TeachersFirst's Resources for Elections

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Whether it is a presidential year or an off-year election cycle, there are many excellent election resources on the web to help your students understand and become involved in the electoral process. This collection highlights the TeachersFirst editors' favorite election resources for all levels.

If you wish to choose from a more extensive list election-related resources or to narrow your list for a specific topic and grade level, use the search tool at the left of this page.

 

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iCivics, Win the White House - iCivics

Grades
4 to 12
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Make the presidential election process personal. Run for U.S. president by playing this free interactive online game which is best played on a computer using most current browsers....more
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Make the presidential election process personal. Run for U.S. president by playing this free interactive online game which is best played on a computer using most current browsers. In this lively, colorful simulation, students will experience being part of a campaign, including creating a candidate avatar, selecting either Democratic or Republican issues, participating in debates and developing a media campaign. Choose your level to start: elementary, middle, or high school and complete the easy-to-follow tasks which do involve some reading, especially the debates section. The "Campaign Manager" will lead you through the process ending with your final probability of winning. Loading the game may take a few moments. Sound begins immediately, but may be toggled off. Online assistance is available by clicking the Help button in the top right corner at each step of the game. Also, the Back button in the top left corner allows easy do-overs of sections. Students may play without registering, but will access more content, compete with others and earn badges after logging in. You can have separate accounts for students and teachers, but must have email addresses. An automatic username is generated when registering. The easy to use Extension Pack for Teachers provides more activities and assessments. Registered teachers can message students and create classes to give students a virtual class code to join without needing an email. If students register, they can check their My iCivics accounts to see points and message members of their groups which can be controlled by the teacher.

tag(s): elections (75), presidents (131)

In the Classroom

Start out using this site with your projector or interactive whiteboard with the whole class. Walk through the beginning of the game and demonstrate the built-in help which is useful for students who might need additional guidance. Have individuals play or create small group teams of campaign staff to guide the candidates. Students or groups may play multiple times. After registering, the site will save games and students can send messages. Use the Achievements badges and points for student assessments. Have students research the debate topics and compare the different aspects of the game to real-life examples in the news. An easy to use Extension Pack for Teachers provides more activities and assessments.
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Election 2016: Our Teaching and Learning Homepage - The Learning Network/New York Times

Grades
5 to 12
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Select from the best and most "evergreen" resources for teaching about the 2016 election at this homepage for The Learning Network. Choose from a complete four-part election unit or...more
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Select from the best and most "evergreen" resources for teaching about the 2016 election at this homepage for The Learning Network. Choose from a complete four-part election unit or smaller lesson plans covering topics including comparing candidates and understanding primaries and caucuses. Other portions of the site include classroom discussion questions, articles, and free resources from around the web.

tag(s): elections (75), electoral college (16), politics (99)

In the Classroom

Take advantage of the many free activities and resources found on this site well after election 2016. Modify any of the materials to teach about local and state elections or adapt questions to fit any current topic. Have cooperative learning groups create podcasts discussing the biggest issues surrounding an election. Use a site such as podOmatic, reviewed here.
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Does Your Vote Count? The Electoral College Explained - Christina Greer

Grades
4 to 12
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Many students (and adults) don't fully understand the role of the Electoral College in presidential elections. Does Your Vote Count? is a YouTube video providing a clear explanation...more
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Many students (and adults) don't fully understand the role of the Electoral College in presidential elections. Does Your Vote Count? is a YouTube video providing a clear explanation of the Electoral College and how it works as part of the election process. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): elections (75), electoral college (16)

In the Classroom

Share this video on an interactive whiteboard (or projector) as part of any election unit. Have students research the number of electoral votes available in your state. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, to compare the democratic process in the United States to that of another country. Have students create maps using Animaps, reviewed here, to identify the number of electoral votes available in each state. Students can add text, images, and additional information such as how the electoral votes were cast in previous elections.

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Electoral College - The Lou Frey Institute of Politics & Government

Grades
5 to 12
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This 5 minute YouTube video explores one of the misunderstood elements of presidential elections - the Electoral College. Using easy to understand language, the moderator explains the...more
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This 5 minute YouTube video explores one of the misunderstood elements of presidential elections - the Electoral College. Using easy to understand language, the moderator explains the role of the Electoral College and how the popular vote translates into votes in the Electoral College. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): elections (75), electoral college (16)

In the Classroom

View this video together on an interactive whiteboard to illustrate the impact of the Electoral College voting on the election of the US President, both today and in the past. Alternatively, embed it in your class web page for the duration of your elections unit. Have students create their own "in plain English" video about a topic in government and share them using a tool such as SchoolTube, reviewed here. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to compare and contrast differences between the popular vote and Electoral College votes. Add questions to this video for students to explore further using a tool such as EdPuzzle (reviewed here).

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Rock the Vote - Jeff Ayeroff

Grades
8 to 12
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Rock the Vote is a non-profit organization dedicated to getting young people out to vote. Their home page includes information for voters across the country about voter registration,...more
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Rock the Vote is a non-profit organization dedicated to getting young people out to vote. Their home page includes information for voters across the country about voter registration, where to vote, and election information. Other links direct you to contact information for local and national elected officials. Are you registered to vote? It's easy to find out through Rock the Vote, enter your address and date of birth and find out your registration status.

tag(s): elections (75), politics (99)

In the Classroom

Include a link to Rock the Vote on your class web page for eligible students to access voter registration and other information. Include Rock the Vote as part of any election unit. Have students learn about the latest voting news, explore requirements for voter registration, and discover reasons why it is important to be part of the voting process. Have students create an annotated image including text boxes and related links describing the voter registration process for your state using a tool such as ThingLink, reviewed here.

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Newsela - Students Vote 2016 - Matthew Gross

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4 to 12
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Create informed citizens and voters with Newsela's Student's Vote 2016. At their reading level, students learn about the candidates and vote in the "student primary." Newsela publishes...more
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Create informed citizens and voters with Newsela's Student's Vote 2016. At their reading level, students learn about the candidates and vote in the "student primary." Newsela publishes high-interest news articles, from the best news sources, at five reading levels. See the TeachersFirst review here.
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tag(s): elections (75), news (261), newspapers (94), reading comprehension (116)

In the Classroom

If you haven't already, sign up for Newsela and create your class. Add students by using a teacher (or parent) provided code rather than an email address. Go to the Election Text Sets and assign reading-level specific articles to individual students, or download printable PDF copies of the article in any of its reading level versions. Be sure to set up a time for your students to vote on election day.

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Channel One News: One Vote - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company

Grades
3 to 12
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Channel One News: One Vote is sure to appeal to and educate young readers. They will meet candidates, and learn how the election process works through engaging videos, infographics,...more
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Channel One News: One Vote is sure to appeal to and educate young readers. They will meet candidates, and learn how the election process works through engaging videos, infographics, and interactive pages. Find a delegate tracker and a field guide to the candidates (both interactive), a Presidential Trail Calendar and Results, information about One Vote's mock election, and more. Scrolling towards the bottom of the landing page you will find 60-second wrap-ups for each week, two quizzes about the importance of voting and where you stand, and various articles.
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tag(s): elections (75), news (261)

In the Classroom

Make sure your students know what the U.S. primaries are about and why voting is so important. Use an interactive whiteboard or projector to introduce One Vote to students. Set up a link on class computers, or at a learning center for students to take the two quizzes. They can learn about why each ballot counts and find a match to the candidate they lean towards. This will help them see where they stand on issues like taxes, immigration, and climate change. Each week show the 60-second wrap up and hold a discussion. Consider using a tool like TodaysMeet, reviewed here, so the quiet and shy students have a chance to participate in the discussion, too. View the information about mock elections to see if you would like to set one up for your class or school. Put a link to this site on your class webpage for students to use at home.
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PBS Election Central - PBS Learning Media

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3 to 12
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Stay up to date with current elections and learn about the electoral process with this all-inclusive site from PBS Learning. Take virtual field trips to the floor of Congress and ...more
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Stay up to date with current elections and learn about the electoral process with this all-inclusive site from PBS Learning. Take virtual field trips to the floor of Congress and Presidential Libraries to explore historical themes. Follow the election process with the interactive map to track candidates as they campaign across the country. Other content examines the election process and takes an inside look at the debates. Be sure to check out the Election Collection containing several activities such as Inside the Voting Booth and You're the Campaign Manager.

tag(s): debate (41), elections (75), electoral college (16), presidents (131), speech (92)

In the Classroom

Include Election Central as part of any election unit. Have students research candidate information and compare and contrast points of view. Use an online tool such as the Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, or the Interactive Three Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here. Pose a controversial question about an election issue and have students answer as one of the candidates. Use a tool such as WeJIT, reviewed here, for that exercise. Or, challenge students to use Fakebook, reviewed here, to create a "fake" page similar in style to Facebook about a candidate's journey through the election process. Or, using Fakebook, have two candidates debate an issue. Be sure to take advantage of the free lesson plans offered on this site correlated to National History Standards.
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Hip Hughes History - Keith Hughes

Grades
8 to 12
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This YouTube channel offers over 300 videos for U.S. and World History, current events, political science, and American Government. Other videos teach test taking and essay writing...more
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This YouTube channel offers over 300 videos for U.S. and World History, current events, political science, and American Government. Other videos teach test taking and essay writing skills. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): china (66), classroom management (135), constitution (79), elections (75), foreign policy (16), politics (99), presidents (131), russia (38)

In the Classroom

Show videos on an interactive whiteboard or projector to your class as an introduction to a new unit or class discussion. Flip your lesson and assign videos for students to view at home or in the computer lab and discuss questions at the next class meeting. Prep for this by asking questions during the video using Comment Bubble, reviewed here. Use the videos as a springboard for engaging writing prompts or to spark a discussion connected with a unit of study. Have students create a simple infographic with information learned from videos using Easel.ly, reviewed here. Be sure to check out some of the classroom management tips and advice for new teachers for some fresh ideas to use in your classroom!

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Smart Voter - League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Grades
8 to 12
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Smart Voter provides nonpartisan information about elections and voting. Information includes lists of upcoming elections and ballot issues as well as candidate information. Enter your...more
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Smart Voter provides nonpartisan information about elections and voting. Information includes lists of upcoming elections and ballot issues as well as candidate information. Enter your address to view your polling place and voter registration information. Individual candidates provide bio information, and it is not checked for accuracy, it is, however, reviewed to make sure content does not refer to opposing candidates.

tag(s): elections (75)

In the Classroom

Include Smart Voter as part of any election unit. Have students research candidate information and compare and contrast points of view. Have students create an annotated image including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Thinglink, reviewed here, to present information about candidates or ballot topics.

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Flackcheck - Annenberg Classroom

Grades
8 to 12
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Discover and learn how to recognize flaws in political arguments and advertisements with Flackcheck. Browse the Video Wire to find fact checks on viral emails, the latest videos, and...more
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Discover and learn how to recognize flaws in political arguments and advertisements with Flackcheck. Browse the Video Wire to find fact checks on viral emails, the latest videos, and recent speeches and debates. Choose the Patterns of Deception to take an in-depth look at the art of deception in many current political debates. Other portions of the site explore the Lincoln/McClellan election of 1864, election of 2012, Affordable Care Act, and more. Some of the videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): advertising (33), elections (75), politics (99)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Ask your students to visit the site and create a multimedia presentation with the information they learn. Take advantage of the free lesson plan to include with your election unit. This site is excellent for enrichment. Post a link to FlackCheck on your class web page for students to access both in and out of class. Have students use StepUp.io, reviewed here, to grab other examples of patterns of deception from online video sources such as YouTube or Dailymotion quickly and easily. Have students create a word cloud of commonly used deceptive words using a tool such as Wordle, reviewed here, or WordItOut, reviewed here.
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PBS Newshour Extra - PBS NewsHour Productions LLC

Grades
7 to 12
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Find news and resources for grades 7-12 at PBS Newshour Extra. Search the site by Subject Area, Videos, Arts and Media, Science, and more. Explore news articles written for students...more
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Find news and resources for grades 7-12 at PBS Newshour Extra. Search the site by Subject Area, Videos, Arts and Media, Science, and more. Explore news articles written for students with the background and context needed to understand complex topics. The Daily Videos are ad-free and have related stories along the right side of the page. Read the current events news stories and follow the Extra Twitter feed. Don't miss the many free lesson plans including current events, American history, health, government, holidays, and more. Lesson plans are all aligned to the Common Core standards. Lesson plan topics vary from "Personal reflections on the poetry of Maya Angelou" to "Selma to Montgomery: An introduction to the 1965 marches" and countless others! Look for the Student Voices and Student Reporting Labs for those who would like to be published or to help a local PBS station produce the news.
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tag(s): civil rights (117), elections (75), holocaust (39), memorial day (13), news (261), poetry (228), video (254), women (101)

In the Classroom

Watch the news together on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Allow students to watch independently on laptops or at a learning station. Use any video or article as a current events writing prompt. Challenge students to create blog posts about them using Throwww, reviewed here. Throwww allows you to create "quick and easy" blog posts for one-time use only. Don't forget the many free lesson plans (already aligned to Common Core standards). Click on the Lesson Plans link to explore the countless topics available (Poetry, Veterans, Elections, Ebola, Civil Rights, and more). For articles and videos about conflicts and tension, you might want to have your students engage in a debate using a tool such as ProConIt, reviewed here. Keep your class up-to-date on the news using this site. Provide this link on your class website for students (and families) to access both in and out of your classroom.
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Teaching Literacy Through History - Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Grades
K to 12
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Meet your ELA standards as you teach history! Explore over 40 free lesson plans aligned to the Common Core Standards. Browse all lesson plans or use the search feature to ...more
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Meet your ELA standards as you teach history! Explore over 40 free lesson plans aligned to the Common Core Standards. Browse all lesson plans or use the search feature to find lessons by keywords or grade level. Every lesson contains all materials and procedures needed. Sign up for a free subscription using your school email address to access all information.

tag(s): american revolution (86), bill of rights (28), black history (59), civil rights (117), columbus day (11), constitution (79), elections (75), electoral college (16), franklin (12), gettysburg (26), lincoln (86), roosevelt (16), symbols (19), terrorism (49), thanksgiving (37), washington (36), world war 1 (54), world war 2 (142)

In the Classroom

Use ideas from the lesson plans to supplement your current teaching materials. Have students create a simple infographic sharing their learning from the notes they took during the lesson. Use Easel.ly, reviewed here, or Venngage, reviewed here. Challenge students to find a photo that represents a part of the lesson taught. Have students create a multimedia presentation using UtellStory, reviewed here. This tool allows narrating and adding text to a picture. Use Creative Commons images (with credit, of course). Try Compfight, reviewed here.
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Patchwork Nation - Jefferson Institute

Grades
9 to 12
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Is the US a melting pot? A tossed salad? The Jefferson Institute suggests it is a "Patchwork Nation." This site was originally developed to chronicle the 2008 US Presidential election,...more
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Is the US a melting pot? A tossed salad? The Jefferson Institute suggests it is a "Patchwork Nation." This site was originally developed to chronicle the 2008 US Presidential election, but has been maintained and updated since that time. It presents the vast diversity of the United States using demographic data and categorizing communities into one of a dozen community types. With names like "Campus and Careers," "Military Bastions," and "Evangelical Epicenters" each community type represents an important subset of what makes up the American Experience. This site drills down much deeper than the typical red state/blue state dichotomy and challenges us to think about what characteristics work to define US citizens.

tag(s): branches of government (48), census (19), communities (35), democracy (12), demographics (19), politics (99)

In the Classroom

This site could be useful in a variety of classroom settings. A sociology class might grapple with the generalizations inherent in each of the 12 community types. What does it mean to be a "Tractor Country" community? The associated charts and demographics can help prove or disprove those theories. A government class might consider the impact of these different community types all existing within one Congressional district. How might that legislator best represent those communities at the State level or the Federal level? An economics class might speculate on the distribution of wealth in the US. What factors influence that distribution? A US History class could speculate about how these different communities have come to be. What impact has immigration had? Industrialization? Geography? Are there regional differences that could stem from the Civil War? And a statistics class would find plenty of raw data to play around with. In a "Patchwork Nation," what does it mean to be "average"?
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Center for Civic Education - Center for Civic Education

Grades
5 to 12
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The Center for Civic Education offers this site loaded with information and resources that support the democratic process. Choose the resources tab to take advantage of many lesson...more
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The Center for Civic Education offers this site loaded with information and resources that support the democratic process. Choose the resources tab to take advantage of many lesson plans for all grade levels on topics such as President's Day, voting, Women's History Month, and many more. Choose the More Lesson Plans link to see a list of all lessons sorted by grade levels from K-12. Another interesting portion of the site is found at the media tab. Choose from video or photo galleries or the 60 Second Civics option. 60 Second Civics is a daily podcast accompanied with a short question. Previous podcasts are archived for access at your convenience. Subscribe with iTunes or Podcast Alley or visit the page to listen.
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tag(s): branches of government (48), civil rights (117), constitution (79), democracy (12), elections (75), electoral college (16), lincoln (86), martin luther king (37), presidents (131), sept11 (21), washington (36)

In the Classroom

Share a link to the podcasts via your web page or blog. Have students answer the daily question then respond with a short journal entry or with comments on your webpage. Use lesson resources to supplement your current curriculum or commemorate events such as 9/11, MLK Day, Presidents Day, or Constitution Day. View videos on your interactive whiteboard (or projector). Assign videos to groups of students to view then report to the class. Rather than a traditional report, challenge cooperative learning groups to collaborate on a topic found on the site using Titanpad reviewed here to share ideas and information.
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AllSides - John Gable

Grades
4 to 12
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Look at political, national and international issues from all sides: left, right, and center. Colored banners identify the perspective. Current content focuses on political discussions,...more
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Look at political, national and international issues from all sides: left, right, and center. Colored banners identify the perspective. Current content focuses on political discussions, but as the site evolves the plan is to include other topics such as health care, finances, and parenting. Find other specific topics by choosing the issues tab, then choosing from keywords such as energy, taxes, or violence in America. Choose from different tabs to view issues, bias, and the site's blog. Especially interesting is the bias section. Users rate their own bias on several issues to determine their bias toward left, center, or right. Email signup is available to become involved with the site but isn't necessary to access all of the articles and content.
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tag(s): elections (75), media literacy (58), politics (99)

In the Classroom

This is an excellent site to easily find topics presented from various points of view. Use articles with students to demonstrate point of view in writing, bias in media, or for students to use as points for debates. Use an online tool such as Interactive Three Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, to create a visual comparison of different points of view.

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National Mock Election - National Student/Parent Mock Election

Grades
3 to 12
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The My Voice National Student Mock Election is facilitating comprehensive online voting through a registration process. They are also providing curriculum resources for elementary through...more
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The My Voice National Student Mock Election is facilitating comprehensive online voting through a registration process. They are also providing curriculum resources for elementary through high school grade levels. Registration is optional. It provides access to online voting beginning in October (exact date will change yearly). Choose the curriculum link to find lesson plans with assessments, collaborative learning options, and handouts. Also click the Curriculum Resources link and then Educational Resources to find interactives, links to teacher resources, and current campaign advertisements.

tag(s): civil rights (117), constitution (79), elections (75)

In the Classroom

Use this website to enlighten your students about the election process. The website can be used anytime (not just during the election season). Use the open-ended questions provided as writing prompts for students to write in their journals or class blog. Have students create online posters on paper or do it together as a class using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard (reviewed here) to display responses to prompts. Generate ideas for a related research project--or simply have students create a quick "concept collection" of what they learn about elections by making word clouds using Word It Out reviewed here.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Connect the Dots for Democracy - Witte Design, LLC

Grades
8 to 12
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Address important issues about government policy through the use of infographics with the goal of uncomplicating things for "busy folks like yourself." Government policy discussions...more
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Address important issues about government policy through the use of infographics with the goal of uncomplicating things for "busy folks like yourself." Government policy discussions are increasingly dominated by the media, and each side of the debate spends as much time trying to "spin" the discussion as it does simply communicating the facts. The graphics on this site are extremely well presented. Choose from among several important issues: Jobs, the Deficit, Health Care, Political Language, and the Federal Budget. Each topic includes a slideshow of infographics, a written script to accompany the slides, questions for discussion, and the ability to print a booklet that includes the graphics and text highlights.

What's missing? There is no audio recording of the script that could accompany the slides; you must print the script and read it while viewing the slides. And, despite its goal of "making it simple" for busy folks, you have to dig a little in the site to discover that the author is firmly in the "Progressive" political camp, and that the presentation on Health Care, for example, includes one section on "GOP Myths" and repeatedly slams the Republican party's handling of the health care crisis. To its credit, the sources for the information presented on the graphics are cited. Be aware also that the graphics use language like "We're Getting Screwed!" which may be inappropriate for younger kids.

tag(s): branches of government (48), congress (33), elections (75), media literacy (58), politics (99)

In the Classroom

The infographic presentations would be great for discussions of election-year politics for Civics/Government classes or Current Events debate. They would be better if the accompanying scripts were available in an audio file. Exercise caution, however, because there is clearly a political agenda here. Ironic that a site that purports to cut through the rhetoric is loaded with its own. Use it, therefore, as yet another example of how a savvy media can "spin" the issues. Invite students to look for the bias inherent in some of the information presented. What questions should be asked about the data contained in the slideshow? How could you verify the information? How would you rebut it with your own infographic? Can you find a site that presents an opposing spin on the same topics?

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U.S. Political Conventions and Campaigns - Northeastern University

Grades
4 to 12
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Learn all about U.S. political campaigns and party conventions. Five main sections explain it all: History, Campaign Finance, Nominations, Policy, and Media. Within each section are...more
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Learn all about U.S. political campaigns and party conventions. Five main sections explain it all: History, Campaign Finance, Nominations, Policy, and Media. Within each section are videos and articles about the current state of affairs as well as past practices. Each section offers lesson plans suitable for high school use. The sections also offer short review quizzes that provide instant feedback. Scroll through each section in order or choose from portions with links at the top of the section.

tag(s): elections (75), electoral college (16)

In the Classroom

Although lesson plans are geared to high school, this site is also useful for students in lower grades. Go directly to the quiz portion of each section, display on your interactive whiteboard, and take the quiz as a class as an overview of what students know about the election process. View sections on your interactive whiteboard to help students understand the different facets of a campaign. Assign students (or groups) different sections; then have them present information learned to their classmates. Create posters about the American political process using a tool such as Web Poster Wizard, reviewed here.

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PolitiFact: Sorting out the truth in politics - St. Petersburg Times

Grades
6 to 12
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Politicians are legendary for their ability to "spin" or manipulate the facts in their own favor. This site seeks to cut through the jargon and the partisan spin to evaluate ...more
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Politicians are legendary for their ability to "spin" or manipulate the facts in their own favor. This site seeks to cut through the jargon and the partisan spin to evaluate statements made by politicians, using their "Truth-o-Meter." Although the interface is light-hearted (using a scale that runs from True, Barely True, False, and "Pants on Fire"), the facts are well researched and presented.

tag(s): advertising (33), elections (75), politics (99)

In the Classroom

This site is a great resource for students researching politicians and their viewpoints. If you're sponsoring a class debate, keep the site handy for each side to check the assertions of their opponents. When students have questions about the content of political advertising, for example, refer them here to find out more. As an assignment, consider having the class pick a political ad, and using the information on this site, write about how the creator of the ad selected the facts that would best portray the viewpoint of the candidate. They could share their critique on a class wiki or on a classroom bulletin board. Have groups create a "mythbuster" political poster on ThingLink, reviewed here.

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