Use a 3D-printed Electoral College Map to help students understand the U.S. voting system and think more critically about its merits and drawbacks.
Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 ( Grades 6-8 Literacy in History/Social Studies ): Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7 ( Grades 11-12 English Language Arts ): Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7 ( Grade 6 English Language Arts ):Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.7 ( Grade 7 English Language Arts ):Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.7 ( Grade 8 English Language Arts ):Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 ( Grades 9-10 English Language Arts ): Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5 ( Grades 11-12 English Language Arts ): Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.5 ( Grade 6 English Language Arts ):Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.5 ( Grade 7 English Language Arts ):Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.5 ( Grade 8 English Language Arts ):Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5 ( Grades 9-10 English Language Arts ): Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
National Standards for Civics (Center for Civic Education)
II D1. Explain that the central focus of democracy is that the people are the source of authority for government and how that idea is related to free elections and widespread participation.
II D2. Define a “republic” as a state in which the citizenry as a whole is considered sovereign but which is governed by elected representatives rather than directly by the people, as in direct democracy.
III E4. Evaluate the significance of campaigns and elections in the American political system.
V E5. Students should be able to explain the importance of knowledge to competent and responsible participation in American democracy.
Students will explore the creation of the Electoral College.
Students will examine arguments in favor and against the Electoral College.
Students will examine the Electoral Map and the path to 270.
Have students work in pairs to discuss and complete the Electoral Map portion utilizing an internet connected device. You may wish to have them screenshot their 2016 map if completing the activity prior to the 2016 election and compare their map with the actual results.
Video & Interactive: PBS Electoral Decoder (PBS)
Video: Electoral College Analysis (C-SPAN)
Article: “What It All Means: The Mysterious Working of the Electoral College” (TIME)
Reading: Arguments for the Electoral College (Gilder Lehrman Institute)
Reading: Arguments Against the Electoral College (Gilder Lehrman Institute)
Graphic Organizer: Electoral College: Addressing the Issues (Gilder Lehrman Institute)
Map: 2016 Electoral Map (C-SPAN)
Handout: 2016 Electoral College Map Activity Questions (C-SPAN)
Video: Electoral College Analysis #2 (C-SPAN)
Print out a 3D Electoral Map prior to conducting the lesson.
Have the students go to the table where the 3D Electoral Map is and take a look at it.
Ask the students what do they know about the Electoral College to establish a baseline of student knowledge. Do they think it functions effectively? Should we use a popular vote to elect the president?
Play the PBS Electoral Decoder video and CSPAN Electoral College Analysis video to set the scene for the next few days topic of study. Let the students know that the 3D map is a cartograph map of the Electoral College that you will be exploring over the next few days.
Read the Time “What It All Means” article together, ensuring students understand the Electoral College.
IF completing the lesson before the 2016 election, let the students know that they will want to explore the news regarding the election and state predictions.
Have students read Arguments for the Electoral College and Arguments Against the Electoral College and complete the Electoral College: Addressing the Issues graphic organizer. Review the student responses and clarify any misunderstandings.
Have the students go to the 2016 Electoral Map from CSPAN. Review the map and the three data types with the students. Connect the vote allocation to the size of the states in the 3D map. Next, have the students work on completing the Electoral Map Activity Questions.
If desired, show the students the Electoral College Analysis #2 video.
Having examined the maps, let the students know they are going to role play. They are the political scientist. Have the students go to the PBS Electoral Decoder site and select Explore Elections below the video. Select the right side arrow for the Election of 2016 and use their knowledge to make a prediction as to who will win the states in the 2016 election. Examine prior elections and make the connection to the electoral vote allocation to size of the state’s population as represented in the 3D map.
Do they think the Electoral College is fair? Why?
Should the US switch to an election based on popular vote? Why?/Why not? What would be the implications?
Why did they make the predictions as they did in their electoral maps?
Have the students screenshot their 2016 map if completing the activity prior to the 2016 election and compare their map with the actual results.