Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vote for Me! Elections Unit Study: Week 2

Hello class members! Welcome to week 2 of our campaign! This week we are going to be learning the ins and outs of an introduction speech, the significance of the "running mate," and we're also going to be listening to and yelling political speeches and documenting our physical respones to these experiences. Getting through this material before the conventions get underway will help us understand what we're looking at when we watch the speeches on TV.

Here are some links that may be helpful as we contextualize the speeches and rituals at the conventions:

Famous Political Speeches, with text and audio.
Speeches from the Democratic National Convention, 2004.
Speeches from the Republican National Convention, 2004.

Here is the PDF for this week's lessons: Vote for Me! Week 2: Unconventional Conventions

Now that we’ve created our political parties, it’s time to throw a party. This week we’re getting ready to watch the real conventions on TV, so our purpose is to learn the vocabulary, become familiar with the different types of speeches, so that we will understand what we’re watching.

Read-Along Teach-Along Sheet: Political Conventions
There is a lot of information to pack in here and I glossed over some of the details of the nominating process in the interest of not overloading the students. When they watch the convention on TV and see each state’s delegation casting their votes, it will become more clear.

Writing and Reading: The “A Man Who” Speech
Beginning readers may not be able to wade through all of the two introductory speeches I linked to. If you are reading them aloud to your students, make sure to do it with high drama. After the students’ own introductions are written, have them practice introducing each other as well as being introduced. I purposefully made the format very short so that multiple ones could be written. Write an introductory speech for the dog. Write an introductory speech for Jack and Annie. Etc.

Science and Reading: The Physical Effects of Political Rhetoric
Here’s a miniature science project. This will be more interesting if the student delivers the speech at top volume with many gestures. Also, make sure the clapping and cheering during the listening segment is very enthusiastic and possibly even aerobic. Make sure you check your pulse and breathing rate when you're watching the keynote address in each convention. Who gets your pulse rate up higher?

Thinking Activity: Choosing a Running Mate
I had originally planned for siblings to be each other’s running mates, but I think now that it’s better if the students invent someone to fit the ticket. If your student has someone in mind that exists in real life, that would be cool too.

Art: How to Make a Duct Tape Hat
Make a tough, colorful, waterproof hat out of two rolls of duct tape! Wear it to watch the speeches on TV! This lesson is available online with how-to illustrations in the post previous to this one, or follow the link in the header.

Multimedia Assignment:
Watch the Conventions on TV!

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

Readalong Teachalong: Political Conventions

Writing and Reading: The "A Man Who" Speech

Science: The Physical Effects of Political Rhetoric: What a Feeling!

Thinking Activity: Choosing a Running Mate

Benny continues to blog his assignments. I'd love to hear from you and see how you're doing. Have a great week! To see all the lessons in this unit click here.


  1. Yo! I see you have Republican and Democrat covered... um... do Shez and I need to have a talk with you about including Libertarians? LOL ;o)

    Seriously, though, are you including other parties in your lesson plans? I'd love to see it!!!

  2. Well, the lesson plans are all available for download as PDFs.

    ;D What more do you want to see?!

    Last week's would probably be more interesting to you with regard to your concern -- we learned about Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, the Constitution Party, and Greens. Then the children invented their own political party. We talked about how everyone wants to name their party using a word that everyone likes and agrees with (like liberty, democracy, republic, etc.) so Benny named his party the Playtimitors. As in playtime. Which... I cannot argue with since obviously he got the idea!

    :) :)

    Are the lessons are downloadable as weekly packs or as individual pages, just use the links, dude!

  3. You rock so hard!

    Hey, you know what Jake would like to learn about (maybe it's the age... maybe it's his upbringing) is fringe political movements.

    We've actually started with other political parties in other countries to compare our government (including the Iroquois in America).

    Another popular subject at home is truth in politics, lobbyists, and adding supplementals to Bills so parties get their own agenda passed.

    Not that I want to add to your work load, though. I'm VERY thankful for you and what you've done!

    I'm really enjoying your hard work!

    Keep up the great work, puddin'!

    Off to use those links! :o) THANKS!!!!

  4. Wow, those sound like awesome discussions. Especially the fringe political movements. Very very interesting stuff, especially looked at in the context of history and what's happened to those fringe elements -- some of them get mainstreamed, yo!

    I'm looking forward to those conversations with my own kids as they get older -- it's been interesting to me in presenting this material how much you can really teach with a conversation -- no workbook or cards or visual aid, just a regular old conversation. And if you reinforce it a few times when it's relevant, the child will actually remember it very well. Amazing.

    It's impossible to explain how this happens to a non-homeschooler. Not to offend anyone, but it would be kind of like trying to explain parenting to a non-parent. Things just come up, you utilize the opportunities you have, and the learning happens in front of you.

    That's what I see this political season as -- a big learning opportunity.

    Maybe by recontextualizing it this way, I can get over my Hillary-related disappointment. Hehehe. :) :) :)

  5. Hey there! We are loving this unit. We'll be making the hats tomorrow. I really appreciate all the work you've done to get these units online. Anyway, thanks again (and thanks for visiting my blog!).


    P.S. We are die-hard Republicans, so I appreciate your covering both major parties (and giving a nod to the smaller parties - although you could add more from the smaller parties as another poster noted).

    P.P.S. My daughter is also named Lydia!!

  6. Any chance you could point me to The Man Who speeches in 2008? I had a quick look at the convention sites and couldn't figure out which they were. (and I'll look for you on the Homeschooling NaNo board!)

  7. Well, one interesting thing about the "A Man Who" speeches in 2008 is that they were videos! Those biographical videos produced by the parties kind of replaced the traditional introduction speech. So in some ways, this leads to an interesting discussion of which is better, what a video can add, and what a real speech can do that a video can't.

    There were some "A Man Who" speeches -- one was Chelsea's intro of Hillary. Also the wives' speeches kind of function that way -- like Cindy McCain's speech about her husband.