3 Ways to Build Student Awareness of the Election Process

Emma Foley
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on November 16 2021

The fall months might seem to be the best time to engage students in voting but realistically, there is never a wrong time to get students involved in voting and familiarize them with the election process. For most, knowledge of voting starts with the instruction and practice students receive in school. 

There are many simple activities that will build civic awareness. Some use the features on your interactive whiteboard for in-class votes. Others are more detailed activities like using Google Forms or a paid subscription site like Voting 4 Schools to host schoolwide elections like student body elections, prom/homecoming, etc. Let’s take a look at three options for engaging students in voting:

  1. Response Systems on an Interactive Whiteboard If you’ve been an educator for a while, you may remember the old days of student response voting systems. These systems were cumbersome and involved individual remotes that looked similar to TV remotes – each student would use a remote to cast a vote. Luckily for teachers, these student audience response systems have come a long way. Now, students can pretty much use the platform associated with their interactive whiteboard (i.e. Lumio for SMART, ClassFlow for Promethean, etc.) and any device to participate in these polling activities. As long as they know the code associated with their teacher’s class, they can participate in voting activities of any sort without needing an additional gadget.The opportunities are pretty much endless when it comes to these systems because the teacher is in control of the content that they use within these templated voting activities and can use them to have students brainstorm, encourage healthy debate, or even use them to assess students on previously taught content. As long as the teacher can input the question on their end, the students can reply back through their personal devices from their seat or even remotely. Once all students have had the opportunity to contribute, most times the program will even do the calculations for the teacher and deliver the results as a table, graph, pie chart, etc.
    • Since the election process involves many Tier II vocabulary terms, start with vocabulary instruction.
      • For K-5 students Use a simple true/false format on Lumio’s Response, displaying statements containing election-related vocabulary and asking students to vote t/f on each from their devices.
      • For 6th-12th grade students you can do a “one of us is lying” activity. Choose 3 students to present civics or election vocabulary definitions. Secretly assign two of them real definitions and give the other one the opportunity to make up a false definition. Students will present their definitions, then the class would use their individual devices to vote on which presenter is “lying”.
    •  If you are looking for less academic focused activities, you could also stick to the voting theme and have students vote for which classmate they would vote for “principal for a day.” This  will get students familiar with the process of voting for a position of power.
  2. External Polling Websites A tried and true favorite polling website is Plickers. Plickers is a free card activity that your students will love. For those who like to arrive to start the school day early, Plickers activities are easy enough to designed the morning of class. These activities are a great way to do a quick check for understanding. They also provide helpful feedback that can support data driven instruction and exposure to the voting process. It’s also a great opportunity to give students jobs in the classroom. For example, have a different student assigned to pass out “Plickers paddles”, a different student to do the scan of the room, and a different student to collect the paddles and organize them for the next time.Another great external site is Voting 4 Schools. This is a great option for when you have a larger number of students participating in the vote, such as a whole student body or possibly even a whole school. There is an upload roster option and the site will do all the calculations for you once the voting period has closed. This saves you a ton of time, especially because you won’t need to hand count 300+ ballots to find out who is the next Homecoming King or Queen. Basically, all you have to do is login and view the results. Although this is a paid site, you can even sign up for a demo to see if they offer everything you are looking for in terms of your school vote needs.
  3. Google FormsThe final option to discuss is Google Forms, which is built right into your Google Workspace for Education. With Google Forms, you can customize things like background themes, question types, how you push out candidate names, and even adding in multimedia like candidate speeches. With the options to embed images and/or videos you can really use it as a one-stop-shop for a school election. For more ideas and a walk through, check out our OTIS for educators course, Using Google Forms for School Elections that aired earlier this month.There are plenty of options out there for incorporating voting, polls and elections in your classroom or schoolwide. What’s worked well for you in the past, or what are you excited to try out? Join the conversation by sending us an email or leaving a comment.

 


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.


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