Free Online PBS Resources Teach Students about Elections
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A free website that provides K-12 resources for students to learn about the political process has just added new tools designed to help them explore the role of the Electoral College and other aspects of this year's presidential election. Election Central was created jointly by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and PBS LearningMedia. Students also have the chance on the site to enter a writing competition that could send them to Las Vegas for the final presidential debate this year.
The new Electoral Decoder, intended for middle and high school students, includes a video about the presidential election and gives users a way to interact with a timeline for all of the 57 previous presidential elections. Students can also try out a "presidential predictor" for the upcoming election, which lets them predict who will be the winner in each state and how that would affect the candidate's electoral vote tally. A teacher's guide offers suggestions for how to use the decoder in the classroom and for outside assignments.
Election Central is designed to help students understand the Electoral College and other topics related to this year's election.
Debate resources include posters and a debate guide to help students learn how to engage in "meaningful and civil conversations with people who think differently."
A "50 for 50" contest invites students to write a letter of 500 words or fewer to a presidential candidate about the issues they most care about and explain how to get those issues passed by Congress. Two students (one in middle school and one in high school) will be invited to attend the October 19 presidential debate in Las Vegas along with the media.
All of the resources are located on the PBS LearningMedia Election Central website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.