With the controversial Presidential Election of 2000 behind us, here's a chance for your students to examine the issues, research past elections, and express their opinions about our electoral process while they create an interactive handheld "zine."
Science, Math, English & Language Arts
3-4 class periods, plus research/writing work outside of class
Introducing the Lesson
- Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (NCSS)/Standard 6: Power, Authority, and Governance
- Standards for the English Language Arts (NCTE/IRA)/Standard 7: Conducting Research and Standard 8: Using Technological and Informational Resources
Florida Sunshine State Standards
See www.explorasource.com for more state standards connections.
- Social Studies/Strand C: Government and the Citizen
- Language Arts/Strand B2: Writing to Communicate Ideas and Information Effectively
- District Standards (fill in your own)
- Research presidential elections history and the electoral process using a variety of electronic and traditional information media.
- Develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the issues.
- Prepare graphic, textual, and interactive representation of the issues to promote further understanding.
- Collaborate with classmates to compile an electronic magazine delivered to handheld devices.
- Review the Electronic Handouts and revise or adapt for your class as needed.
- Be prepared to divide the class into four teams, each focusing on a different story for the zine:
- Past Is Prologue: The 1960 Presidential Race
- What Now for the Electoral College?
- Presidential Election 2000: Monitoring the Media
- How Will We Ballot in 2004?
- A member of each team should also be designated Production Manager to facilitate the creation and transmission of team documents and to work with his or her counterparts to assemble all of the stories and their interactive components.
Introducing the Lesson
- Begin the lesson with the Warm-Up Quiz, which challenges some popular assumptions about the 2000 Presidential Election and the electoral process. After students have chosen their answers, call on volunteers to report their choices. Next, have students highlight cells E2:E5 of their quiz, go to Format>Cells>Font, and choose Color>Black to reveal the correct answers.
- Hold a class discussion about how important public events are written about. Note that events are reported from multiple perspectives, including historical significance and context, economic factors, impact on current political or cultural affairs and perceptions, among others.
- Pose this challenge to your students: Imagine you were the news writers in the field covering the 2000 election. How would you have reported the events? Tell students that they will now have their chance to run their own 21st century printing press and produce their own election-focused electronic magazine.
- Before they begin work, remind students:
- To base their work on both accurate data and passionate feelings about the subject.
- To express their disagreements while finding a means to accommodate one another's views.
- Assign students to the groups listed in Teacher Preparation, Step 2, and move ahead to Activity 1.
Activity 1: Assignment Desk
Grouping: Small Groups
Materials: Assignment Tickets, Election Web Guide
Activity 2: Create Your Interactive Story
- Have students gather in their small groups, and beam each group's Assignment Ticket to the Production Manager of the group. This student should then beam the Assignment Ticket to everyone else on the team.
- Have students use the Election Web Guide and other research resources to answer the questions posed on the Assignment Tickets. Here's a summary of each team's assignment:
- Past Is Prologue: The 1960 Presidential Race. Students on this team will delve into the details of the Nixon-Kennedy race, paying particular attention to misperceptions and parallels to the 2000 Presidential Election.
- What Now for the Electoral College? Students will explore the history of the Electoral College system, current moves to change it, and potential impact of new Census data.
- Presidential Election 2000: Monitoring the Media. Students on this team will explore the role of the media in this recent presidential election and monitor the efforts by the media to change its election reporting practices.
- How Will We Ballot in 2004? This team will explore new efforts to develop more modern voting technologies.
- Make sure each group follows these guidelines:
- Each team must create a list of at least five (5) research findings and sources.
- The students should also open Pocket Excel to create one table to capture its findings.
- When teams have completed the research phase, the Production Managers should beam their work to you for review.
Grouping: Small Groups
Materials: Election Web Guide, Assignment Tickets, documents created in Activity 1
Activity 3: Compile the "Zine"
- The working groups will now turn their research into interactive electronic magazine stories about their particular topics, following instructions in the Assignment Ticket.
- Each group should begin choosing its editorial posture. The team members should discuss their research and their opinions about the topic at hand, with particular focus on any changes of view due to the in-depth research. Then the team should choose its position. If there are multiple views, the team must find a means for representing the divergent views (such as point-counterpoint).
- Next, the team should create a written magazine story, with headlines, subheads, and no more than 500 words of text. The story should be carefully edited and proofread by the entire team, then saved under a unique file name.
- Then comes the fun part: adding an interactive element. This could be a graphic or sound to illustrate the story, a puzzle or game to go along with it, or a Web tour to expand upon it. Students will no doubt have their own ideas about this aspect of the assignment.
- Once the interactive element is shaped, the team should test its workability several times, and may call on another group to do likewise.
- When the story and interactive element are both complete, the Production Manager of each team should beam them both to you.
Grouping: Small Groups and Whole Class
Materials: Articles and interactive components developed in Activity 2.
Activity 4: Beam the Presses!
- After their individual articles and interactive components are complete, the Production Managers from all the groups should convene to discuss possibilities for compiling the "zine" as a whole. The Production Managers should aim to report at least one recommended format to the whole class. Options include:
- Publishing each piece separately but with a consistent, distinctive font and color scheme, and cross-referencing all the pieces in text.
- Creating a common cover page and compiling the Pocket Word documents together as one longer document.
- Using a desktop PC resource to convert the articles to Web pages for either local viewing or posting to the school Intranet.
- Some other solution of students' own devising.
- While the Production Managers are meeting, each set of remaining team members should craft a short list of two to four possible names for the "zine".
- Have students convene as a whole class to hear the Production Managers' format recommendations. If there is more than one suggestion, the class should vote to choose one. If there is only one suggestion, the class should ratify it with a vote.
- Finally, each team should present its short list of names to the class, which will vote for a final selection.
Grouping: Small Groups and Whole Class
Materials: Food Tracker, Food Web Guide, Internet
- Based on the decisions in Activity 3, the teams and their Production Managers should prepare the "zine" for "press" by compiling the work and doing one last, thorough proofing and edit.
- When the final review is complete, have one of the Production Managers beam it to you for review.
- Each Production Manager should beam the "zine" to his or her team members, who can also beam it to others in the school who have a handheld device, such as the principal.
- In addition, students can email their publication to friends at other schools and to any public policy or media leaders they think might be interested.
- If possible, create a printout version for backup purposes.
- Celebrate press day by setting aside time for the class to read its work. Serve refreshments.
Wrap-Up Activity and Evaluation
Grouping: Individual and Whole Class
Materials: Completed "zine," Media Critiquer
- Several days after the "zine" is published, beam the Media Critiquer to your students. Assign them to read through their project with a fresh eye and complete the assigned critique.
- For extra credit, invite students to write letters to the editor responding to any of the stories or interactive pieces they did not write themselves.
- You can also use the Media Critiquer to evaluate the overall project and assign each team its grade.
Grouping: Whole class and Small Groups
Materials: "Zine," email
- Now that they've covered the election, what other topics might your students want to tackle in a new edition of their publication?
- Compile a list of suggestions from students with your own recommendations, and have the class vote on a next edition topic.
- Have teams regroup and repeat Activities 1-4!