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 inquiry-driven, primary source-based PBL unit that asks, “Is voting an American a responsibility, right, or privilege?”
By the end of this unit, your students will be able to:
- 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 to understand voting issues and make careful decisions
- Demonstrate mastery through an extended document-based essay and an authentic project
Highly scaffolded, basic critical thinking and source skill building, perfect for the fall leading up to the November election!
Culminate learning with:
- Document-Based Essay,
by supporting your students with a wide variety of real-world sources, review activity, 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 a responsibility, right, or privilege?”
- Mock Election,
by guiding students through careful, balanced research to arrive at educated decisions, preparing them to become real-life voters as adults.
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, they are more likely to vote as adults
; additionally, their parents have a higher voter turnout in that year's election. Be the cause of this highest form of civic engagement!
This year, let’s leave the way-out-of-date government textbook behind
and take students straight to the front-page news of today with primary sources, news articles and editorials, data graphs, and official campaign websites to make their learning memorable.
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 At-A-Glance and 6 pages of detailed daily lesson plans from the unit hook to the final assessment for you
- Graphic organizer and concept definition sheet for unit-long note taking for your students
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 a responsibility, right, or privilege?" DBQ essay
with review activity, detailed outline form, writing sheets, and rubric sheets (CCSS and generic)
- Mock Election
with ideas and suggestions included to create a ballot tailored to your local election
- Supplemental editable PowerPoint file with of images, student directions, and links
- Answer Keys and Rubrics for activities
- 2 Skill Sheet Handouts: Annotating a Text, Analyzing News Media Sources
Note to Homeschoolers
Though the included teacher lesson plans are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this resource is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:
- the inquiry, thematic structure
of this unit is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
- a wide age and ability range
can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
- your student’s voice is central
to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
- activities can be completed independently
and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
- all utilized sources are free and easily obtainable;
either included or accessible online (links provided)
- this unit is independent of a textbook
, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
- any activity can easily be left out to customize
for your student’s skill level or personal interest
Want to try the mini-unit version of this?
Ballot Measure Initiative Research & Letter to the Editor Project Mini Unit
Party Platform & Candidate Research Mock Election Project Mini Unit
Voting 101 Activity 6-Pack
Want more American Government / Civics resources?
3 Branches Unit
contrast how the federal government works in theory and in practice
Judicial Branch & Bill of Rights Unit
determine exactly how our rights translates into daily American life
Citizenship Test & Op-Ed Project
make citizens out of your students with this semester-long project
Political Service Project
make community members out of your students with this semester-long project
Constitutional Issues Research Paper Project
end with a highly-scaffolded, college-ready research paper
Want the whole semester AND save big?
American Government / Civics MEGA Bundle
get the whole course at once!