The History of Contested Presidential Elections

This lesson looks at the contested presidential elections occurring in 1800, 1824, 1876 and 2000. Using C-SPAN video clips, students will identify how each election was resolved and the consequences of these elections. They will apply this knowledge by describing similarities and differences between these examples and determining what lessons can be learned from these elections.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Electoral College Map Virtual Scavenger Hunt

This lesson has students explore C-SPAN’s online Historical Electoral College Map resource to learn about the process, history, and current patterns and trends relating to the Electoral College. This self-guided activity will have students use a series of online Electoral College maps and results from 1900 to 2016 to complete a virtual scavenger hunt. Students will use this resource to analyze maps and data to better understand how the Electoral College works.

Flaws of the Electoral College System

In this activity, students will trace the history of the Electoral College through analysis of primary source documents from the elections of 1789, 1800, 1824, and 1988 to identify four flaws with the system. An examination of proposed and implemented reforms, including the 12th Amendment, will engage students in a discussion of modifying or abolishing the Electoral College.

Grades 8, 9-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Primary Sources

Freedom of Assembly: The Right to Protest

This lesson will focus on freedom of assembly, as found in the First Amendment. Students will consider the importance of the right to assemble and protest by analyzing cases where First Amendment rights were in question. Using the case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, students will consider if the government is ever allowed to control the ability to express ideas in public because viewpoints are controversial, offensive, or painful. Students will use primary sources and Supreme Court cases to consider whether the courts made the correct decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to form an opinion on the essential question: Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom to assemble?

Freedom of Assembly: National Socialist Party v. Skokie

This film explores the First Amendment right of the “people peaceably to assemble” through the lens of the U.S. Supreme Court case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie. The legal fight between neo-Nazis and Holocaust survivors over a planned march in a predominantly Jewish community led to a ruling that said the neo-Nazis could not be banned from marching peacefully because of the content of their message.

2020 Presidential Debate Viewing Guides

The Commission on Presidential Debates will hold three presidential and one vice presidential debates during the 2020 campaign. This lesson has students use one of several viewing guides and activities to help them understand and analyze these debates. Teachers can choose to have students analyze the debates by using a rubric, through a BINGO activity, or by focusing on topic, criterion or modes of persuasion. 

Comparing the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions

Using clips from the Democratic National Convention (August 17-20, 2020) and the Republican National Convention (August 24-27, 2020), this lesson has students compare the speeches given at each party’s convention and develop summaries of the messaging and priorities of each party. Students will use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of each party’s message.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media