The Electoral Process Lesson Plan: Choosing the President of the US

Submitted by: Gladys Tate

Grade Levels: 6-8

In this two-day electoral process lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 6 through 8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the full process of the presidential election. Students will analyze political beliefs and how they impact citizens’ lives and the outcome of elections. They will also compare and contrast the two major political parties, and describe the opportunities for and benefits of civic participation.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explain the full process of the Presidential Election
  2. Analyze political beliefs and how they impact citizens' lives and the outcome of elections
  3. Compare and contrast the two major political parties

Materials:

  • Internet access and projector
  • Handouts from BrainPOP (see preparation)
  • Student notebooks (interactive, if available)
  • 3 X 5 lined index cards

Vocabulary:

political party; primary election; electoral college; platform; Republican; Democrat; political affilation; polling/polls; impeachment; veto; checks and balances

Preparation:

Make copies of the Quiz, Activity, and Graphic Organizer.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Day One: How Do You Become President? - Engagement: Students will respond to the question in their (interactive) notebooks: What are the qualifications for a person to run for President of the United States? Students will have 5 minutes to brainstorm this ideas in their notebooks. After 5 minutes the class will openly discuss their responses.
  2. Explanation: Students will watch the BrainPOP movie Presidential Election.
  3. After watching the video, students will be directed to stand up at their desks. There will be four designated corners in the room (A, B, C, unsure). As a class the students will take the Practice Quiz. They will move to the corner that they think represents the best answer for themselves. When students pick their corner after a question, the teacher will click to see which one is correct. There is no penalty for wrong answers (this is just review and all students stay in the game throughout the entire quiz).
  4. Elaboration: Students will take a few short notes on the information presented in the video (ex., Electoral College and how many votes it takes to become president).
  5. Exploration: When finished, the class will 'popcorn' responses to the question: What issues do you hear adults talking about pertaining to this year's upcoming election? (Popcorn is an activity where students pop out of their seats to give a response in an orderly fashion. They do not have to raise their hand and wait to be called on.) The issues they raise will be recorded on the board.
  6. Evaluation: Students will complete an exit ticket and answer the following question: Which issue is the most important to you for a candidate to address and why? (This may be an issue that is not on our list on the board).
  7. Day Two: Political Beliefs and Platforms - Engagement: Students will take the re-take the Quiz from "Presidential Elections", this time in printed form for a grade. Students will exchange their papers and grade the quiz which will then be collected.
  8. Explanation: Students will recall yesterday's lesson where we discussed issues that have been mentioned on the campaign trails today and those issues students would like to see the candidates address. The class will identify the two candidates, their running mates, and their political affiliation for the upcoming Presidential election.
  9. Students will then watch the BrainPOP movie Political Beliefs. While watching the movie, students will answer questions on the Activity page.
  10. Exploration: Project the Graphs, Stats & Numbers from the FYI page of BrainPOP's "Political Parties" topic. Students will take the data given and create a chart or graph of their choice to display the data (bar graph, line graph, pie chart, etc).
  11. Evaluation: Students will write an Exit Ticket: Based on the movie and the data presented in your graphing activity, would you be more likely to register as a Democrat, Republican or Independent? Explain why.
  12. Homework: Finish your graph to be turned in tomorrow and survey ten adults: What is your political affiliation and why?
  13. Day Three: Voting Qualifications and How Voting Works - Engagement: The Comic from the FYI portion of BrainPOP Political Beliefs will be projected. In their (interactive) notebooks, students will respond to the following questions: Who are the two people you see in this cartoon? What do you believe is the job of the adult in the picture? Why do you think the girl responded the way she did? Do you believe that the election is important to her? Why or why not, and present evidence from the cartoon. After students have answered the questions we will discuss them as a class.
  14. Explanation: What do you think are the qualifications for someone to be able to vote? Students will be given a brief moment to think about the question and then watch the Voting movie.
  15. Exploration: As a class, look at the statistics provided by the US Census Bureau from the Activities on the FYI page. After reviewing the data, students will find a partner and discuss the following: What generalizations can you make about the people who voted in 2004? Provide evidence from the data to support your answer; Why do you believe some people voted and others did not? We will discuss a few of these responses in class. How have things changed since then? Encourage students to research or find statistics online together for th 2008 election.
  16. Evaluation: Students will be asked to write '2012 Presidential Election Predictions' based on the following questions: Which areas do you think will increase in the upcoming election? Why? Which do you think will decrease? Why? Provide numerical predictions for each category. This is to be completed in their (interactive) notebook.
  17. Homework: Complete the predictions chart if unfinished. Survey 15 to 25 adults; did you vote in the 2008 Presidential Election? If not, why not?
  18. Day Four: Powers of the President - Engagement: The FYI Comic will be projected for the students to view. In their (interactive) notebooks, students will answer the following question: What do you think is wrong with Cassie's thinking and why? We will discuss these as a class. Students will then brainstorm a list of things they would do if they were President of the United States. These responses will go into their (interactive) notebooks.
  19. Explanation: The teacher will open the discussion of what the President can really do once he/she is in office. Students will watch the BrainPOP movie Presidential Power. While watching the video, students will complete the Graphic Organizer on Presidential Powers from the activities page into their (interactive) notebooks.
  20. Exploration: As a class, we will discuss some of the items students said they would try and implement if they were President. Based on what we know, we will discuss whether the President has the power to implement each item.
  21. Evaluation: Exit Ticket: What would you like to see the new President change or do once he/she takes office?
  22. Day Five: Let's Play eLections - Engagement: Students will vote for two candidates to run for President out of the class. The rest of the class will be split into two groups to be each candidates' campaign team.
  23. Exploration: The class will play the Cable in the Classroom's eLECTIONS Game.