, etc. Under each idea, there are a few suggestions on how educators can integrate the topic into classroom activities while also helping students “analyze issues of bias, discrimination, diversity, civil rights and justice.”
- 2020 Election Resources: Classroom Law Project offers a series of lessons geared towards middle and high school students, which focus on the following electoral issues: electing a president and characteristics of a good leader, direct democracy and Oregon’s initiative process, voter rights, voter turnout, and more. Educators who are interested should take a look at how each lesson is broken down and what specific material is covered! In addition, the final unit contains a mock legislative hearing in which students will “testify” before a “legislative committee” and demonstrate the knowledge they have obtained throughout the lesson series.
- Twelve Interactive Activities for Learning About Elections: edutopia provides twelve interactive activities for learning about elections. One important part to understanding the presidential election is mastering relevant vocabulary, which is why a game of True/False containing election-related vocabulary is recommended for students in kindergarten to grade four and the games Call My Bluff and College Bowl are suggested for those in grades five through eight. The author also provides the names of activities for these same grade levels that will help them better understand polling and understand how the electoral college works!
- How to Help Your Students Navigate the News in a Presidential Election Year: EdSurge provides an article on how to help students navigate the news in a presidential election year. The author describes how fake news is probably going to be the biggest challenge educators will run into because they have to spend time in the classroom discussing both fake news and the election itself. A game called NewsFeed Defenders is suggested to help students better understand fake news, as it “engages players with the standards of journalism as they manage a fictional social media site focused on news and information.” If educators are looking to teach students during a presidential election year, they will also need to spend a few class periods on the concepts of fake news and media literacy!
- Vote of Confidence – When It Comes to Teaching the 2020 Election, Educators Have a Plan: School Library Journal’s article on teaching during the 2020 election encourages educators to set ground rules for their classroom (even if it is virtual), discusses the topics educators can focus on and ways to teach them in the classroom, and explains how adjustments will have to be made for Covid-19. At the end of the article, a list of free teaching resources for teaching elections and civics is provided. Educators who want some advice on how to bring the topic of the 2020 election into their classroom this fall should check this resource out!
- 7 Tips for Teaching During an Election Year: Prestwick House offers seven tips for teaching during an election, which include teaching students critical news watching, using political speeches to talk about rhetoric and the power of language, working with other departments, teaching satire using current events, tying the concepts to standards, setting ground rules for discussing the election, and being creative. Under each of these tips is a description of how educators can bring the idea into the classroom, which will prove to be extremely helpful!
- Tips for Educators During an Election Year: USC Rossier School of Education has put together a few tips for educators during an election year, specifically tips on how to facilitate difficult conversations in the classroom. The author describes a couple of preconditions that need to be in place in order to create an open and friendly classroom environment which would serve as a good place to have a conversation about the presidential election. These preconditions include forming a set of discussion norms which structure how students communicate with one another in the classroom and developing a “mindset and practice of critical reflection.” For educators who are looking for a resource to help them have a conversation about the election in the classroom, this article may be beneficial!
- There are many national news outlets and nonprofit organizations that report current news on the presidential election and common election issues. The sites below can provide important information on the 2020 presidential election:
Teaching students during the presidential election can be a very difficult task for a few different reasons, the most prominent being people’s strong opinions about politics. However, as long as educators stay neutral while presenting information about the election, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Most importantly, students will be equipped with all of the most important facts about the election necessary to form their own opinions about which candidate is best suited to serve this country!