Media Literacy: Making Sense of the 24/7 News Cycle

A free press is essential to the success of a democracy. As the media has evolved over time to include radio, television, internet and now smart phones and social media apps, the ability in “being capable to read them” needs examining. This lesson guides students through analysis of social media posts, the definition of terms relevant to the media, and provides tools for identifying quality sources for examination of current political issues. This lesson accompanies the Talking Turkey: Taking the ‘Dis’ Out of Civil Discourse program as well as YLI and American Evolution’s First Freedom Wall.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Media Literacy, Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

How Do We the People Influence and Monitor the Government?

This resource provides students with an English language video and associated student friendly readings (in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole), as well as reading and video guides and self assessment tools. Using these, students will consider the different ways that citizens, interest groups, and the media can influence and monitor government.
Free registration is required to use the resource.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Quizzes, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Presenting Political Parties

Using the political cartoons of Clifford Berryman, this lesson, developed in collaboration with the National Archives, has students consider the impact of political parties on politics, government, lawmaking, and voters. The heavy focus here is on breaking down and interpreting some powerful primary sources to learn more about the role of political parties.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Redistricting: The Case of the Curious Gerrymander Part I and II

Do voters pick their elected officials or do the elected officials select their voters? This lesson introduces the concept of redistricting as vaguely defined by the Constitution and asks participants to assess the effectiveness of that definition in light of current Supreme Court cases and evidence from past elections. Students will interpret maps, look at data, and experiment with various redistricting options.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Talking Turkey: Social Justice and Civil Disobedience

Individuals participate in civil disobedience to nonviolently show their disapproval of policies, customs, and ideas, and for the purpose of achieving social justice. This tradition of standing up to injustice has been practiced throughout American history.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Political Ideology in America: Bumper Sticker Politics

Americans love to personalize their vehicles in a way you will not see in many other countries. This lesson explores political ideology by analyzing data on automobile purchases and bumper stickers. Students will learn generalizations about conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, libertarians, socialists and appreciate the American custom of advertising political thought in public.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Voting and the Constitution

Students will learn about the Constitution’s many provisions for voting, including how votes affect the makeup of the government and its branches. The lesson and lesson extensions will have students engage in activities and participate in discussions about how officials are chosen in the three branches of government and how the election process includes the Electoral College.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Should Our State Require Photo ID for In-Person Voting?

The right to vote is a fundamental right, protected by the U.S. Constitution. But there are limits to this right, and states can establish reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner of voting. This deliberation lesson sets up the question of whether states should require a photo ID to vote at the polls.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12