Making our Voices Heard: Vote

Grades: 
6, 7, 8

Raise students' awareness of the importance of freedom of speech and the opportunity to voice one's opinion without fear of reprisal, as principles basic to a democracy. The learners investigate ways to have a positive influence in encouraging eligible voters to make their voices heard at the polls during elections and/or referendums.  

Lesson Rating 
0
Duration 
PrintOne 55-60 minute class period
Objectives 

The learner will:

  • articulate the importance of freedom of speech and voicing one's opinions during election season--ultimately by voting
  • explore possible reasons for poor voter turnout.
  • explore ways to influence and encourage eligible voters in the community to voice their opinions at the polls.
  • articulate an understanding of the importance of participating in the elections process as a way to promote the common good in their school, community, state, and nation.
Materials 

Computer with Internet connection and display capability

Reflection 

Have each student write a one or two sentence reflection about their service using at least three of the following prompts:

  1. I learned how to…
  2. I changed my mind about…
  3. I was feeling…
  4. I thought ….
  5. I was hoping that…
  6. I became convinced of…

Encourage the students to share their responses to the prompts they selected and have them look for similarities and differences in the responses of others. Conclude this activity by having students come up with three or four single words that reflect the majority of responses given to each prompt.  Write these words on the display board. Have the students share why it might be difficult to ‘put into words’ what they experienced during this service project.

Bibliography 

Dr. Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream Speech: http://www.mlkonline.net/sounds.html

Wake Up Everybody video by babyface [2008] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWADVDHPK24  Lyrics https://genius.com/Babyface-wake-up-everybody-lyrics

Voter turnout statistics from the United States Election Project http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/voter-turnout-data

 

 

Instructions

Print
  1. Anticipatory Set: As the learners enter the classroom have Dr. Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream Speech playing in the background. (Teacher Note: This is a sixteen minute audio so if time is such that it is prohibitive to play the entire speech, allow it to fade out as appropriate.) Inform the class that they will now watch and listen to a special music video “Wake Up Everybody" by Babyface--note that this progressive video was intentionally made to stimulate voter turnout. (See Bibliographical References) Encourage them to listen carefully, and write down key words in the music and that by doing so, they will discover what the lesson will be about today.

  2. After viewing and listening to the video, have the learners share what they have written down from the lyrics and captions found in the video. Capture their ideas on the display board.

  3. Have them share why most young people feel it is important to have their voices heard in their social circles (i.e. home, school, circle of friends, etc.).

  4. Highlight the concept of freedom of speech and voicing one's opinion without fear of reprisal. Discuss how this is accomplished in our electoral system and why voting is so important to the democratic form of government.

  5. Discuss how participating in the election process can be an example of what it means to be a responsible citizen and why it is so important that everyone who is eligible needs to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this process.

  6. Have the learners guess the percentage of eligible voters nationwide who actually made sure their voices were heard in the 2012 Federal Election: 28%, 43%, 57%, 69%, or 72% ? (Ans. 57%) Ask the learners to offer their opinions as to why this percentage might be so low.  Review the demographic turnout info from 2016 [see Bibliography]

  7. Share data regarding the percentages for their local area, town, city, and/or state's voter turnout. (Teacher Note:  State-level info data can be obtained from the United States Election Project  which also links to the states' Secretaries of State data at the district level.  Your local county or township clerk's office can help with data at the precinct level.

  8. Ask learners if they think there is a need, based on all the data to address this problem and, if so, in what other ways they could promote better voter turnout in their community/state?

  9. Assign the learners to groups of three and have them brainstorm ways that as a class they might be able to influence/encourage those who are eligible to vote in an up-coming election to actually make their voices heard at the polls.

  10. Have each group share their ideas  and by consensus decide on one or two ideas that are doable and have the potential to make a positive impact on getting voters to the polls.

Assessment 

The learners will be assessed based on their classroom participation evidenced in the class discussions and group work.

Cross Curriculum 

Take action to encourage adults to vote.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.11 Discuss why organizations in the civil society sector work to protect minority voices.
      2. Benchmark HS.12 Explain why private action is important to the protection of minority voices.
      3. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss civic virtue and its role in democracy.