Arts & Humanities
Americans are in the process of narrowing down the list of presidential candidates. A lot has to happen between now and Election Day 2008.
Write the following terms on a board or chart: political parties, primary, caucus
Next, write on a board or chart these additional words from the News Word Box and the students printable page: convention, ballot, major, narrow, and decision. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:
Read the News
Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Presidential Election One Year Away.
More Facts to Share
You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.
As of Friday, November 2, 2007, the major parties candidates include those on the list below. Each name on this list links to the candidates official Web site:
The list above is not a complete list of the candidates representing the two main parties. In addition, many smaller parties have candidates. Multiple candidates are running under the banners of the Green and Libertarian parties. Many others are running as Independents." And a handful of other parties are also presenting candidates. Altogether, there are more than 200 announced candidates for the office of president. Click here for one of the most complete lists of candidates.
Next summer, the Democrats and Republicans will hold conventions at which time party members, or delegates, will select the candidate who will represent them on the 2008 presidential election ballot.
Delegates are allocated to each state based on the states population. The number of delegates each state has shifts from election to election because population shifts. Click one of these links to learn more about the complexities of number and selection of Republican delegates and Democratic delegates.
The process of choosing delegates to represent each state at the national conventions can differ from state to state. Some states use a caucus system and others use a primary system.
The caucus system used to be the most common way for states to choose their convention delegates. Some states still use the system. Generally, any voter can show up at the state caucus of his or her political party. There, the assembled voters will choose (vote for) the delegates who will represent them at the convention. Some delegates might be committed to a specific candidate; others might be uncommitted. For additional information, see How Do Caucuses Work?
The first primary was held in the early 1900s. In the years since then, primaries have come to replace caucuses as the most common way to elect delegates. In a primary, registered voters vote via secret ballot for their favorite candidate. Some primaries are closed primaries; only voters belonging to a political party can vote in their partys primary. Other states hold open primaries; a registered voter can vote in either primary, but they cannot vote in both primaries. A third type of primary, a blanket primary, is less common; registered voters are allowed to participate in all primaries. For additional information, see How Does the Primary Process Work?
Some states hold both caucuses and primaries. The states caucus gathers for the purpose of supporting a particular candidate, but party members are free to vote their personal choice in the primary.
Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson. Point out the words primary and caucus and ask students to explain the difference between the two election processes.
You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:
Think About the News
Ask students why they think Tuesday, February 5, is called Super Tuesday." (Because so many primaries are being held that day. People might have a better idea who the presidential candidates will be after the primaries on that date.)
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy
Social Studies - citizenship. Who can be president of the United States? In order to be elected, one must be at least 35 years old. Also, each candidate must be a natural-born U.S. citizen and have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years. (If needed, see more detail.) Given those requirements, it is clear that some people can, and others cannot, be elected president in 2008? For example:
History/Math election calendar. Have students work on their own or in groups to create a calendar that shows when the upcoming presidential primaries will take place. You might arrange students into five groups and give each group a calendar for a different month, January through May. They might use the resource State Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates as they create their calendars of primary dates. Do the calendars make it clear why February 5 is called Super Tuesday"? As the primaries approach, you might assign each student to track and report on the results in one of the state primaries.
If you have a group of students who are visual learners, you might provide them with an outline map of the United States. They will need to choose a political party to map. They should assign a different color to each month, January to May, and color each state with the color that represents the month in which its primary election or caucus is scheduled to take place.
Language arts election terminology. Have your students create a glossary of election terms or an ABC Book of Elections. Assign each student a word; older students might be given more than one word. Students will create a page for the book that explains that words meaning in the context of the upcoming election. In addition, students might include on their pages some kind of picture or illustration that helps convey the meaning of the word. As a source of election terms, you might use this Election Glossary or this Election Word List. As the election process ensues, refer to your glossary or ABC book whenever you might need to review a term.
Citizenship learning about the candidates. Assign each student or a pair of student to learn more about one of the candidates. Students might use biographical information or information on the candidates Web site (see list above) to present a few facts about the candidates background and about his or her stand on a couple major issues.
Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.
Lesson Plan SourceEducation World
National StandardsNational Standards
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-REP.PK-12.1 Create and Use Representations to Organize, Record, and Communicate Mathematical Ideas
NM-REP.PK-12.3 Use Representations to Model and Interpret Physical, Social, and Mathematical Phenomena
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
GRADES K - 12
NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.1 Living and Working together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 12.10 All Eras
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Article by Ellen Delisio
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