Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
Benchmark HS.3 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibilities.
Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
Standard VS 03. Providing Service
Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
Students will describe how the electoral process functions during an election and analyze the importance of volunteering to participate in the electoral process.
The learners will:
- describe the electoral process.
- take a stand regarding the candidates’ positions on issues that affect him/her and the community.
- analyze the contribution of one who participates in a campaign, giving of time, talent or treasure.
- Student copies of Understanding the Candidates (HandoutOne) Spanish version (Handout Four)
- Student copies of Issues (Handout Two) Spanish version (Handout Five)
- Rubrics for the Campaign Endorsement (HandoutThree) Spanish version (Handout Six)
Invite the students to ask their parents about the upcoming elections or past elections and the issues that have impacted the community.
Ask the learners if someone can be considered a good citizen who ...
- does not vote;
- only votes in major elections, like President, Mayor and Governor;
- only votes for candidates of one party.
Discuss. (Teacher Note: Be open to different points of view, especially on the last item.).
Lead a discussion asking the students what voting means to them. Guide students through the reasons why elections are held. Define the following terms:
candidate, vote, election, freedom of speech, debate, ballot, campaign issues, partisan politics, and non-partisan politics
Using the election words that the students have learned, have them discuss how voting or not voting can influence how their lives may be affected, and ask students how they can make a difference by getting involved in the electoral process.
Distribute Understanding the Candidates (Attachment One). If there is an election coming, ask the learners to fill in the names of the candidates for an office they are following. Without being concerned at this time about the issues in the election, ask the learners to fill in the information solicited on the worksheet. If there are other categories of information they would like to add (education, religion, standing in the community, etc.), have the learners fill in the blank spaces. If necessary, use the newspaper, Voter’s Guides or the Internet to complete the form. (Teacher Note: This activity can be done as a whole group activity with joint input into completing the form.)
Distribute Issues (Attachment Two). As a whole group, have students brainstorm a short list of major issues in the campaign (taxes, crime, recreational activities for citizens, etc.) which should be listed on the board. After the list has been generated, let students work individually to select those items from the board which are of particular concern to them. They should then list each issue they select on their worksheet in a sentence that expresses their viewpoint on the issue, e.g., “no raise in taxes” or “support a new recreation center for the community.” Once the issues are listed, the students should research each candidate’s stand on the issue and check “agree” or “disagree” to reflect the candidate’s point of view. Remind the learners that it is possible for a candidate to have “no opinion” on an issue but that will not occur very frequently.
Once the two forms have been completed, ask the learners to reflect on the candidates and the issues and write a thirty (30) second campaign spot for the candidate of their choice. Instead of using cute songs, rhymes and jokes, indicate that the campaign spot should be a one-paragraph speech that seriously endorses the candidate, giving specific reasons why she/he should be elected. Go over Rubrics for the Campaign Endorsement (Attachment Three) to assist the learners in writing their endorsements. Have all students orally present their endorsement.
Given the appropriate time, i.e., an upcoming local, state or national election, students may choose to assist candidates during the election by distributing campaign literature, making calls, or working at campaign headquarters. Candidates may be invited to speak to and answer questions from the class. (Teacher Note: Be sure to invite all the candidates for an office, rather than only one.)
Discuss whether the voluntarism of a single teen-age individual, giving of his or her time, talent or treasure, is of any value to the campaign. What “opportunity costs” are there for the teen (giving up time with friends and family, or time for studying or working at a job, etc.)? What will the teen gain, both personally and as a member of the community, by offering to work on the campaign?
Remind those students who are eighteen to register to vote at least one month before the election. When they vote on Election Day, ask these students to share their experience of the process of voting with the class.
The reflection endorsement will serve as an assessment.