Voice Your Vote

How to use this program  

Thank you for taking the time to educate your students and their families about voting, democracy and elections. We want you to know that participating in the program and using its supplementary materials is easy and integrates seamlessly with your established teaching methods.

The student playbook and online teacher resources have lessons and activities that emphasize the 21st Century Education Skills – Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking. Along with suggested grade levels, purpose of each activity and cognitive level of thinking, these allow you to tailor your instruction to meet the needs and abilities of your entire class.

Before the Performance  

  • Watch the Educator Preview Video
  • Start a K-W-L (Know-Wonder-Learn) exercise with your students.
  • Review the student playbook to identify the appropriate leveled activities for your class.

Day of the Performance

  • Watch the Student Preview Video with your students.
  • Continue the K-W-L exercise with your students. What do you know about the subject matter we are about to see? What do you want to know?
  • Attend the live performance scheduled for your class.

After the Performance  

  • Watch the Post-Performance Video with your students.
  • Conclude your K-W-L by asking the students what they learned from the performance.
  • Use the student playbooks and share the additional lessons and expanded information.
  • Use the other games and activities located here.
  • Evaluate the program by clicking on the Hey,Teachers! icon and entering the code you received from the actors.
  • Complete the program evaluation for your chance to win $250 for your classroom.

Educational Standards  

Find the related state and Next Generation Science Standards here.

Captain Wattage Educational Standards

Words to Know  

Hover over the image to reveal the definition.

A person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer

A process of voting, in writing, and typically in secret

A formal and organized choice by vote about an issue or person running for political office or other kind of position

In the U.S., the day on which elections for national public office are held, occurring annually on the first Tuesday in November

A system of government by the whole population, typically through elected representatives

The declared policy of a political person, party or group

A building where voting takes place during an election

A formal indication of a choice between candidates or courses of action, expressed through a ballot, show of hands or by voice

Lesson 1: Student Reporters in Action  

Introduction

Killowatt Kitchen

Objective

The focus of this lesson is on learning about how voters make their choices in the Presidential Election. In this lesson the students become interviewers and go out to the community to discover the most important election issues in their community.

Purpose of Activity

Read or Listen, Apply Skills

21st Century Skills

Skills and Concepts, Extended Thinking

Cognitive Level

Strategic and Extended Thinking

Class Time

1-3 days

Procedure
  1. Discuss the elections
    Ask: Why do we hold elections? Who runs in an election? Why do people vote? What are the issues that adults vote on in elections? Who are the people they vote for?
  2. Design the questions
    The class will brainstorm ideas for questions that will appear on a class interview sheet. Questions could be: What do you think is the most important issue in the upcoming election? Who do you think our next president should be?
  3. Do the interviews
    Students can practice reading and using the form by interviewing a partner in the classroom. Next, students will use the interview form to interview teachers in the building, the principal or adults at home.
  4. Student Discussion
    Have students report on their results. Students can each make one single PowerPoint slide describing the key results of their interviews. They must decide what the important story, issue or result was in their work.
Critical Thinking Questions

Click on the questions to reveal answers.

Student Reporters in Action

Source: www.GrowingVoters.org

Lesson 2: Candidate Trading Cards  

Turbine

Objective

Students will create a Presidential Candidate trading card that they can trade or keep to teach others about the candidate’s history, political party, issues, supporters and any other pertinent details.

Purpose of Activity

Read or Listen, Apply Skills

21st Century Skills

Collaboration and Creativity

Cognitive Level

Skills and Concepts, Extended Thinking

Class Time

45 minutes

Materials

Card stock paper
Ruler
Colored pens and pencils
Printed photos from the internet

Procedure
  1. Students need to look for the material they want to add to their election card. Consider having a class discussion on the material the students are finding and how it could go into an election card.
  2. Students should design an illustration or photo. This can be their own creative work or they can use something they identify on the internet.
  3. Students can create their cards in any of a range of formats: Microsoft Word doc, PowerPoint slide, paper and markers digital media, etc.
Critical Thinking Questions

Candidate Trading Cards

Source: www.GrowingVoters.org

Expanded Info: How Are Democracies Born?  

Introduction

Read this passage to your students and ask them the discussion questions that follow.

Read to your class

 

Throughout the 18th century, tensions grew between the British Empire and their 13 colonies in America. Eventually, frustrated by extremely high taxes imposed by Britain and what they saw as a lack of freedom, colonial leaders wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

A year earlier, the War of Independence (also known as the American Revolution) had begun, with the Continental Army fighting under General George Washington. The first day of the conflict was April 19, 1775; the night before, American patriots rode through the dark on horseback to warn others, “The British are coming!”

During wartime, Americans still had to make many decisions about how the country would run. They set up Continental Congresses in order to make these decisions. The second Continental Congress ran for a year as important questions about the country’s new government were debated. On November 15, 1777, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union were adopted, and finally ratified by the new states in 1781. The Articles of Confederation made some important decisions about the young American government, like the amount of power given to individual states.

British General Charles Cornwallis finally surrendered in Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781, making America an independent nation. The forefathers of America then had to start building a new government.

Eight years later, in 1789, the U.S. Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation as the blueprint for how the American government would run. Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were the first states to ratify (or approve) the Constitution. Two years later, on December 15, 1791, the first ten amendments to the Constitution – collectively known as the Bill of Rights – were adopted. These rights include the freedom of religion, speech, the press, private property, fair and impartial court trials, and peaceful assembly and petition (in other words, the right to protest peacefully).

Together, the Articles of Confederation, Constitution and Bill of Rights paved the way for how the United States would function as a country.

Source: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/index.php

Critical Thinking Questions

How Are Democracies Born?

Expanded Info: What Affects Voter Turnout Rates?  

One of your greatest rights as an American citizen is the right to vote. But each year, a number of voters choose not to participate in elections. A number of factors affect voter turnout rates, or the number of voters who show up at the polling place to cast a ballot during an election.

  • Election Type: Low turnout is most pronounced in primary elections (in which voters elect their preference for candidates in upcoming elections), off-year elections for state legislators, and local elections.

    Run-off elections (in which close calls between two or more candidates have follow-up elections) also tend to have lower turnout than first round elections. For example, of 171 regularly scheduled primary run-offs for U.S House and U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2012, the average reduction in turnout was 35.3%.

  • Voting Laws: Voter registration laws, voter identification laws, early voting and polling place accessibility can also affect voter turnout, though not always in the ways that we might expect. For example, the introduction of early voting, which was intended to make voting easier and increase turnout, appears to have actually decreased turnout.
  • Demographics: Generally speaking, voters tend to be older, wealthier and more educated than non-voters.
    • Age: Young people are much less likely to vote than older people. From 1972 to 2012, citizens 18-29 years old turned out at a rate 15 to 20 points lower than citizens 30 and older.
    • Race/ethnicity: Voter turnout also varies by race and ethnicity. In 2012, turnout rates among eligible white and black voters were 64.1% and 66.2%, respectively, while it was only 48.0% and 47.3% among Latino and Asian American voters respectively. The 2012 election was the first presidential election since post-Civil War Reconstruction ended (in 1877) in which black turnout exceeded white turnout.
    • Gender: Women’s voter turnout has surpassed men’s in every presidential election since 1980. Interestingly, older women are less likely to vote than older men.
    • Economic status: Wealthy Americans vote at much higher rates than those of lower economic status. During the 2008 presidential election, only 41% of eligible voters making less than $15,000 a year voted, compared to 78% of those making $150,000 a year or more.

Source: https://www.fairvote.org/what_affects_voter_turnout_rates

Critical Thinking Questions

What Affects Voter Turnout Rates?