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Presidential Elections Review by Renita Bentz and Jennifer HarrisonSilverdale Press
Presidential Elections is a unit study designed especially for middle to high school students. Its goal is to deepen your teen’s knowledge, develop thinking and research skills, and to help your student become an active, involved and informed citizen. All you need is this downloadable 80 page PDF unit study, and access to the internet.
The study is organized into eight lessons that cover: The Primaries, Parties and Conventions, Issues and Platforms, The Electoral College, Campaign Strategy, Advertising and Media, The Debates and Election Day. Students can work at their own pace and complete one lesson a week, or cover multiple lessons the weeks right before the Election. This is the ideal time to do a study like this.
The lessons include reading a written narrative. These are full of information that your student needs to know, and they are written by experts in the field. Following the reading, your student will define “Key Terms” and complete “Questions for Review” to further their understanding of the topic.
One thing that sets this unit study apart is the “Questions for Debate” and the “2016 Exercises.” Both of these apply directly to this specific Presidential Election. Debate questions can be done either individually, in a group, or as a writing assignment. The 2016 Exercises have your student completing research pertinent to this year’s election.
“Historical Exercises” are included that will help your student understand the historical significance and the changes to elections over time. “Get Involved” sections are filled with ways for your student to get involved in the election process. From registering to vote to hosting live debate parties, these are great ideas for the entire family. “On the Web” sections include helpful internet links for each lesson.
This is a comprehensive study. We enjoyed learning about the Presidential Election in depth. The questions, exercises and suggestions for getting involved provided an academically rigorous study, while keeping their interest level high. My students have really enjoyed this study, and it has gotten them informed and interested in our Presidential Election in a whole new way.
—Product review by Renita Bentz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016
Another Reviewer’s Perspective:
Our current election year has been one of confusion and chaos. As seasoned voters struggle to comprehend what has happened, I feel more strongly than ever the need to educate and equip my children who will be voting for themselves in the not-distant future.
Silverdale Press’s Presidential Elections Unit Study is written by a presidential scholar. It guides middle school and high school students through the voting process from beginning to end. The program is an 80 page PDF, which can be uploaded to a device or printed out.
I saved my copy to Google Drive so that I could access it from all of our devices, even my phone while we’re on the road. There are 8 lessons, which can be divided according to your preference. We are dividing ours out to coincide with this election year, but it could also be worked through with one or two weeks per lesson.
Each lesson averages around 9 pages and includes interesting follow-up at the end of each lesson. A list of Key Terms is shared, which are also highlighted through that lesson’s text. Students can define the terms through their reading or with outside resources. The Questions for Review are standard and help to be sure the student understood the material. I especially appreciate the Questions for Debate. Each lesson ends with several questions intended to spark conversations and encourage students to think more deeply about the material and how it applies to our lives today.
After the questions, students also have research exercises. 2016 Exercises guides students in learning more about the current election. Historical Exercises includes research assignments that help students understand how and why the election process has changed through the years. There are multiple options for all of the exercises and students can choose one or do them all.
The final two activities at the end of each lesson are Get Involved and On the Web. Get Involved shares ideas for families to become more active and involved citizens. On the Web shares reliable internet resources for further learning.
I am very impressed with this study. I think the aims of the text are admirable. The guide states the goals of the course very clearly:Goal #1: To deepen knowledge about how United States presidential elections work.
- Goal #2: To develop skills—thinking and research—through the study of presidential elections.
- Goal #3: To help students become active, interested, and involved citizens.
I’ve also been impressed with the unbiased approach the authors have taken. It is not an easy thing to share this information without inserting your own views. However, the text introduces topics and platforms fairly and kindly. It informs in a way that is respectful to both Republican and Democrat. For instance, in the lesson about platforms and policies, abortion is discussed as follows:
The Republican platform in 1980 declared, “We affirm our support of a constitutional amendment to restore protection of the right to life for unborn children.” It also declared that no taxpayer money should be used to fund abortion. In contrast, the Democratic platform declared, “a woman has a right to choose whether and when to have a child.”
The balanced approach intelligently informs students and gives them the opportunity to research and analyze the facts to form their own stance in such matters. These are difficult, but excellent conversations for families to share.
One last thing that I truly appreciate about this text is that it is something we can read and enjoy together, even with the age gap between students. Both my ten year old and my sixteen year old are able to glean quite a bit from this material. Certainly, there are things the ten year old is not yet ready to grasp, but she can participate in the lessons and learn along the way. At the same time, it is not dumbed down and it is informative for my teens and even for myself.
During a year when so many are walking away from voting altogether, this information is something that needs to be part of every student’s education. The Presidential Election Unit Study is certainly worth the risk. Silverdale offers a full refund if you are not satisfied.
—Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2016