Vermont Votes for Kids: A project of the Vermont Secretary of State
Curriculum Grades 5-8, Teacher Materials for Lesson
Voting is Everyone's Duty
This is a project that could be completed by students from grades 5-8. A number of ideas and activities are presented in five lessons to form one complete civics curriculum. Individual teachers are free to add, subtract, or edit as they wish, depending on their interests, time constraints, and local conditions.
Rationale for a project approach to increase interest and participation in voting:
Tell students that the class will be involved in a project about the importance of voting. Inform students that they will be working in groups (teams) of five on the voting project, with each team having a specific subject to cover. Tell them also that each team will have the following members:
Ask students to determine the "fairest" way to form the groups/teams. (See STUDENT LESSON ONE) Generate alternatives and ask them to vote on the fairest method. Note: The fairest way might not be the way students would like it to be. If they have difficulty deciding on what is meant by fair, let them know that this is why we have elections. People have different ideas about a lot of things, and in our country, differences are often settled (or at least softened) by voting.
Engage the students in a discussion about the topic. Students could come up with a variety of project titles, then vote on the one they like best. (See STUDENT LESSON ONE) Examples might be:
Possible questions, leading to sub-topics:
Throughout the project, students will be sharing their beliefs and viewpoints on the importance of voting and will be eliciting similar information from others.
One thing to look for might be how students' beliefs, viewpoints and interest levels change, as they get further into the project. For example:
Ask each student to describe one important thing they learned, and how that will affect their future voting behavior (or the behavior of others). Doing this orally will have a greater impact than doing it in writing. Students can hear each other (which is reinforcing), and the teacher can make summarizing remarks along the way, e.g., "So at least four of you are going to encourage your parents to vote more often," "Many of you are looking forward to the day you can register to vote."
During the project, use language such as "When you are a voter," "After you become a registered voter," "When you become an active citizen voter." The purpose here is to imprint and reinforce the idea that every student will someday be voting.
At the conclusion of the project, ask students to "Provide examples of conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and nations."
Desired outcome from the project is that students will be able to describe the importance of being an active and informed voter and will make plans to become voters when they reach age eighteen.
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz: http://www.vermontvotesforkids.com