The Cable News Network (CNN) is distributing a complete curriculum unit, called “The America Votes 2004 Teaching Kit,” to schools nationwide. The kit includes a CD-ROM loaded with television news videos about the U.S. election process, an election game, and a poster that serves as the game board
“This kit is designed to illustrate the various stages of the presidential election process,” said Jerry DeMink, vice president of CNN News Services.
The idea of the game is to have students move along the road to the White House, covering each event along the way as a news correspondent. Students complete activities such as watching a historical presidential debate and writing a news report about it.
|CNN anchor Susan Hendricks is the host of the “America Votes 2004 Teaching Kit,” which helps students get excited about the presidential election process. (Photo courtesy of CNN)
“It’ll hold kids’ attention. It’s interesting. It’s multimedia,” said Donna Krache, director of curriculum development at CNN Student News. “And it will explain things that are not easily understood–like primaries and caucuses.”
BrainPOP, which makes animated educational movies, recently added a new election movie to its web site that explains the Electoral College process to students. Students also learn who is eligible to become president, what the primaries are, and how the Democratic nominees were narrowed down to John Kerry.
“The movie tries to connect its information to news and current events concerning the election,” said Yves Saada, the company’s chief operating officer. After the movie is finished, students can take a short quiz to test their new knowledge.
BrainPOP offers two free movies per day on its web site. For access to additional movies, teachers, parents, and school officials can register for BrainPOP’s year-long subscription. Teachers pay roughly $134.95 per year for BrainPOP access.
Weekly Reader and its online site are offering election coverage in an effort, called “Promote the Vote,” to educate students nationwide about the presidential election and the voting process.
The web site features election news as reported by student correspondents, as well as games that test students’ knowledge of presidents, the election process, and the United States government. Teachers can receive daily updates about the campaign race, and Weekly Reader was also planning to distribute election books and other materials pertaining to the election to classrooms this month.
In the weeks before the November election, the web site for Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg will offer an “interview” with Thomas Jefferson.
A Colonial Williamsburg employee, dressed as Thomas Jefferson, will respond on camera to questions that were pertinent to presidential politics 200 years ago and today. A new question and video clip will be added to the Colonial Williamsburg web site every few days until the election.
Cingular Wireless, a joint venture between SBC Communications and BellSouth, tapped journalism students from Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley to provide election coverage on a page of its web site called the Wireless Election Connection moblog.
The students, equipped with camera phones and guided by professional journalists, posted video, pictures, and audio on the moblog of the events at the Republican National Convention in late August.
Earlier this year, “digital reporters” from the University of South Carolina, Emerson College, and Northeastern University covered the events at the Democratic National Convention. According to Cingular, the team posted 437 stories, averaging approximately one every 10 minutes, and the site received 15,000 hits.
The Constitutional Rights Foundation has created a web site, called Election Central, to help teachers and students explore the electoral process, past and present, in the United States and around the world. The site covers the electoral process, profiles the current presidential candidates, and offers media resources and lesson plans.
The Election Co-nection project, developed by professional development company Co-nect, offers several online and offline activities for students in grades K-12 to learn about voting, the election process, and democracy.
The site also will hold two mock elections this fall. In the first mock election, called Vote for President, students in all grades can go online between Oct. 18 and 22 and vote for the candidate of their choice–either George W. Bush or John Kerry. In the second mock election, students can create fictitious candidates and nominate them by Oct. 8 to run in a virtual election. Students will vote for their favorite fictitious candidate from Oct. 11 to 15.
More than 40,000 students participated in the Election Co-nection project during the 2000 presidential election, and the majority correctly predicted the results of the actual election, Co-nect said.
eSchool News editorial intern Laura Ascione contributed to this report.