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September 28, 2016

United States Presidential Election [& a freebie!]

Okay, I went there. I feel like this year the presidential election is the elephant in the room. It is a hot topic in the United States. I promise to not get too political on you! The fact is our students look up to us and value our opinions. During the 2012 election with Obama and Romney it was very interesting in my classroom. I could tell parents were talking about the election in front of their kiddos and it trickled down to my classroom in the form of "Who are you voting for?" "Are you a Republican?" "My mom said...". Oh yeah, I am sure you all had the same experience. And I was teaching Kindergarten!

What does this tell us?

Well for one, that these two people will be talked about in the homes of our students. Our students are exposed to these political commercials. That, well lets be honest, information may not be portrayed accurately. The beginning of the school year is the time you bond with your students and build their trust. You job as a teacher is to help them grow in many aspects. Now, I am not telling you to go into your classroom and discuss your opinion of politics! NOPE. Do not do it. Don't get that personal. There is a reason that people do not discuss religion and politics. We JUST CAN'T do it. And really, is it a fight you want to take on all by yourself? I agree with you. We need to speak up for changes to happen! But, there is a time and a place.

So WHAT do I teach my students?

Good question. The facts. You stick to the facts. If you are teaching older students you can examine both sides of the debates. But not with our little ones. SO I decided to help you out! I truly believe that this needs to be discussed in our classrooms, but in an appropriate way. That's why I created this product.

A big part about this election is teaching my students to look further than the commercials or what they hear around them. Below I share two great resources to help them do that.

In case you missed this freebie in the Teachers Pay Teachers Newsletter:
The Wise Guys put together a great list of Dos and Don'ts. They have also included a parent letter to send home. Check it out here.

Resources for Upper Elementary/High School

Teaching Tolerance is one of my favorite resources. They have been very helpful by creating a location for their resources. You can find them here.

The NY Times has a election unit for teachers that help students to further investigate. Their goal is the same as all educators, to have our students back up their opinions with evidence.

This year I am teaching 5th grade and they have be dialoguing about Trump and Clinton since the first week of school. Since I teach Social Studies I will be taking the first week of October to get my students to really find their evidence to their opinions. Click here to see what I will be using from the NY Times.

My 5th Grade Lessons

Before I begin any instruction in regards to the election process I am very explicit with my students that they are to leave their bias at the door. The election this year is already impacting our students and my role is to educate them on the facts.

We then view the Kid President video on How to Disagree. It is a great reminder for students on how to speak to one another. (P.S. read about how to remove ads from youtube - tips from The Brown Bag Teacher)

I have students complete the anticipation guide prior to discussing any part of the election process.

Click here to download the anticipation guide that I utilized with my classes. I also had my students read and respond to The Road to the White House, I have provided these questions for you as well!

Scholastic has a fantastic collection of materials/videos for the election process. You can find them here.

Presidential Candidate Election Report

I created this product around my other Famous People products and my Presidenital Report. I kept it neutral and kid friendly. So much of it can be left up the teacher to decide which direction it can take.(Please note - This product includes only the Democrat and Republican Candidates. Green Party Candidate is Jill Stein and Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Candidate.)

KWL Charts

Even if this is the ONLY thing you do with your class - it is a step in the right direction! (in my opinion). Safe and to the point. However, you may decide to complete this as a whole group and rephrase comments from your students. Remember - just the facts.  

Research Report

Again there are multiple ways you can have your students complete this. For my President's Day report I give students one president to research about. They then come back and share with the class what they learned. 

Gage your school community and family relationships to make the best decision for your class.

Compare and Contrast

Finally, work with your students to complete the Venn Diagram. Older students may choose to discuss political standings. With your primary students you could stick with their background: growing up, education, and so on.

Flip Book
This flip book will be a great addition for upper elementary classrooms. 

This flip book is designed to have your students gain additional knowledge in numerous aspects of the election process. Your students will build upon their knowledge of the election process in the United States as well as the numerous political parties. Students will research the stances of the Democratic and Republican Candidates on key issues. They will also gain additional knowledge on the history of the White House and the Electoral College.

Assessment FREEBIE

After our lessons on the process to be coming president I assess my students on their knowledge. I utilize this quiz and study guide below. For a bonus question I will ask my students which animal is a symbol for each respective party, and why. You can view the information here.

I am including this quiz as a freebie. Even if you do not use it with your students, it is a good guide for you as a teacher on the areas you can begin discussing with your students. 

My Soapbox

At the end of the day you need to do what is best for your class. But I hope you will guide an intellectual conversation with your students. I truly believe that we need to discuss the "hard topics" in our classrooms because it may not be happening at home or parents may not know how to address it. When we became teachers we took on a lot more than just teaching academics. Everything you do this school year with your students will resonate with them and be a part of who they are in the years ahead. 

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