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April 2, 2012

Three Activities for Understanding the Electoral College

By Jeremy Rinkel
Grades 6–8, 9–12

    The primaries for the Republican nomination for president are well under way, and the 2012 election is coming up fast. An integral part of our election process, the electoral college has remained in place since it was created by our founding fathers. The need for an electoral college has been a highly debated topic, especially in the last couple of elections. This post will focus on three activities designed to help students understand what the electoral college is and why it is important to the election process.

    Large Group Discussion

    During our large group discussion, we discuss what the electoral college is and why it was established. My students see the reason it was established, but question why the electoral college still exists. To start our research we consult a brief article from Scholastic entitled "How the Electoral College Works." Another great resource is from the New York Times election 2012 education page. This resource provides various lesson plans and activities surrounding the whole election process, and includes resources specifically for teaching about the electoral college.

    Small Group Research

    After the large group discussion, students are separated into two groups. One group focuses on arguments for keeping the electoral college. The other group focuses on arguments for abolishing the electoral college. Below are a couple of Web resources discussing the electoral college.

    I came across a wonderful Web site called Scoop.it! that allows users to bookmark Web sites related to a topic and create something similar to an online magazine. I created an electoral college Scoop.it! for the Web sites I want my students to visit.

    Debate

    I’ve had several debates in my classes since becoming a teacher. Some have been horrible, but others have turned out to be great. Make sure students understand that debating is not arguing, and emphasize that thorough research must be completed.

    After the research has been completed, students begin preparing for the debate. Each member of each group is assigned a particular issue or question to focus on. Each person organizes their argument using a number of resources such as this debate handout from Plymouth State University. This resource discusses the procedures for having a classroom debate. For more on the subject, see Brent Vasicek's post "Debates and Higher Order Thinking." After debating the pros and the cons of the electoral college, students will have a much clearer understanding of what happens every four years when we elect our president.

    The primaries for the Republican nomination for president are well under way, and the 2012 election is coming up fast. An integral part of our election process, the electoral college has remained in place since it was created by our founding fathers. The need for an electoral college has been a highly debated topic, especially in the last couple of elections. This post will focus on three activities designed to help students understand what the electoral college is and why it is important to the election process.

    Large Group Discussion

    During our large group discussion, we discuss what the electoral college is and why it was established. My students see the reason it was established, but question why the electoral college still exists. To start our research we consult a brief article from Scholastic entitled "How the Electoral College Works." Another great resource is from the New York Times election 2012 education page. This resource provides various lesson plans and activities surrounding the whole election process, and includes resources specifically for teaching about the electoral college.

    Small Group Research

    After the large group discussion, students are separated into two groups. One group focuses on arguments for keeping the electoral college. The other group focuses on arguments for abolishing the electoral college. Below are a couple of Web resources discussing the electoral college.

    I came across a wonderful Web site called Scoop.it! that allows users to bookmark Web sites related to a topic and create something similar to an online magazine. I created an electoral college Scoop.it! for the Web sites I want my students to visit.

    Debate

    I’ve had several debates in my classes since becoming a teacher. Some have been horrible, but others have turned out to be great. Make sure students understand that debating is not arguing, and emphasize that thorough research must be completed.

    After the research has been completed, students begin preparing for the debate. Each member of each group is assigned a particular issue or question to focus on. Each person organizes their argument using a number of resources such as this debate handout from Plymouth State University. This resource discusses the procedures for having a classroom debate. For more on the subject, see Brent Vasicek's post "Debates and Higher Order Thinking." After debating the pros and the cons of the electoral college, students will have a much clearer understanding of what happens every four years when we elect our president.

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