Below are lesson plans from Carolina K-12 that teachers can implement in conjunction with the election simulation.
Lessons are designed to be stand-alone, meaning teachers can implement as few or as many of the below modules as class time permits. Can you do the First Vote NC election simulation without using any of the lessons? Yes. Can you use the lessons without voting in the First Vote NC simulation? Yes. But the real question is, why in the world would you want to?
Teachers are encouraged to edit and adapt each module as needed to fit their own instructional goals and timing. Word files and PPT files of any of the below PDFs can be requested by sending the title of the lesson to carolinaK12@unc.edu.
Local Government Lesson Plans
While the national elections may get the most attention, we can’t forget that American democracy requires active engagement every year, especially at the local level. Local elections provide the perfect opportunity to make students aware of issues happening in their own communities and highlight the impact local government has on every single one of us. By utilizing the First Vote lessons for educating students about the services provided by and importance of local government, providing chances for students to actually interact with local government officials, and allowing students to participate in the First Vote municipal election simulation (which includes thought provoking issue-based questions in addition to local offices up for election), students will gain an understanding and appreciation of the relevance of municipal government. This guide provides various ways to prepare students for participating in the First Vote local election simulation, as well as offers suggestions for how students can interact with local government officials throughout and/or after the election process.
In this lesson, students will identify services provided by local city government and determine which government departments are responsible for various services. They will then assume the roles of city council members and prioritize various government services, allocating mock resources accordingly. Finally, students will discuss the importance of being active citizens and participating in their local governments.
Clover County, NC has received a $6 million federal grant for community improvement. But now, the County Commissioners must determine how to allocate these funds given all of the important issues facing their county. Before making a financial determination, the Commissioners are holding a public hearing where various special interest groups will advocate for how they believe the funds should be allocated. In this lesson, students will simulate the meeting of the Clover County Commissioners, gaining an active understanding of the importance of local government. Students will then examine youth voter apathy at the local level and brainstorm ideas on how to get young people engaged in voting.
In this lesson, students will learn about various local elected officials and explore the reasons for low turnout in local elections across North Carolina. Students begin by examining the various types of elections through a short reading. Next students examine the roles and responsibilities of local elected officials through a jigsaw activity. Students then explore voter turnout in North Carolina’s local elections. This lesson culminates with an activity where students have to create an action plan to overcome obstacles to voting in local elections.
Additional Lesson Plans
In order to more deeply engage students in the First Vote school-wide election process, teachers are encouraged to not only allow students to vote, but to also have students design the entire election themselves. In this activity, students in American History: Founding Principles, Civics, and Economics courses will break into teams and act as a Board of Elections, working together to plan, organize, conduct and monitor their school’s First Vote election. Students will first learn about what actual state and county Boards of Elections do, and will then think through the various components of an election as they work together to determine their school’s own election procedures. While this activity is not required when conducting the First Vote election simulation, it is an excellent way to encourage student ownership of and interest in the project. (If multiple classes/sections of American History: Founding Principles, Civics, and Economics will be completing this activity, teachers should first coordinate how the final election design plan will be selected.)
In Part I of this lesson, students will learn about the qualifications to register (or pre-register) to vote and vote in North Carolina. In Part II of this lesson, teachers have the option of facilitating student exploration of controversial voter eligibility requirements, including age, citizenship, and convicted felon status.
In this lesson, students will explore the importance of voting and gain an understanding that democracy is a process in which it is imperative that they each engage in. Through critical analysis of close elections, the impact of apathy, and millennial voting trends, students will learn that every vote – and especially the youth vote – matters.
Students will learn about registering and voting in North Carolina, particularly focusing on North Carolina’s pre-registration law, which allows 16 and 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote. The law was originally effective January 1, 2010 but was repealed in 2013 by NC’s Voter Information Verification Act. In July 2016, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a number of VIVA’s provisions and reinstated pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds. Students will explore pre-registration in the context of discussing the importance of registering and voting in general, as well as the reasons for voter apathy. This lesson will culminate with students creating a commercial to encourage North Carolina’s 16 and 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote. (For the latest about North Carolina election law, visit the State Board of Elections website at: http://www.ncsbe.gov/.)
Through introducing students to the major beliefs of each political party, this lesson is designed to dispel misconceptions about the stances each party holds. The lesson incorporates brief writing assignments, online party affiliation quizzes, and Internet research of the 2016 state and national party platforms. Students will discuss how political beliefs are formed and how party affiliation affects political behavior.
In this lesson, students will learn about the history and structure of the Electoral College. Students will view a video about the structure of the Electoral College, learn about North Carolina’s importance in the 2016 presidential election, and participate in an Electoral College simulation. The lesson will culminate with students thinking critically about the merits and drawbacks of the Electoral College as members of the Congressional Committee to Study the Electoral College, where they decide whether to keep, modify, or abolish and replace the system.
In this lesson, students will explore voter turnout in North Carolina and through a short reading, they will learn about the various reasons for depressed voter turnout in the US. Students will then learn about various “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) efforts to combat low turnout through platforms such as Twitter and various GOTV commercials. As a culminating project, students will create their own GOTV campaigns for the First Vote school-wide election simulation.
This lesson explores political propaganda, spin and soundbite politics in campaigning. Students will view television advertisements and analyze the types of propaganda in each one. They will also learn how Twitter is becoming a new version of soundbite politics as candidates seek to encapsulate their main ideas in short, 140 character messages. Students will also discuss how to become educated voters in a world of seemingly dominated by propaganda, spin, and soundbite politics.
In this lesson, students will critically examine the concept of representative democracy and its importance to American government. They will learn the difference between descriptive and agency representation as well as analyze the current demographic trends of the North Carolina General Assembly and United States Congress. The lesson includes a case study of 25-year-old Erin Schrode’s run for California’s Second District Congressional seat in spring 2016 and an in depth discussion about the financial means necessary to mount a Congressional campaign. As a culminating activity, students will examine the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court case and based on their research, create their own Constitutional Amendment regarding campaign financing.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the North Carolina legislature passed a controversial bill (HB 589, Voter Information and Verification Act, or VIVA) that, among other provisions, mandates that all North Carolinians show a valid photo ID when voting. In August 2016, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down most of VIVA’s provisions. In this lesson, students will explore existing (as of fall 2016) voting laws in North Carolina and weigh the pros and cons of bills like VIVA. Based on class discussion and the evidence they collect throughout the lesson, students will make an informed decision regarding their opinion about North Carolina’s election laws.
The election is over, so what now? Besides celebrating your win, or sobbing about your loss, analyzing the First Vote election results and voter demographics, and comparing them with other schools throughout the state, as well as the actual national results, offers fertile ground for critical thinking and discussion. This lesson provides various activities for such analyzation, as well as ways for students to share and offer their own commentary on the election process and results post-election throughout the school and community.
Alignment to the NC Essential Standards
These lessons were designed for use in American History: The Founding Principles, Civics and Economics. We encourage teachers of all grade levels and disciplines to edit and adapt the materials to meet your own classroom goals and pacing. Editable files of all of the modules can be requested by sending the file title to carolinaK12@unc.edu.
NC Essential Standards for American History: The Founding Principles, Civics and Economics
- FP.C&G.2.2 Summarize the functions of North Carolina state and local governments within the federal system of government
- FP.C&G.2.3 Evaluate the U.S. Constitution as a “living Constitution” in terms of how the words in the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been interpreted and applied throughout their existence
- FP.C&G.2.5 Compare United States system of government within the framework of the federal and state structures as well as in how they relate with governmental systems of other nations
- FP.C&G.2.6 Evaluate the authority federal, state and local governments have over individuals’ rights and privileges
- FP.C&G.2.7 Analyze contemporary issues and governmental responses at the local, state, and national levels in terms of how they promote the public interest and/or general welfare
- FP.C&G.2.8 Analyze America’s two-party system in terms of the political and economic views that led to its emergence and the role that political parties play in American politics
- FP.C&G.3.3 Analyze laws and policies in terms of their intended purposes, who has authority to create them and how they are enforced
- FP.C&G.3.4 Explain how individual rights are protected by varieties of law
- FP.C&G.3.6 Explain ways laws have been influenced by political parties, constituents, interest groups, lobbyists, the media and public opinion
- FP.C&G.3.8 Evaluate the rights of individuals in terms of how well those rights have been upheld by democratic government in the United States
- FP.C&G.4.3 Analyze the roles of citizens of North Carolina and the United States in terms of responsibilities, participation, civic life and criteria for membership or admission
- FP.C&G.4.4 Analyze the obligations of citizens by determining when their personal desires, interests and involvement are subordinate to the good of the nation or state
- FP.C&G.4.5 Explain the changing perception and interpretation of citizenship and naturalization
- FP.C&G.5.1 Analyze the election process at the national, state and local levels in terms of the checks and balances provided by qualifications and procedures for voting
- FP.C&G.5.5 Analyze the development and implementation of domestic and foreign policy by outlining opposing arguments on major issues and their efforts toward resolutions