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Education World Resource Roundup: The Presidential Election

 A non-scientific study published in 2016 found that 40 percent of teachers are hesitant to teach about this presidential election because of difficult topics they feel make it hard to maintain a positive classroom environment and an unbiased position.

Using this study, the National Educator’s Association began a campaign against what is being called ‘The Trump Effect,’ claiming that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s controversial remarks on topics like immigration and the treatment of Muslim citizens has resulted in an increase of bullying in classrooms.

Campaigns like this have also resulted in educators feeling a certain hesitance when it comes to teaching current affairs, so Education World has compiled a list of resources designed to make it a little easier.

After all, though it might be more challenging this election year than ever before, teaching students the principles of citizenship helps them to not only be informed now, but as citizens for the rest of their lives.

Online Counseling Programs

Family Conflict: How to Navigate Political Conversations, covers how to prepare and manage a healthy conversation at family gatherings, and provides guidelines on how to respond when you do not share the same views and values.

The National Writing Project’s Letters to the Next President 2.0

Through this safe and fully supported platform, students are able to share their voices and read the voices of peers from all over the country on various hot-button election issues.

Students are able to share their voices on topics like gun violence, racism in America, deportation, air pollution, homelessness, the wage gap and more.

Examples of letters your students can read include Diana G.’s from California titled "Things that the President Must to Know About Immigrants.”

Diana, an immigrant from El Salvador, shares her unique perspective with the future President by asking him or her to understand that children come to the U.S. seeking a better life just as she did.

"You might not know how many children are suffering crossing the border or being abused in their country and this why they are emigrating to the United States,” Diana writes.

Daequan B. from Pennsylvania asks the future Mr. or Mrs. President to make global warming a priority when stepping into office.

"Dear next president, please not only hear the cry of the people but hear the cry of world and take time to notice the difference in our world. If we do not change now humans will cease to have a chance make a difference in the future. Why procrastinate when we can end the problem now,” he writes. 

Other passionate letters on wide-ranging topics fill the site by the hundreds, making it a phenomenal resource to use while showing students the wide range of opinions that affect voting. 

Additional resources also make it easy for teachers to seamlessly integrate Letters to the Next President in their classrooms.

Such resources help educators teach students about the president’s job description, inspire them to start thinking about what they’d say to the next president, and also encourage civil conversations even when conversations become difficult.

Resources and Activities from Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance, created by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a perfect place for retrieving full lesson plans that teach students the important social justice lessons that are often related to tough topics like immigration, racism and more.

Not to mention Teaching Tolerance has now created a webinar series that supports "practices that can help reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relationships and promote equitable experiences for all students.” 

Overall, Teaching Tolerance is a great way to do exactly that this election season.

Newsela’s Students Vote 2016

What better way to engage students in the election than by having them actually vote?

Newsela’s Students Vote 2016 gives students the opportunity to vote before the adults do with student election results released a whole week before the adult election.

This gives students an exciting chance to review breakdowns and analysis of student voting before the November 8 general election results are announced. The polling occurs from October 17- November 1, and voting begins as soon as the classroom’s teacher registers the class with Newsela.

To ensure that educators get the best experience out of Student Vote, Newsela offers a free webinar that helps cover both the election and topics within the classroom. 

PBS Debate Tool Kit and Election Central

Election after election, PBS remains one of the best resources for teaching about the presidential election with this year being no different.

PBS Education’s partnership with EXPLO and the Commission on Presidential Debates has created a free classroom debate toolkit that will help put any educator’s mind at ease when getting ready to have students talk about this election’s difficult topics.

"This tool kit includes resources to engage students through a process of student led discussions designed to foster meaningful and civil conversations with people who think differently. By listening, sharing, questioning, and reflecting, students develop skills critical to becoming thoughtful, responsible citizens,” says PBS’ website.

According to the guide, through its method students will learn how to engage in controversy in a respectful manner, analyze an argument and develop follow-up questions, articulate their opinion in the most articulate manner, improve teamwork and leadership skills, develop skills to encourage others to speak, provide reflective feedback and point out connections between debate topics and the world at large.

Learn how to download the debate curriculum guide and free accompanying classroom posters here.

Voki Tool and Presidential Avatars

Voki presidential avatars provide students with an opportunity to express creativity while acting as an important outlet for students to discuss sensitive things.

This lesson plan from Technology and Literacy has students use the Voki tool to create presidential commercials, a unique way to emerge students in digital media learning while also encouraging them to talk about election topics. 


Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor



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