These resources are divided into three sections:
Become a 2020 Voting Ambassador — This 10-page PDF (also available in Google slides for you to download and adapt) guides teachers to train students to be Voting Ambassadors. Students learn basics about voting — the issues and the procedures — and decide whether they’d like to take on the project of supporting others in their community to register and vote. Special attention given to carrying out this project-based learning opportunity safely during the pandemic. And we include a special article about voting during uncertain times. It is mostly intermediate- to advanced-level, and it gives students a chance to work on reading, writing, and speaking and listening skills in the context of a highly (!) relevant civics moment.
Voter Suppression vs. Fraud — During the 2020 election, we are hearing a lot about both voter suppression and voter fraud. What are they? How should we evaluate the claims about them? This 5-page PDF (also available in Google slides for you to download and adapt) offers some definitions and activities on this topic, and asks students to develop their own questions and then research the answers.
A Note about Pandemic Adaptations: Previously, we designed lesson packets for the in-person classroom, but with so many classes being online these days, we adapted our two (new for 2020) election-oriented lesson packets to be more conducive to online teaching. They are both available in Google slides. (See links above.) You can download the slides into Powerpoint or, if you have a Google account, you can copy the slideshow, adapt it as you see fit.
Ask a Candidate! Use this lesson plan which includes an exercise for developing good questions (based in part on the Right Question Project’s template). After students develop their question(s), this lesson plan guides students to write to a candidate to pose their questions. It includes a letter template and model, as well as a rubric for evaluating the letter.
Candidates Wall Activity – This is a guide to having students create an educational display of the candidates. It assumes your classes are meeting in person. For distance learning, have students create a virtual wall using presentation software.
Electing a U.S. President in Plain English – This 3 and a half minute video describes how the electoral college works.
Pick Your Candidate – This multi-faceted lesson plan helps students to understand political campaign advertising and candidate’s positions so they can make educated decisions at the polls. (Written in 1995, revised in 2007, still relevant today.)
Race and Voting Rights Lesson Packet #11 – This packet includes pre- and post-activities, a hands-on History of Voting Rights activity, a link to a history of voting rights video, an article on race and voting rights, and more stories and facts and figures about current voting restrictions.
The Change Agent’s Democracy In Action issue is full of relevant and engaging articles and activities for the ABE/ESOL classroom. For example:
- Do You Vote? Writings by adult learners, pp. 8-9
- Let’s Get Out the Adult Education Vote! Strategies for teachers and programs, pp. 28-29
- History of Voting. An engaging and informative classroom activity, pp. 30-32
- Is Voting a Right for Every Citizen? A discussion of voting rights in the contemporary context, pp. 34-36
- Voting: My Obligation to Past, Present, and Future. A Native American adult learner’s view on voting, p. 37
- What Difference Does It make? Rationale for voting, p. 51
- Politicalese: Spotting Election Campaign Tactics. Includes a matching activity, pp. 52-53
- Using the Media to Analyze Political News, p. 55
- How Do We Elect the President. Civics 101 lesson, pp. 58-60
- Referendums: A Form of Direct Democracy. Another Civics 101 lesson, p. 63-64
- What is a Caucus? Another Civics 101 lesson, p. 65
- A Simulated Town Meeting: An Experience in Democracy. Instructions for a role play, pp. 72-73
- Howard Zinn on Democracy Requires Action, Organization, and Risk, p. 66
Ballotpedia – When you enter your address on this site, it produces a sample ballot of the (state and federal) candidates and ballot questions that will appear on your local ballot when you vote in the general election. The home site (ballotpedia.org) includes a wealth of political information about every state.
Election Protection Hotline – The Election Protection Hotline is run by a nonpartisan Election Protection coalition made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners. Its goal is to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. They run three hotlines: 1-866-OUR-VOTE administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA administered by the Nat’l Assoc. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund, and 1-888-API-VOTE administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC. They also have state-specific voter information.
Fact Check – FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
Follow the Money – This is a nonpartisan archive of contributions to political campaigns. You can find out who is funding the candidates in your state.
Interactive Map of the Potential Impact of Hispanic and Asian Voters – The Partnership for a New American Economy released an interactive map that allows users to adjust Hispanic and Asian voter turnout and party support in each state to explore how new Hispanic and Asian voters could impact the 2020 presidential election.
PolitiFact – PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups.
Rock the Vote – An easy-to-use website that tells you how to register and where to vote.
Unidos Mobile App – Millennials make up almost half of Latino eligible voters in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet only 44 percent of Latinos say they plan to vote in November. That compares to 70 percent of Whites who say they will vote. The Feet in 2 Worlds project has created the Unidos mobile app to increase voter turnout by young Latinos. VoterPal by Voto Latino is another voter registration app.
votesmart.org – This site enables you to check the positions, votes, speeches, and funders of any candidate or elected official, and allows you to see how well the candidates match your own positions on issues.
Where the parties stand – A chart that summarizes where the parties stand on key issues that affect adult students. (Updated for 2020.)
Civic Participation and Citizenship Collection – Annotated web sites and original materials.
How to Watch a Presidential Debate – 7 tips on how to watch the debates and what to listen for.
icivics.org – iCivics is a non-profit organization dedicated to reinvigorating civic learning through interactive and engaging learning resources. Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics provides free lesson plans, games, and other online activities that support civic understanding and democratic action. The iCivics games place students in different civic roles and engages them in addressing real-world problems and issues.
iSideWith.com – This site hosts a quiz that allows you to compare your own positions to those of the candidates, including Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green candidates. It allows you to save your results and offers the opportunity to blog about issues or see how other voters feel.
Make your Own Political Comics – MakeBeliefsComix has published a series of new printables to encourage students to express their views of the 2020 Presidential Election. Students also can use the free comic generator to create their own comic strips about the political campaign.
News for You Voting Guide (2020) – A simply written primer on the U.S. electoral process.
PBS Election Central – PBS has created tools and resources to educate students on the process and history of elections including campaigning, local impact of national issues, how the electoral college works, fast facts and an interactive, activity-based map.
RQI Voter Engagement Workshop Materials – The Right Question Institute has developed a workshop (in two 40-minute segments) to help students think about the government decisions that affect them and why voting matters. If you register on their site, you will be sent an automatic reply with workshop materials and facilitator guide.
The Change Agent Magazine
The Change Agent provides socially relevant content, powerful student writing that inspires discussion, and ready-to-use, CCR-aligned lesson plans – all oriented toward a multi-level audience.