Showing posts with label Electoral College. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Electoral College. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Five Last Minute Resources for Teaching About the Electoral College

We're one week away from the U.S. Presidential election. While citizens cast their votes next week, the final selection happens in the Electoral College in December. That's a concept that can be tricky for some students to understand. If you're looking for some last minute resources for teaching about the Electoral College, take a look at this small collection. (Related note, I think I need this Electoral College tee shirt). 

DocsTeach is one of my favorite sites for history teachers. It contains tons of online activities built upon primary sources. The activity about the Electoral College asks students to evaluate six primary sources and put them into the correct sequence. The purpose of the lesson is to help students understand the steps taken in the Electoral College process of choosing a President. 

Does Your Vote Counts? is a TED-Ed lesson that offers a short explanation of the Electoral College by answering the question, "does your vote count?" The video for the lesson is embedded below.


How the Electoral College Works from C.G.P. Grey gives a nice overview of the Electoral College. The video isn't perfect, I wish the producer had included that the number of Electoral votes a state receives is tied to the number of Senators and Representative it has. Instead the video simply stated that the number of Electoral votes is tied to population. Overall, it's not a bad summary of the Electoral College.


Electing a US President produced by Common Craft provides a concise overview of the election process. The version embedded below is an update to the original that Common Craft released and I used in my classroom during the 2008 election.


Keith Hughes produced two videos about how the Electoral College was developed and how it works. The first video below is just one minute long. The second video, The Electoral College for Dummies, goes into much more depth.



Disclosure: I have a long-standing, in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Handful of Videos to Help Students Understand the Electoral College

You can't go to a news site today and not see something about the upcoming U.S. Presidential election. When you do go to those sites you'll often find current polling data about the popularity of a given candidate and or the probability of a candidate winning. Those polls don't always predict who will win because the most popular (nationwide) candidate doesn't always win. That's due to the Electoral College system that we use to pick a president in the U.S. This is a concept that baffles a lot of students. Should you find yourself looking for some videos to help students understand how the Electoral College works, consider one of the following.

Does Your Vote Counts? is a TED-Ed lesson that offers a short explanation of the Electoral College by answering the question, "does your vote count?" The video for the lesson is embedded below.


How the Electoral College Works from C.G.P. Grey gives a nice overview of the Electoral College. The video isn't perfect, I wish the producer had included that the number of Electoral votes a state receives is tied to the number of Senators and Representative it has. Instead the video simply stated that the number of Electoral votes is tied to population. Overall, it's not a bad summary of the Electoral College.


Electing a US President produced by Common Craft provides a concise overview of the election process. The version embedded below is an update to the original that Common Craft released and I used in my classroom during the 2008 election.


Keith Hughes produced two videos about how the Electoral College was developed and how it works. The first video below is just one minute long. The second video, The Electoral College for Dummies, goes into much more depth.



Disclosure: I have a long-standing, in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Electoral College Explained by Common Craft

We still have a long way to go in the party primary and caucuses before the Democratic nominee for President will be chosen. And then we have even longer until we go to the polls to choose a President of the United States. And a President is finally elected through the Electoral College. How the Electoral College system works is a bit confusing to some students. Fortunately, Common Craft offers a nice little video explanation of how it works.

How the U.S. Elects a President provides a concise overview of the Electoral College. The version embedded below is an update to the original that Common Craft released and I used in my classroom in 2008.


Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Monday, November 7, 2016

5 Videos to Help Students Understand the Electoral College

A new President of the United States will be chosen tomorrow, kind of. The popular vote which in most states determines how the electors in the Electoral College will vote in December. If that sentence baffles your students, they could benefit from one of the following short video explanations of the Electoral College.

This TED-Ed lesson offers a short explanation of the Electoral College by answering the question, "does your vote count?" The video for the lesson is embedded below.


Common Craft offers The Electoral College in Plain English.



How the Electoral College Works, embedded below, gives a nice overview of the Electoral College. The video isn't perfect, I wish the producer had included that the number of Electoral votes a state receives is tied to the number of Senators and Representative it has. Instead the video simply stated that the number of Electoral votes is tied to population. Overall, it's not a bad summary of the Electoral College.



Keith Hughes has produced two videos about how the Electoral College was developed and how it works. The first video below is just one minute long. The second video goes into much more depth.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Electoral Decoder Shows Students the Math of Presidential Elections

Throughout 2016 PBS has been steadily adding more features to their Election Central website for students. Electoral Decoder is one of the recent additions to the site that I discovered through an ad on Facebook.

Electoral Decoder uses cartograms to show students the math of the Electoral College. In other words, it shows them that geographically large states like Wyoming have fewer Electoral votes than geographically smaller states with large populations. The Electoral Decoder also illustrates how a candidate can be the victor in the majority of states while losing the overall election. Finally, students can use the Electoral Decoder to identify voting patterns along geographic lines. For example, in 1860 Lincoln won the general election without being the victor in any of the southern states.

Students can use the timeline slider on the Electoral Decoder to view the outcome of any and all Presidential Elections in the history of the United States. Below the cartogram and timeline for each election, students will find resources like videos to learn more about each election.

Applications for Education
One of the neat things that students can do with the Electoral Decoder is look at how many possible ways a candidate could win an election. Challenge your students to figure out how many combinations of states would work for a candidate to win this year's election.

Videos explaining the Electoral College:
This TED-Ed lesson offers a short explanation of the Electoral College by answering the question, "does your vote count?" The video for the lesson is embedded below.


Common Craft offers The Electoral College in Plain English.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

C-SPAN Offers a Free Electoral College Poster and Lesson Plans

C-SPAN Classroom is one of my go-to sources of ideas for lessons on current events related to U.S. government and politics. Membership in C-SPAN Classroom is free and provides members with lots of digital and physical resources. One of the resources C-SPAN Classroom is currently offering to members is a poster about the Electoral College.

C-SPAN's 2016 Electoral College Map shows the number of Electoral votes each state has in 2016. The poster also includes the Electoral vote and popular vote tallies of the every election dating back to 1900. You can get a copy of the poster here.

Applications for Education
The poster on its own is nice, but students will need some guidance in understanding what all of the information really means. To that end C-SPAN Classroom offers a set of guiding questions to use with your students in conjunction with the 2016 Electoral College Map.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Electoral College Explained

We're choosing a new President of the United States this year. We're still in the primary and caucus phase of picking candidates. Once that's done we'll be moving toward the general election in the fall. But unlike other elections in which popular vote decides the winner, the president is chosen based on the outcome of the Electoral College votes. It's a bit of a complicated process. Both of the videos embedded below do a good job of succinctly explaining how the Electoral College works.

How the Electoral College Works, embedded below, gives a nice overview of the Electoral College. The video isn't perfect, I wish the producer had included that the number of Electoral votes a state receives is tied to the number of Senators and Representative it has. Instead the video simply stated that the number of Electoral votes is tied to population. Overall, it's not a bad summary of the Electoral College.


Another good video overview of the Electoral College can be found in Common Craft's Electing a US President in Plain English. The video can be viewed on YouTube, but cannot be embedded unless you're a subscriber to Common Craft's service. (Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Three Good Videos About The Electoral College

Voting Day in the U.S. is just around the corner now. As the results of the Presidential Election roll-in your students may have questions about The Electoral College. Here are three videos that could help your students wrap their minds around how The Electoral College votes are tallied as well as some arguments for and against The Electoral College.

Common Craft's The Electoral College in Plain English has been my go-to explanatory video on the topic for years. The system is presented without bias, just the facts and none of the pro-con arguments.


TED-Ed has a new video about The Electoral College that explains how the votes are tallied then jumps into a little bit of the pro-con arguments about it. As someone who spent a lot of time researching and numbers-crunching The Electoral College as an undergraduate (my exit thesis was fifty pages of Electoral College fun) I think that the TED-Ed video leaves out some key points in both arguments, but it is an adequate primer for high school students.


Finally, Keith Hughes has a video about the 2000 Presidential Election. The video is about all of the key issues associated with that election including the Supreme Court's final ruling on Bush v. Gore.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Electoral College in Plain English

Election Day is less than one month away in the United States. If you're planning to discuss the Electoral College with your students in the next month, consider using The Electoral College in Plain English as a part of your lesson. The video, produced by Common Craft, is now available to embed in your classroom blog or website. Common Craft doesn't usually make embed codes available if you don't a membership in their library so grab this video while you can.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lessons and Posters About the Electoral College

I'm a registered member of C-SPAN Classroom and I think that anyone who teaches U.S. Civics and Government can benefit from being a member too. Membership is free and sometimes you'll receive emails for free physical stuff like this offer for an Electoral College Map and Poster. If you don't want the poster you should at least check out the lesson ideas that are featured on the offer page.

Applications for Education
C-SPAN Classroom features three lesson ideas along with the free poster (small PDF versions of the poster are also available for download). The simplest lesson is one sheet of questions about the Electoral College that students can answer by using the poster.

Electoral College Pros/Cons and Alternatives is a lesson that requires students to read positions, watch video clips, and then form an opinion before engaging in classroom debate.

The Electoral College and the Constitution is a series of activities that asks students to examine the origins and intent of the Electoral College before examining the Electoral College's role in modern elections.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Videos About the Electoral College and the Presidents

The US History Teachers Blog brought my attention to this video, How the Electoral College Works. The video, embedded below, gives a nice overview of the Electoral College. The video isn't perfect, I wish the producer had included that the number of Electoral votes a state receives is tied to the number of Senators and Representative it has. Instead the video simply stated that the number of Electoral votes is tied to population. Overall, it's not a bad summary of the Electoral College.


Another good video overview of the Electoral College can be found in Common Craft's Electing a US President in Plain English. The video can be viewed on YouTube, but cannot be embedded unless you're a subscriber to Common Craft's service. (Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft).


Here are two short, fun videos listing the Presidents in order.
The "classic" US Presidents music video is the Animaniacs Presidents song. Unfortunately, it's a bit dated now as it ends with Clinton.


Here is a Flocabulary-style rap of all 44 Presidents. It's a clean rap and even if the chorus might drive you nuts, your students might like it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bush v. Gore Ten Years Later

To some of us (particularly those who were passionate undergrad political science students in 2000) it seems like just yesterday Bush v. Gore was decided. It's now been ten years ago the 2000 Presidential Election was decided in favor of George Bush. CBS News has a short video recapping the story. Watch the video below.



If you show the CBS News video to your students, you may also want to show Common Craft's Electing a US President in Plain English.


Applications for Education
The case of Bush v. Gore should be included in any high school Civics discussion about the Electoral College. After watching the videos about and reading about Bush v. Gore have students compare and contrast the circumstances and resolution of that case with the 1876 Presidential Election featuring Tilden v. Hayes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

9 Resources for Learning About US Presidents

Here's a short list of resources for teaching and learning about US Presidents and the office itself.

Electing a President

The Living Room Candidate is an online exhibit of Presidential Campaign commercials from 1952 through 2004. The Living Room Candidate is part of a larger project called the Museum of the Moving Image. Visitors to The Living Room Candidate can view the commercials from each campaign from both parties. A written transcript is provided with each commercial. Provided along with each video is an overview of the political landscape of at the time of the campaigns. Visitors to the website can search for commercials by election year, type of commercial, or by campaign issue.

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.

Common Craft's Electing a US President in Plain English does a nice job of explaining how the Electoral College system works.

Inaugurating a New President

Videos of every inaugural address from Eisenhower through George W. Bush is available through Hulu.

Governing Dynamo has built a gallery containing the text of every US President's inaugural address(es). In addition to the text, the gallery includes a Wordle of every address and an image of the President who delivered that address. Finally, Governing Dynamo hosts a video overview of the Wordles in the gallery.

The Chronology of US Presidents

The video embedded below depicts the 44 US Presidents in 4 minutes. This video includes the dates of the time in office for each president.

This video is a bit dated as it ends with Clinton's term, but it's educational and entertaining.

The Lives of the Presidents

The Miller Center of Public Affairs hosts a very good reference resource about US Presidents. The Miller Center's reference, American President, provides personal and political biographical information about every US President. Each profile links to dozens of essays about various aspects of each President's life and work. Each profile also contains images of each President. Some profiles also include audio files and video of the President.

American Presidents Life Portraits is a C-Span series that originally aired a few years ago. The series profiled each of the US Presidents. The profiles were very well produced as each one struck a good balance between profiling the politics of each president and profiling the personal details of each president. (If you enjoyed HBO's Adams series, make sure you also watch C-Span's profile of Adams). Most of the original profiles can be watched online using Real Player. Each segment is also available for purchase.

C-Span also has a few great activities that students can explore on their own or with teacher guidance. Career Paths to the Presidency lets students examine the various routes that presidents took to the White House. Shaping the Nation and the Presidency highlights eight key events that shaped the United States. Each of the eight events contains a video clip explaining the event's significance. The American Presidents timeline quiz is a fifty question interactive quiz.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My List of Election Lesson Resources

Personally, I feel worn out by all of the campaign commercials and campaign news coverage. Therefore, this could be the last post I make about the 2008 election season. It's been a long campaign throughout which I have posted various resources that I've found to be of use when teaching lessons about the election. The following is a list of the most popular resources that I posted over the last nine months.

Election Process Explained by Common Craft
Electoral College Teaching Resources
Free Stanford University Political Science Course
2008 US Presidential Election Maps
American Presidents Lesson Plans
Two for Next Tuesday
A Lesson Plan for After the Election

Throughout the last couple of months two great places for election lesson resources have been Larry Ferlazzo's blog and Jeffery Hill's blog. In fact, today Jeffery Hill posted another great video to help people understand the election process in the United States. The video is embedded below.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Free Stanford University Political Science Course

Dan Colman at Open Culture and some of his colleagues have developed a free course presented by Stanford University. The course will explore the geography of US Elections and explore the idea of "Red States" versus "Blue States." The course starts October 15th and runs for five weeks to include reflection on the outcome of the 2008 election. Professor Martin Lewis will be the moderator of discussions. You can read more about the course here or watch the introductory video below.



Applications for Education
If you're a high school teacher looking for a way to challenge students interested in the 2008 US Presidential Election or your looking for some professional development for yourself this free Stanford Course may be for you.

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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

US Election Process Explained By Common Craft

The nice folks at Common Craft have produced another great video to explain a sometimes confusing concept in very plain English. In this video Common Craft explains in plain English how the United States elects a president. This short video will be used in my classroom this fall as I introduce my US History and Civics students to the Electoral College.