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Explore the History of Elections

Students will conduct research about the history of elections in the United States. They will note how they have changed and use what they learn to project what the election process may look like in the future.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, brainstorm a list of facts students know about elections. Ask questions to foster ideas. For example: What is an election? Why do people have elections? Who gets to vote during an election? What kinds of things do they vote for? 
  2. Inform the class that during an election, people may choose a candidate or they may decide what to do about an issue. The ultimate goal of an election is for people to make a choice. But how people have done that and who has been allowed to participate hasn't always been the same.     
  3. In small groups or with a partner, have students investigate the history of U.S. political elections. Instruct students to identify one or more ways these elections have changed over time. Challenge them to use what they learned to predict how elections could be different in the future. 
  4. Give each student a piece of plain white paper. Have students fold their papers into thirds and label the sections "Past," "Present" and "Future." Instruct students to create their own "History of Elections" brochures to teach others what they learned about elections.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their brochures with the class. After the final presentation, challenge the class to identify the biggest changes in the history of U.S. political elections. Review all predictions about changes in the future. Then have the class vote to select the one idea they think is most likely to come true. 

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Have students conduct research in small groups to learn about the history of U.S. political elections. Instruct each group to identify and investigate one way these elections have changed over time. Encourage each group member to create a unique brochure.  
Grades 5-6:
Have students conduct research in small groups to learn about the history of U.S. political elections. Instruct each group to identify and investigate two ways these elections have changed over time. Encourage each group member to create a unique brochure. Challenge students to tell about the past and present of each change and to make a prediction about the future.  
Grades 7-8: 
Have students conduct research with a partner to learn about the history of U.S. political elections. Instruct each pair to identify and investigate three ways these elections have changed over time. Encourage each partner to create a unique brochure. Challenge students to tell about the past and present of each change and to make a prediction about the future.
Grades 9-10:
Have students conduct research with a partner to learn about the history of U.S. political elections. Instruct each pair to identify and investigate what they consider to be the most important or interesting ways these elections have changed over time. Encourage each partner to create a unique brochure. Challenge students to show a connection between the changes they identified as they tell about the past and present of elections and make a prediction about the future.