There is no more exciting time to be a social studies teacher than during an election year. The newspaper provides a connection to dozens of topics that connect the content directly to the world of the students. From the war in Iraq to the recently released census report on poverty, this year’s election provides an incredible array of topics for world history, U.S. history, civics and economics classrooms. The following sites were selected to help teachers begin the year with political excitement and high student motivation for learning history-social science. Please send ideas for other sites as you find them.
Margaret ‘Peg’ Hill, Ph.D.
Director, SCORE History-Social Science





What better way to bring reason to the political arguments of the presidential campaign than to examine the work and qualifications of past presidents at:

American Presidency
http://www.americanpresident.org/history/h_home.shtml
Select an era and review the achievements and qualifications of the American presidents from that time. There is a scholarly article about each and a synopsis of their domestic policy, economic policy, legislative affairs, national security, presidential politics, administration of the government, and administration of the White House. The site was developed and is maintained by the Miller Center for Public Policy.

If the election process itself is what intrigues you, the Presidential Campaign Memorabilia from the Duke University Special Collections Library will tantalize with a wealth of campaign posters, buttons and other paraphernalia from past candidates and parties. See America Votes http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/americavotes/.

For serious political junkies, SCORE H-SS’s 2004 Presidential Elections has a great selection of sites, including:

About Elections and Voting
http://www.fec.gov/elections.html
Presidency 2004
http://www.politics1.com/p2004.htm
Project Vote Smart
http://www.vote-smart.org/election_president.php
The 2004 U.S. Presidential Election
http://politicalweb.info/2004/2004.html
Democracy in Action: Race for the White House
http://www.gwu.edu/~action/P2004.html
Easy Voter guide
http://www.easyvoter.org/california/resources/index.html


To catch the real political spin however, you will have to visit the sites of the political parties:

Republican campaign information can be found at GOP.com <http://www.rnc.org/>, the site of the Republican National Committee. Here you will find a fact log or FLOG, the chairman’s corner, speeches, news releases and much more. For the Democrats, the Democratic National Committee <http://www.democrats.org/> site has a section called “Our Democratic Values” describing the party’s view of what needs to be done in the areas of jobs, environment, health care, national security, and education. There is also the “Daily Blog” and the “Cartoon of the Day.” Nader fans need to check out Nader for President 2004 <http://www.votenader.org>. Here you will find the key points of Nader’s platform and a plea to include his party on the ballots. All the sites provide a link for people who want to contribute or volunteer to work on the campaigns.


Teaching about the election process, and the Electoral College is made exciting through the use of the following updated teaching activities on the SCORE H-SS site.

For example, Larry Gann’s Electing the President: The American Electoral College System <http://www.historywise.com/lp_electoral.htm> examines the Electoral College system and helps students evaluate it effect. Alternately, teachers might use Barry Bieda’s lesson The Electoral College: Is it still a plausible system for electing our President? at <http://www.socialstudies.com/c/@e_k6A3jPLafmg/Pages/electoral.html>.

Students will look more closely at the differences between the political parties after doing the Building Your Own Political Platform lesson at http://www.historywise.com/lp_buildplatform.htm. Students can examine the campaigning process through Melan Jaich’s Media Survey Project: Television News Coverage of the Presidential Election <http://www.historywise.com/lp_mediasurvey.htm>. This lesson guides students through a field research and evaluation of the broadcast media’s coverage of the presidential campaign. Then the League of Women Voters show students How to Judge a Candidate at <http://www.smartvoter.org/voter/judgecan.html> by requiring them to examine many choices that help them make judgments on candidates and issues.


When it comes to issues, the news is your best source.

To keep up on the political news in the U.S., as well as perspectives from other countries, see SCORE H-SS Online News Sources http://score.rims.k12.ca.us/score_newsonline.html. At Analyzing Election Cartoons http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/teachers/lessonplans/
socialstudies/Vote2004/political_cartoons.html
use political cartoons as a way to learn about the upcoming presidential election by examining them to identify and understand the candidates’ stance on the issues and to think critically about politics and the election process. After reviewing issues from the news, classroom debate is a must. Several sites provide ideas for setting up an effective debate process for students with various levels of experience, including Education World’s Debates in the Classroom http://educationworld.com/a_curr/strategy/strategy012.shtml, Urban Debate League’s Teaching Debate http://debate.uvm.edu/code/001.html or Teaching Policy Debate http://www.teachingdebate.com/.

Bring student interest in the election to a crescendo by holding a mock election at your school An easy way to do this is to join the National Student/Parent Mock Election at http://www.nationalmockelection.com. Mock Election Day is October 28 is open to all schools without charge and curriculum materials to prepare students are available at the website.



Enjoy teaching about the issues and the election process. Share ideas by emailing me at peg_hill@sbcss.k12.ca.us


Last revised: 09.01.04