An understanding of government requires an understanding of its partisan nature, so I start every year with a simple survey that helps students begin to understand what the two major political parties stand for. I have listed thirteen issues (taxation, gun control, abortion, pollution, etc.) and written out "traditional" Republican and Democratic points of view on these issues. The students choose the statements with which they mostly agree. Although this survey does not include the gray shades of the political spectrum, it serves as a jumping off point for a discussion of political parties, and it helps students begin to understand their own place in the world of partisan politics. It also provides essential background information that can be referenced (and built upon) throughout the school year. Page two of the worksheet asks students to reflect upon general characteristics of the parties.