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

2020 Presidential Candidates on the Issues

In this lesson, students will view video clips of the 2020 presidential candidates from the two major political parties discussing specific issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, immigration and the environment. Students will use these primary source video clips of President Trump and former Vice President Biden to summarize the candidates’ views on these issues and formulate their own opinions on the candidates.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media

2020 Elections: Competitive Senate Races

This lesson has students look at recent polling and analysis to identify competitive Senate elections around the country. Included in this lesson are campaign ads and breakdowns of these competitive Senate races. Students will be able to identify pathways for both the Democrats and the Republicans to win majorities in the Senate and evaluate the likelihood of each. 

Grades 7-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Interactives

Predicting the 2020 Presidential Election

In this lesson, students will view video clips highlighting competitive states in the 2020 presidential race. Using information from these video clips and polling data, students will make predictions for each swing state and use an interactive electoral college map to determine which candidate will win the 270 electoral votes needed to become president. Students will be able to identify pathways for both candidates to win the Electoral College and evaluate the likelihood of each scenario. 

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Should the Electoral College Be Reformed?

This deliberation has students view C-SPAN video clips to learn about the history and Constitutional background of the Electoral College. Students will also explore arguments for and against reforming the Electoral College. Using this information, students will develop and argue their position on the question: Should the Electoral College Be Reformed?

What Is ‘Fake News’ And How Does It Impact Our Lives?

This deliberation will have students view short video clilps and news articles to analyze the effect of fake news on traditional media outlets, the reasons and incentives for purveyors of “fake news,” and provide students with resources to strengthen their media literacy skills. Students will use this information to develop strategies to identify “fake news” and improve their news literacy.

The Powers of the President

In this lesson, students will view video clips to learn about the powers of the president and how they have grown and been used throughout our history. Students will use these video clips to respond to a writing prompt about the balance of powers between the three branches.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Media