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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Choose or Lose: The Electoral Process

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/motthall/asalcedo/Electionindex.htm

How it works:
This program focuses on the election process, nationally and locally, and gives students insights into what voters go through when choosing a candidate. Students see what issues might be important to a community as well as issues that different candidates base their platforms on. Students also gain insight into the power of statistics, through the different graphs they create. They will gain a greater understanding of the amount of information drawn from graphs and how they are used to make decisions. For example, in the first graphs students create, they not only see how many actual votes a candidate received, but also how this translates into percentages. Creating the graphs with the use of a projector saves time and assists students in the preparation of data on a spreadsheet, an important skill in itself. Being able to visualize the information through the graphs provides the means to achieve this goal.

Mathematics: Students understand various representations (tables, graphs, verbal descriptions, algebraic expressions, and Venn diagrams) of patterns and functions and the relationships among them.
Social Studies: Students gain knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history, along with methods of historical inquiry, to inform decision-making regarding public issues.

Materials used:
A computer with Internet connection is required, along with a projector, television and VCR.
TVator software is also useful.

The students:
Students should have a basic knowledge of computers, specifically word-processing and spreadsheet software. This project is intended for eighth grade and above, but could also be done with highly motivated seventh grade students. Students work individually on this project, but may work in groups to e-mail the different candidates on their points of view regarding various issues.

Overall value:
Choose or Lose: The Electoral Process gives students the opportunity to talk with candidates in-person or via the Web. They learn about the electoral process and visually see the significance of voting. They gain insight into why people vote for a particular candidate, and learn the importance of statistics in the election process, while developing their skills in this area.

Tips:
If you have the opportunity and the appropriate software (WebWhacker), download some Web pages that may be useful, and have them ready for your students.

Anthony Salcedo is the laptop coordinator at the Mott Hall School, the first inner-city public school to start a laptop program. At the school, every student carries a laptop computer. He was one of the keynote speakers at the Microsoft Laptop Summit 2000 in Seattle, Washington. He has also spoken at other technology conferences around the country, and has received recognition from two superintendents for his achievements. He has also worked as a translator in the Caribbean for a division of the U.N. Anthony is entering his tenth year in teaching.

Email: anthonysalcedo@hotmail.com

Subject Areas:                           Social Studies
Math