Friday, July 06, 2012

Teaching the Presidential Election: Candidates' Letters to America's Children?

I'm anticipating a fall full of election news and stories.  My students will come to school talking about this, and I will use it as a chance to teach democracy, and the fact that every American adult has the chance to participate in this election.

I was thinking about the material I will use to teach the students about each candidate. I don't include my own personal view point in my election teaching, instead I teach it in a pure way encouraging children to research and get to know each candidate.

During the last election, I taught fifth grade.  We read the biographies of each candidate aloud.  Then students wrote speeches in favor of each candidate.  We had a rally, and the school children voted in a mock election. Then we announced the results.  That was a great match for the fifth graders' American History curriculum.

Now I'm teaching fourth grade.  What materials will I use?  What I'd like to use is a letter written by each candidate to America's children.  I'd like each candidate to pen a letter to America's children telling the children a little about their life, their beliefs and their ideas and dreams for America's youth.  I hope the candidates will do that. Perhaps the New York Times, Boston Globe or Washington Post will carry those letters so that every teacher in the United States can introduce the candidates using the candidates' own words and ideas.

Will you teach the election? What materials will you use?  How will you instill the values and information related to our democracy in your endeavor?  Can we motivate each candidate to write a letter to America's youth?  What is the best venue for publishing those letters?