I will never forget the day after the 2016 election.
I’ve discussed how burnt out I was that year, trying to keep up with all of the news, integrate it into my classroom, and make sure my students learned the assigned curriculum. You can see in the picture; some students have an electoral college map open as they prepare for: Electoral Dysfunction- Structured Academic Controversy: National Election System? We had watched the video in class and were preparing arguments. We changed the plans a bit that day because it was what was needed. I learned a lot that day, and it changed my teaching.
My neighboring teacher (who is the AP Macro teacher) and I decided we needed to meet with students to listen, model civil discourse, and answer questions they have. Some students were happy with the results; some were scared; some were angry. No matter the student, we needed to address it to reestablish community norms and continue to learn. How they felt was valid and they needed to know that it was ok to ask the questions they needed to.
This year, it’s prudent to have a plan. Understanding how you want your classes to go after is critical. Trust me.
Take the day like a political scientist, if that is helpful. Collect the data. Continue to ask questions. Create a space that allows them to explore without the noise of everyday.
Lessons ideas for after the election:
- Compare and contrast news outlets’ headlines. What do you notice? iCivics does an EXCELLENT job of this in its lessons and games. Sometimes, a game is the best way to use your class time. Win the White House is a great one too!
- Watch Electoral Dysfunction! It covers so many different topics! And it’s free to stream.
- Review different models of voting behavior and have students find examples from social media. Pew Research often has models and graphs for this. Examples of political models explaining voting behavior include:
- Rational choice—Voting based on what is perceived to be in the citizen’s individual interest
- Retrospective voting—Voting to decide whether the party or candidate in power should be reelected based on the recent past
- Prospective voting—Voting based on predictions of how a party or candidate will perform in the future
- Party-line voting—Supporting a party by voting for candidates from one political party for all public offices at the same level of government
- Discuss factors influencing voters choices. Factors influencing voter choice include:
- Party identification and ideological orientation
- Candidate characteristics
- Contemporary political issues
- Religious beliefs or affiliation, gender, race and ethnicity, and other demographic characteristics
- Create a thesis that explains how the Electoral College facilitates and/or impedes democracy. Students can use current counts and discuss winner take all or Nebraska/Maine’s way of doing it. Use the Bill of Rights Institute’s Homework Help and the National Constitution Center podcast on it.
One more thing to consider:
After the Presidential debates and town halls, asking students to watch the election results as an assignment may not be the way to go. If students want to? Great, establish an extended learning opportunity. This election has brought up a lot of things that not all students want or need to discuss in a classroom. Be mindful of those things. You are the expert in your classroom and your students.
“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” Abraham Lincoln
Need more ideas? Check out my post on election resources!