I posted about this yesterday in C&J but I thought I'd expand because I'm awfully excited about it.
We homeschool and once a week we meet with a group of families for a co-op. We're starting another session tomorrow and I'm going to be leading a class on elections for my daughter's age bracket. I thought I'd share my ideas here, invite feedback, maybe get more ideas and perhaps inspire some people to share their political passion with younger folks
My target audience for this is 9 to 11 year olds. We break our co-op up into six week sessions. I'm basing the class on the election cycle, addressing different stages as they fall on a timeline. I have a book from Scholastic with a lot of printable activities that I'll use. I'm also registered at C-Span Classroom and have been involved in this political endeavor, sometimes intensely, since 2003.
My basic timeline looks something like:
Rumblings & Rumors then Candidates Announce, Week 1
Primary Campaigns and Voting, Week 2
Party Conventions, Week 3
General Campaign, Weeks 4 & 5
General Election, the Electoral College & Inauguration, Week 6
I plan for our first week to be a general introduction to the process. I'll start with a KWL graph exercise where I'll ask the kids to tell me what they Know about elections, campaigns, etc., and what they Want to learn. As the weeks progress, we'll keep track of what they've Learned. I've never used this KWL format before so it'll be interesting to see how it works. It'll also help me see where each kid is at with knowledge and interest level.
After that, I'll go over the timeline and give them some highlights of what each topic will be about. This will lecture-esque and I hope not to bore them. It's a topic I find fascinating and I hope some of that passion and excitement communicates to them.
Next, our congressional district is having a special election in a week to choose someone who'll serve out the remainder of Julia Carson's term. I'm going to send Media Watch forms (courtesy of Scholastic) home with the kids and urge them to choose a newscast to monitor through the week for information about this election.
Then we'll break up into smaller groups for two other exercises. First, I have a government fact sheet for them to work on at home. Again from Scholastic, the idea is that each small group will study one level of government (local, state or federal) then come together to check each other's answers. After that, they go into other small groups with an "expert" one on the different levels in each and share what they've learned. So, each small group will have a local, state and federal expert and they'll tell each other what they've learned. It's a way for them to take ownership in the knowledge.
The next exercise is a long-term one. We'll be doing a mock election along the timeline. I didn't want to mimic our presidential election because although we are for the most part a liberal group, there may be a few outliers and I don't want to create a divisive atmosphere. I won't hide my beliefs, but I'm not going to challenge a nine-year-old on his. So, we're going to pick some local attractions (parks, zoos, museums) and campaign on choosing a favorite for our group. We'll have a primary within our class then open up the general election to our whole co-op. I think it'll be fun and informative. Tomorrow, we'll be talking about our potential candidates.
I plan to devote the last bit of our class to watching a few videos. I posted yesterday looking for info about actually downloading youtube videos then remembered that google is my friend! I found the answer at Wired's how-to wiki. I found a download helper add-on for Firefox and a free cross-media player so I can take them along to our location.
Since week 1 is about candidates announcing, I found announcements for Obama, Hillary Clinton, McCain and Huckabee. It should be an interesting variety! Huckabee announced, apparently, on Meet the Press in late January, 2007. I couldn't find a video just of that but found a Sunday highlights reel from the day which is even more interesting--other Repub candidates who have dropped out are also shown and Donna Brazile and Michael Steele state who they think would be tough to run against (Brownback and Edwards, respectively). So, a neat overview for the kids.
Hillary's announcement is one posted to her website in January of '07. It's a short (under 2 minutes) video in a living room setting. I don't know if there was a prominent public followup speech but I like having this one for contrast, showing the different ways a candidate might approach this momentous step.
McCain announced in New Hampshire in April last year. It's an outdoor rally and typical of what we've seen of him, I think. Sort of a snorer. The videos about seven minutes but I'll probably only play around 3 of that, just enough to give them a flavor.
Finally, Obama's announcement is the one he did in Springfield in February of last year. I found an announcement video that he did on his website similar to Hillary's but I think this announcement is the big one that people remember. It's also a great contrast to McCain's with its rather boring speech and its polite applause. It's a twenty minute video though! I hope to play about five of that.
That's what I have planned. I have an hour after which they're moving on to a stop-motion animation class. If I can get everyone in on time and compress the KWL exercise and don't ramble on as I introduce the election cycle, we should have plenty of time for reactions to the video and some discussion.
I'd love some feedback on these initial plans. I will probably post each week what I have planned for that class. I'll share, too, how the class went. We have a wide variety of temperments with the kids so it'll be interesting to see how they respond. A few parents will be sitting in as well and they'll participate as long as I see it doesn't squelch the kids' reactions.