In 2016, I decided that I wanted to help my students understand the election process a bit better. Often times, my student’s questions made me realize that they had very little understanding or knowledge about the U.S. process for picking a president. I wanted them to know more about this process, and I needed them to be able to learn about it in a way that wasn’t divisive. Also, I really wanted them to be able to interact with the process without having it overwhelm my regular curriculum.
I decided that I would create a bulletin board to keep track of the candidates and the primaries. I printed and cut out the heads of each candidate and I created a giant chart to keep track of each primary race. Every time there was a primary, I updated the bulletin board with the new numbers.
I didn’t expect much of a reaction from my students, but I knew that they would at least be more aware of how the candidates were narrowed down to the nominee. Honestly, I would be happy even if they were more likely to recognize the candidate’s faces!
My 2016 Election Bulletin Board
Surprisingly, my election bulletin board was a complete hit! Every day there was a new primary, my students would pile in to see the results on the bulletin board. Kids new when the next primary would occur and were discussing the candidates and who they thought would come out the winner. They were so excited when a candidate dropped out and I placed an X over their face. They would even come into class knowing the results, and they would check to see if I had updated the chart. I was so happy to see the election incorporated into my class in a natural and easy way.
A New Bulletin Board for 2020
For the election of 2020, I decided to expand slightly on my original bulletin board idea. I created more official-looking posters with each candidate’s name and current position. I then created a list of all of the primary and caucus dates, an easier chart for me to update with each candidate’s delegate number, and some term definitions. My students will also be participating in a debate about the electoral college. My goal is with these two ideas in combination, students will walk away with a much better understanding of the election process and an ability to critique that process.
I’m really interested to see how students react to the electoral process this time around. My AP students have already been asking when the “heads” will appear again, so I know that this bulletin board is for them also. (I have some of my seventh-grade students again for AP. It’s a really special and unique situation I have at my school.) I know they’ll react when each new primary date is added to the wall and each candidate drops for contention.
I decided that many of my Social Studies teacher friends might share in my excitement for teaching the election. Sometimes, teachers get nervous about wading into political waters. However, I’ve found that this bulletin board allowed me to talk about the election without having my class become politically divisive. If you’d like a copy of my bulletin board, just click this link. The file is editable, so you can edit any aspect of the bulletin board to meet the needs of your classroom.
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Just click here to grab your copy of my 2020 Election Bulletin Board!