Lesson Plan

Electing A President

This app flow introduces the concepts of how we elect the president of the United States and then allows students to run their own campaign.
Eric L.
Classroom teacher
South Valley Junior High School
Liberty, MO
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My Grades 8
My Subjects Social Studies

Students will be able to understand the basic concepts of how the president of the United States is elected.

Vocabulary covered in this lesson include:

  • Electoral College
  • Incumbent
  • Campaign
  • Public Opinion Polls
  • Gerrymandering
Social Studies
Grades 6 - 9
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

The lesson begins with a simple question asked of the class, "Does your individual vote for president of the United States matter?"

Students will bring a variety of prior knowledge about the value of an individual vote.  Some will probably argue that out of millions of votes cast one vote is essentially meaningless.  Others may state that the election could come down to one vote, as the plot of a recent Hollywood movie depicted.

This discussion will set up the TED Ed video "Does Your Vote Count? - The Electoral College

2 Direct Instruction

The 270 To Win website provides students a current and historical view of how the Electoral College decides elections.

The site is highly interactive and works well in classrooms with interactive whiteboards.

Ask students to decide which 20 states they would focus their energy and campaign funds on if they were running for president.

Ask students why some states may recieve more attention as the election draws near?

Which elections in history have been won by the largest margins and the smallest margins?

What advantages and disadvantages exist for an incumbent?

3 Guided Practice

Activity: Creating

Students will view a variety of presidential campaign tv ads from different historical eras - 1952 through 2012 - using the website "The Living Room Candidate".

Students will select an issue they want to be a pillar of their platform and then watch ads which focus on that issue.

Using the online video editor included at The Living Room Candidate site students will create their own campaign ad.


4 Independent Practice

Students will watch two additional videos from TED Ed which examine additional aspects of electing the president:

1. "Gerrymandering: How drawing jagged lines can impact an election"

2. "Why Do Americans Vote on Tuesdays"

Students will take notes on each video in the form of a comic book to share with the rest of the class once completed.

5 Wrap-Up

As a final project students will play the iCivics online game "Win the White House".

This game will allow students to use the knowledge they have gained over the past several activities about the electoral process.

After completing the game students will share what they learned in a short essay.