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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Electoral College Teaching Resources

Yesterday, I posted a link to the Google Election resources page. Today, I have seven more resources that teachers will find useful for teaching lessons about the Electoral College.

There are many many websites featuring different interactive election maps. Each of these maps generally use the red state v. blue state graphic to show how each state voted in previous elections and what the polls are indicating for the upcoming election. For the sake of brevity I'm only going to highlight three in this blog post. Each of the following resources offer something a little more than just a map

Five Thirty Eight, named after the total number of electoral votes possible, draws on polling data from multiple polling agencies to form a variety of possible scenarios and election outcomes. The blog section of the site seems somewhat biased, but the scenarios and data are useful nonetheless.

Electoral Vote's interactive map includes data for each election back to and inclusive of 1992. The really neat feature found on Electoral Vote is the animated map that shows changes in polling results over time. Visitors can watch the map change in relation to the changes in polling data over the course of a month or year.

270 to Win, named after the number of electoral votes needed to win, has neat election simulator demonstrating possible election outcomes. Visitors to 270 to Win will also want to check out the historical election data dating back to the first election. The historical data is categorized by state.

Electoral College Lesson Plans
NARA, the US National Archive and Records Administration, has built a great website for students and teachers. The teacher page offers links to detailed lesson plans. The lesson plan titled the Tally of 1824 is one of the most thorough Electoral College lesson plans that I have seen anywhere. The Tally of 1824 lesson plan addresses not only the basic process of the Electoral College, it also includes the ideas of faithless electors and the possibility of losing the popular vote but winning the election.

The Washington Post's Electoral College Prediction Map provides teachers with an opportunity to include math in a civics lesson. When you first arrive at the map you will see that it is blank. Users select each state to be a Republican or Democratic state. The counter on the side of the map keeps track of the number of votes for each party. Students can experiment with combinations of states to create different winning scenarios. Teachers could ask students to explore this question, "what is the minimum number of states required to win?"

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention again the great video from Common Craft that explains the US Presidential Election process in plain English. Here is the video.

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