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By now you probably have heard that this is an election year (how could you not?!). Over the past several months, Americans have witnessed numerous presidential candidate debates, state primaries and caucuses, radio, television, and Internet campaigns, and a barrage of political spin and rhetoric, all building to the November elections.

Undoubtedly, your students have been exposed to some of this, and hopefully, their interest has been piqued by recent events. Some may already have a favorite candidate, while others might be waiting to see who emerges as the parties’ nominees. For teachers, it can be a daunting task to provide classroom experiences that help students understand the U.S. election process in an informative and interactive way.

 INTERACT’s The Presidential Election Process unit provides students in grades 5-8 with the information and experiences to understand how our political system operates and the opportunity to experience the excitement of participating in an election campaign. The unit can be easily adapted for high school classes and fulfills many of the standards for U.S. History, Civics and Government, and Language Arts. The lesson activities span 11 days, but these don’t need to be conducted all at once. Additionally, each activity can be used independently of the others, so teachers can select the ones most appropriate for their classes.

 The materials in The Presidential Election Process can be easily modified so students can campaign for any public office and focus on current or local issues. In the simulation activity, students form six campaign committees, representing the six major American political parties—Democrat, Republican, the America First Party, The Constitution Party, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party—and explore each party’s history and political philosophy. Students take on different responsibilities in running a campaign: candidate, campaign manager, speech writer, and publicity manager. They will develop briefing papers, campaign issue speeches, radio, television and Webcast commercials, print advertisements, a campaign website and even campaign flyers, stickers, and lawn signs. Event cards present real-life challenges, causing the committees to adjust or modify their campaign strategy. The simulation culminates with a political rally that can be presented in class or as a public event to inform the community on the issues, the political parties, and the candidates.

 The Presidential Election Process unit provides teachers with background materials, step-by-step instructions, planning guides and student handouts. All activities are guided by templates and instruction sheets, and students keep track of the activities through task/responsibility charts. The unit also contains a multiple-choice quiz and rubrics for evaluating student cooperative learning skills, the campaign materials, and participation in campaign rally presentation.

 INTERACT’s The Presidential Election Process gives students the fundamentals on the U.S. election process and the nature of American political parties while simulating the activities of an election campaign. They learn about the election process and its place in American politics. Beyond that, they will also gain skills in cooperative learning and in applying political theory to real issues. Participating in The Presidential Election Process provides students with an appreciation for political diversity, campaign strategy, and cooperating with others.

 To order The Presidential Election Process, please visit TeachInteract.com.


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