Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vote for Me! Elections Unit Study: Week 1

Welcome to the Vote for Me! Elections Unit Study week 1, in which we begin to develop our own campaigns! Last week was great. We figured out what the President does and learned a song naming all the Presidents. We learned about the reasons voting is useful, and about majority and minority. We learned about the electoral college and sang about it. We discussed voting rights and how our country's ideas of what is right have developed and changed over time. You can see last week's lesson here if you missed it. You're welcome to join in any time!

Here is the PDF for this week, containing the entire lesson:Vote for Me! Week 1: Let's Get This Party Started!

This week the fun really begins! As our students take their first steps toward defining themselves as candidates, we’ll need to be very positive and supportive of their ideas. Guide them toward understanding the process rather than focusing on specifics they’re coming up with. I guarantee that by the time they’re 35 and ready to be President, they will not still think that donuts are an important political issue.

Read-Along Teach-Along Sheet: Political Parties
It’s very hard to define the different political parties in a succinct way that’s both accurate and easily digestible by children. You may want to polish this section to suit your own tastes. My intention is to stay very positive about every candidate, every party. There are intelligent, honest, moral people in all parties. This is not a time for us to communicate our own possibly strong political opinions in a negative way, because we don’t want the children to be negative with each other when they’re campaigning. So, as hard as it may be for you to say nice things about a party to which you do not belong, suck it up!

Thinking Activity: Defining Your Issues and Priorities
A lot of the work we do during this class will involve introspection and self-analysis. We as teachers have to work with whatever comes out. If my student wants to start a bike-riding party, I’m going to have to use that to teach the ideas I want to teach him. This can become an interesting exercise, maybe the first time some of the younger kids have really asked themselves who they are and what they believe. We are not looking for “liberty” and “democracy” among their core values. We may be looking for freedom, but it may come out in the context of freedom to stay out after dark.

Creating a Political Party
Some questions to work through on page 1, and a kind of charter document to fill out on page 2.

Group Activity
This game will work best with more than one child, but can be done with one. Introduces the concept of facts vs. opinions, and gives the kids an active, non-verbal way to take a stand on issues.

Individual PDFs to download, in case you don't want the whole lesson:

Political Parties Readalong Teachalong

Defining Issues and Priorities Thinksheet

Inventing a Political Party Worksheet

The Opinions Game: Agree or Disagree?

I love hearing from students. Benny is blogging some of his efforts at his blog. Last week I particularly enjoyed hearing an MP3 of Phillip, who is five, singing himself to sleep with the Presidents song. Of course, he seems to be listing Jackson Pollack as every other president, but... it was very inspiring to hear that, nonetheless! Keep going!

This is the first week of Vote for Me! Elections Unit Study! For all classes to date, click the link.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:38 PM

    You so ROCK! Thanks you so much for doing this! I am starting school soon and was looking for an election/voting unit study. Keep 'em coming!!!!