Challenge your American Government / Civics students to research ballot measure initiatives and candidates running for office, compare political party platforms, and explore issues like voter turnout, the history of voting rights, and local voter registration and election laws in this collaborative & primary source-based PBL unit.
Featured Critical Thinking Skills
- Annotate and analyze news media sources including articles, data graphs, and editorials
- Paraphrase and evaluate formal sources like Federalists Papers, the Constitution, and official party platforms
- Work collaboratively in small groups to understand voting issues and made decisions
- Write concise analytical writing utilizing evidence and evaluating sources
Highly scaffolded, basic critical thinking and source skill building, perfect for the fall leading up to the November election!
2 Culminating, Summative Assessments
- Document-based essay,
supported by a wide variety of real world editorials, outline template, sentence stems, and rubrics, that requires them to encapsulate their understanding of the entire unit by arguing their answer to the not-so-simple question, “Is voting an American responsibility, right, or privilege?”
- Mock election,
supported by research-based activities exploring current candidates running for office, ballot measures, and political party platforms
honoring and desiring to be a contributing member of one’s representative democracy.
Nothing is more real, more current, or more urgent than preparing your students to be citizens in the current election, regardless if they are 18 or not, regardless if it is a big election year or not.
Multiple studies have proven that when teenagers participate in voting, even a mock election, not only do their parents have a higher voter turnout in the real election, but the habit of voting is formed, making them far more likely to become regular voters as adults than if they have no exposure to the act of voting.
Don’t let your students be on the wrong side of the abysmal voter turnout statistics that mark every election.
Leave the boring government textbook behind and take your students straight to the real world with primary sources, news editorials, data graphs, official campaign websites, and civil discourse with each other.
The beauty of a thematic unit like this is your freedom to mix-and-match, add-and-subtract: each activity is self-contained, allowing for complete customization to meet local standards, time restraints, and interests. Even better, you'll be able to download annual updated resources year-after-year for free!
This unit can be done well in anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.
Included in this complete unit:
- Unit overview and 6 pages of detailed daily lesson plans from the unit hook to the final assessment
- Graphic organizer and concept definition sheet for unit-long student note taking
6 Voting 101 Mini-Lessons
- Self-contained, one class period collaborative activities
- Timeline Match-Up:
work in teams to determine when groups of Americans received the right to vote
- Citizen Quote Speed Dating:
mingle around hearing a wide variety of wise words on what being a citizen means
- Important Issues Rank:
work in pairs to decide what issues are most important this election and compare them to a Pew Research Center survey
- Voter Turnout Graphs:
study and peer-teach various data graphs that explore the complex issue of low voter turnout in U.S. elections
- Voting Requirements:
work in teams to uncover all the laws regarding how to vote in your county and state
- Voting Around the World:
examine and compare election day photos and voting laws from other nations
6 Main Activities
- 1 to 3 class period lessons, easily tailor-able to your current ballot and state’s laws
- Intro Brainstorm:
pull incoming knowledge of the key concepts- voting, responsibility, right, privilege
- Going to the Source:
analyze the words of Founding Fathers and the Constitution on voting in America
- Ballot Measure Debate:
research your choice of initiative(s) on the upcoming ballot, then engage in an interactive debate that will activate your kinesthetic and quieter students alike
- Party Platform Comparison:
analyze and compare preambles as well as positions on specific issues in an interactive, student-created gallery walk
- Candidate Research:
familiarize with your choice of candidate(s) on the upcoming ballot utilizing a wide variety of voter informational materials
- Editorial Analysis:
analyze a variety of published editorials addressing the unit’s driving question to see models of quality argumentative writing and various positions to take on the issue
2 Summative Assessments
- “Is voting an American responsibility, right, or privilege?" DBQ essay outline, writing sheets, and rubric sheets (CCSS and generic)
- Mock Election (ideas and suggestions provided to tailor your own!)
- Answer Keys for activities
- 3 Skill Sheets: Annotating a Text, TASTED News Media Analysis, Citation Annotated
Only have a week or two? Try these mini-unit versions!
- Ballot Measure Initiative Research & Letter to the Editor Project
- Party Platform & Candidate Research Project
- Voting 101 Activity 6-Pack