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Challenge your Civics and Government students to research this year's candidates running for office, to compare political party platforms, and to explore perennial 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 a responsibility, a right, or a privilege?”
Designed specifically to be used in any election year- Presidential, mid-term, or an odd-year election!
This unit comes in two formats: print PDF and digital for Google Slides.
Greatness is being an informed and engaged constituent.
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 quite, regardless if it is a big election year or an "off" year.
Multiple studies have proven that when teenagers participate in the voting process, 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This year, let’s leave the way-out-of-date government textbook behind and prepare students for this year's election with primary sources, news articles and editorials, data graphs, and official campaign websites to make their learning memorable.
The strength of an inquiry, thematic unit like this is your ability to immediately make abstract concepts into intriguing and relevant lessons: each engaging activity builds towards the unit's driving question with its own focused question and has students exploring real campaign materials and current issues.
This unit can be done well in anywhere from 3-5 weeks and supports the standards of various states, including Texas, Florida, New York, and California.
Included in this complete unit:
- Teacher Unit Overview with general notes, links, standards, and a pacing guide
- Daily Lesson Plans with step-by-step details, planning, and lesson takeaway notes
- Detailed Answer Keys for each activity
- Student Unit Review and Skills handouts with self-checking questions and "I Can..." statements
- Student Unit Notes sheet for building deep and nuanced mastery of concepts over the course of the unit using powerful graphic organizers
- Student Skill Handouts that include Analyzing News Media Sources, Analyzing Political Cartoons, Deciding a Precise Position, Constructing a Thesis, Including Evidence
- Voting Rights Timeline Match-Up hook students in with this eye-opener collaborative activity to match the year Americans got their right to vote
- Responsibility, Right, and Privilege Brainstorm deeply consider the meaning of each of these concepts and their differences
- Voting Rights Podcast Notes provide an overview with an engaging Civics 101 episode on the history of voting rights in America
- Going to the Source analyze Federalist Papers' excerpts and Constitutional amendments about voting
- Voting Requirements research the laws, methods, and deadlines to voting in your state and compare different methods used across the country like mail-in voting
- Party Lines map out the red and blueness of America, reflecting on how these labels are oversimplified
- Political Party Brainstorm assess incoming knowledge of five different parties and analyze each's platform preamble to guess to which party it belongs
- Party Platforms Posters research and share how each party believes various issues should be addressed
- Campaign Ads analyze and evaluate various flyers and commercials for persuasive devices
- Candidate Research explore campaign websites, voter pamphlet guides, and newspapers endorsements to learn about each candidate
- How We Vote provide an overview with an engaging Civics 101 episode on the history of Election Day and the actual act of voting
- Voter Turnout analyze various data charts on why some vote and some don't and who these people are
- Proposition Podcast Notes provide an overview with an engaging Civics 101 episode on the origins and role of ballot propositions
- Proposition Research & Discussion deep dive into one proposition on the upcoming ballot by examining and weighing supporting and opposing arguments
- Political Cartoon & News Media Analysis connect concepts to real-life current issues with these universal forms and analysis strategies, perfect for weaving in a few throughout the unit
2 Summative Assessments
- End-of-Unit Essay support your students with a collaborative brainstorm review activity, detailed instructions, outline template, sentence stems, and rubrics, that encapsulates their complete understanding by arguing their answer to the not-so-simple question, “Is voting an American a responsibility, right, or privilege?” (step-by-step PPT slides included!)
- Mock Election Project after guiding students through careful, balanced research, preparing them to become real-life voters as adults (editable ballot file included!)
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 by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question
- a wide ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit,
- your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
- most 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 one activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest
Don't have time for a full unit? Try these kits.
Looking for more Civics & Government PBL units?
Foundations of American Democracy examine the principles and values on which our government is founded
Voting & Mock Election Unit explore a variety of voting issues; universal for any upcoming election
Three Branches Unit contrast how the federal government works in theory and in practice
Constitutional Rights Unit determine exactly how our rights translate into daily American life
Want to browse the full curriculum?
Civics to Empower Whole Course Bundle teach this inquiry-driven and project-based semester course with confidence!