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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Great Resources on Women's Voting Rights

We have heard a lot of talk about the power of the women’s vote in this election.  Candidates are making sure that they address issues that are important to women to earn their vote.  It is hard to believe that women were amongst the last to earn the right to vote in the US.  Looking at the suffrage movement gives students the opportunity to understand the different perspectives of the times and look at the current issues surrounding the Voting Rights ACT.
Here are some great resources, links and lesson plans that can tie past and present issues surrounding voting rights:
The Woodrow Wilson Library has lesson plans that include everything from essential questions to assessments.  Lots of links to primary documents included!
Scholastic has some great lesson plans for different age groups, grades 1-2, 4-5, 6-8 with resources and activities. 
Looking for primary documents?  Of course our National Archives has put together great lesson plans and resources in their Teaching with Documents site.
Mr. Donn’s web pages include links to lesson plans, games, and links to Powerpoints on women’s suffrage.
Tom Daccord’s site, Edtechteacher has a great collection of  Best History Sites on women’s history.
This great lesson plan from Edsitement on Pro-and Anti-Suffrage Arguments has students look at women’s suffrage issues from all different perspectives- The Founding Fathers, the family, African Americans, States Rights, husbands, etc.  Check out the other 3 great activities at this site with links to political cartoons, articles, fliers and other primary documents of the day.
Why not follow up this great lesson by letting students discuss the issues by role-playing different points of view using the online SCAN tool and having students decide what should be done.  Check out the free lesson on “Women's Voting Rights."
How is this relevant to today?
Tie these great topics in by looking at the recent discussion on the Voting Rights Act which requires states to get advance approval by the Federal Government before they can change the way they hold elections. 
Look at how women’s issues are affecting voting today.  If women were voting, what issues would become non-issues?
Connect to women’s rights headlines from around the world by looking at the recent shooting of a 14 year old Pakistani girl by the Taliban for championing the education of girls and publicizing atrocities committed by the Taliban.
Do you have any favorite resources or activities to help our students appreciate voting rights? 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Political Polls- a Great Place to Get Them Thinking

What do you think?
Polls are a great way to get kids engaged in discussions
     o   Yes
     o   No
Polls are everywhere in the news, particularly now in the election season.  Surveys are a great way to get students to state their point of view.  This can be the start of a good discussion in math, social studies and language arts.  There are lots of great places to find polls that students can take part in or just analyze.  Check out these resources:
  1. The NYT’s Poll Watch gives you lots of recent polls and related articles.
  2. Real clear politics provides lots of information from different polls that can be used to study.
  3. Nonpartisan polling reports on trends in American public opinion based on the polls. 
  4. Time for Kids has a polling place where kids can cast their vote for president and see the poll results thus far.
  5. Student Engagement Activities on Polls can be found in Paul Gigliotti’s Blog on Edutopia.  These activities ask students to participate in a poll and then analyze and report on the results to gain an understanding of political polls.
  6. You can find some sample Math lessons on election polls.
Do it yourself!
Simple technology tools can help you quickly take a poll from your students in a fun and engaging way and provide them with real instant data to work with.  There are a number of free and simple tools available:
  1. Got a Google account?  You can make up a quick poll using Google forms.  There is a nice demo of how to do that here and all the information gets dumped into a spreadsheet.  You can send out the survey to your students or staff and work with the collected data.
  2. is a great tool that creates a poll that you can share with a Powerpoint slide or directly off the webpage.  Students can respond with cell phones or on the computer and instantly see their answers in graph form. 
  3. is another quick way to set up a poll that your students can answer through their computers.  You can set the poll up so quickly, it can be done right in front of the students, collect the data and have them analyze it all in the same class period.
  4. Looking for more? “Cool tools for schools” is a great wiki that has lots of links to other simple polling tools. 
Bottomline, polls are a great opportunity to get students involved in relevant and authentic work.  Polling is a great way to get students involved in the conversation.  Take a poll of student opinions before and after research of a classroom SCAN session.  Use polls to get kids involved in real math, reading graphs, writing persuasive essays and keeping up with current events. 
Have you used polls in the classroom?  Please share your experiences and ideas.

Friday, October 12, 2012

10 Great Resources on the Electoral College

As we get closer to the presidential election, the candidates are spending more and more time campaigning in “key states.”  It is frustrating to think that maybe your state “doesn’t count” or maybe even your vote doesn’t count.  Much of this is a result of the Electoral College system.  How can you help your students understand how it works and why we use it?  Here are some great resources, links and lessons that can help them think critically about the issues that surround the electoral college:
This short video:  Electoral College 101 (Op-Ed page of the New York Times -thanks for bringing it to my attention Megan Veschio!) has a great simulation done with 3rd graders demonstrating the popular vote vs the electoral vote using colored pencils vs. markers.  You can see the critical thinking going on in this classroom!
270 to Win is a cool site that shows what states are undecided and what it will take for either candidate to win based on daily polls. 

The New York Times Learning Network has tons of lessons and resources for this years elections including a crossword puzzle on the Electoral College.

Real Clear Politics features maps and polls and how they change and gives students real time data to look at.  Check here for an analysis on “How Likely is an Electoral/Popular Vote Split” in this election?

Check out this free BrainPOP video lesson on Presidential Elections with information and quizzes on the Electoral College.  

Scholastic also offers articles and teacher resources on the Electoral College.

Exploring Constitutional Conflicts offers a great resource on why the framers decided to go with the Electoral College and information to get kids thinking about whether it should be abolished or modified.

Games lessons and activities on the Electoral College can be found on the Congress for Kids site. 

PBS Kids explains why “Being Popular is Not Enough” with lots of other election resources. 

The National Archives also offers lots of resources for  teaching the electoral college.

Why not have your students hold their own debate as they discuss the Electoral College from four different points of view in the in the Free updated SCAN lesson “The Electoral College:  Does Your Vote Really Count?” found at TregoEd?

Check out more ideas on Elections and polling at