Free Resources to Help Students Understand the Presidential Election
- By Emily Major
Many students need help understanding the complexities of our presidential election cycle. There are online resources specific to this year's election, such as C-SPAN Classroom: Campaign 2016 and The Political Machine 2016, but the picks below are solid sites to reference during any election season.
Students will build their decision-making and critical-thinking skills as they explore the many strategic decisions involved in a presidential race. The nuts and bolts of our democratic process, including the electoral college, states' voting histories and political issues, are integral to a full understanding of this year's unique and contentious election. Get started with our top choices below:
Win the Whitehouse
Bring the election process to life with Win the Whitehouse.
: Linux, Mac, Windows
Bring the election process to life with this well-rounded civics game. Students simulate running for president and make important decisions along the way, from choosing a political party to campaigning in the right states. By selecting which political issues to champion, students learn about both partisan divides and opportunities for compromise. Tip: Use this lesson plan
to develop the persuasive-argumentation skills that are crucial to a successful political platform.
270 to Win
Though beginners may need guidance using 270 to Win, it's a great resource to learn about the electoral college and the history of presidential elections in the United States.
Though beginners may need guidance using this website, it's a great resource to learn about the electoral college and the history of presidential elections in the United States. Students can use the interactive maps to track past election cycles or create a map based on their own predictions for the current race. There's also a blog, quizzes, and a 2016 election simulator to explore. During the live election in November, students can watch as the electoral votes come in and will understand the importance of the number 270.
iSideWith is updated regularly to stay current on the issues, making it great for exploring political views and hot-button topics.
This nonpartisan site, updated regularly to stay current on the issues, is great for exploring political views and hot-button topics. Students take a quiz on a range of topics and then see how their views align with the major political parties. Once they've identified their own political leanings, students can explore a collection of resources, including news stories, heat maps, and discussion threads, to learn more about the issues. While not created specifically for the classroom, this site is an accessible and engaging resource.
Emily Major is project coordinator of education content for Common Sense Education.
Common Sense Education helps educators find the best edtech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Go to Common Sense Education for free resources including full reviews of digital tools, ready-made lesson plans, videos, webinars, and more.