Elections 101:
A Curriculum For Iowans, By Iowans

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In the midst of an election year with the elections quickly approaching, the Secretary of State wanted to give teachers an opportunity to engage their students through meaningful discussion and active participation. Developed by Iowa teachers for Iowa teachers, Elections 101 is a curriculum designed for flexibility with an emphasis on social media enhancements to appeal to how students learn today.

The ultimate goal of Elections 101 is to involve students, parents, and the community in civic engagement while educating them about Iowa’s unique role in the political process through modern technology and social media enhancements.

Discuss ideas with other teachers across the state using the discussion tab above. Feel free to submit feedback with suggestions to improve the curriculum and ideas for enhancements using the feedback form above. You can also offer suggestions for how to improve the Elections 101 site to make it more applicable or user friendly.

How It Works

The Elections 101 curriculum is easy to use and implement in the classroom. It is a ten-day curriculum with each lesson plan having three different options to accommodate the amount of instruction time teachers have to present the material and for their students to complete the activities.

Choose the option that suits your classroom. The best thing about the Elections 101 curriculum is that it is completely customizable. Feel free to modify lesson plans to better align with your unique teaching style and your students’ needs. Keep in mind that the curriculum is designed to encourage participation and engagement for students, parents, and educators. Discuss your lesson plans and ideas with your fellow teachers, share your students’ work, and promote your classroom’s involvement on social media.

90
Minute Curriculum
60
Minute Curriculum
30
Minute Curriculum

As you know, education is ongoing and constantly evolving. Let us know what you think about the Elections 101 website as well as the curriculum and how you plan to implement it in your classroom by submitting feedback using the form above. You can also share ideas and experiences with your peers in the discussion forum.

WHY Elections 101

The Elections 101 curriculum is unique in that it was created by Iowa teachers for Iowa teachers. Each lesson plan has been crafted to appeal to how students learn today, incorporating social media enhancements. Furthermore, Elections 101 is pioneering a social media platform that has not been developed yet, allowing students, universities, and other civic groups to add their own social media enhancements. Finally, the curriculum eliminates geographical barriers by allowing teachers to see what other educators are doing in their classroom.

Student Benefits

Ease of use
Students will have the ability to upload their homework to the website and social media outlets.
Engagement
The curriculum encourages students to apply what they learn beyond the classroom by helping them become active participants in the community through a relatable medium they use every day.
Applicability
Students will learn life skills such as how to formulate an argument and engage in healthy, constructive debates.
Relevance
Through social media enhancements, students have the opportunity to become more invested in civic responsibilities such as learning about political candidates, attending the Iowa Caucus, and registering to vote.
Versatility
The curriculum and enhancements can be matched to student behavior and interests and appeal not only to students, but to parents and community members as well. Additionally, other civic groups can modify the curriculum to suit their needs while the social media enhancements initiate discussion and engagement within and beyond Iowa’s borders.

Teacher Benefits

Fulfillment
Elections 101 fulfills the Iowa Core requirement for social studies in just 10 days.
Choice
Choose 90, 60, or 30 minute lesson plans.
Flexibility
Supplement what you already teach. Use as much or as little of the material as you want.
Convenience
Lesson plans are already completed and are tied to Iowa Core with clear learning objectives and downloadable lesson components.
Support
Submit enhancement ideas for other teachers to use or adapt and share your experiences with peers.
Interaction
Connect with students by utilizing the tools they use every day, specifically social media, to enhance learning.

Elections 101 Curriculum Overview

Click on each day below for lesson materials, suggested activities, and homework assignments.
To download the entire ten-day curriculum

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Day 01 History and Iowa’s First in the Nation Status

Main Objective

Students will be able to explain how Iowa became the first in the nation for the caucuses/primaries. Students will debate/defend why or why not Iowa should maintain its “first in the nation” status.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • be able to define a caucus.
  • utilize speaking and debate skills.
  • analyze news articles as evidence.
  • evaluate their own reasons why/why not Iowa should maintain its “first in the nation” status.

Meets Core Standards

Day 02 Political Parties

Main Objective

Students will be able to explain the role of political parties in selecting candidates for office, engaging voters, and organizing their respective caucus.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • identify and explain the differences between liberal and conservative ideology.
  • evaluate their own political ideology and apply it towards matching their beliefs with a political party and presidential candidate.

Meets Core Standards

Day 03 The Media

Main Objective

Students will be able to explain the role of the media in reporting on elections.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • explain how the media’s use of agenda setting and agenda cutting influences the outcome of the elections.
  • evaluate the bias presented by some media outlets.

Meets Core Standards

Day 04 Interest Groups

Main Objective

Students will be able to explain the role of interest groups in the electoral process.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • be able to research and analyze an interest group to determine its effectiveness.

Meets Core Standards

Day 05 Democrat & Republican / Caucus vs. Primary

Main Objective

Students will be able to describe the similarities and differences between Democrat and Republican caucuses in order to prepare for the mock caucus, and they will be able to articulate the strengths and weaknesses of caucuses and primaries.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • be able to review and apply the definition of a caucus.
  • continue to hone speaking and debate skills.
  • analyze news articles as evidence.
  • evaluate which system works the best to nominate a candidate for president: primaries or caucuses?

Meets Core Standards

Day 06 Mock Caucus Simulation

Main Objective

Students will be able to describe how the caucus process works to choose the presidential nominee for both the Republican and Democratic Party.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • identify the steps in the caucus process.
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the caucus process.

Meets Core Standards

Day 07 The Electoral College

Main Objective

Students will analyze the processes involved and the reasons we use the electoral college system of presidential selection and the strategy required for a successful victory.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • be able to define the role of an elector and how electors are chosen.
  • understand the Framer’s original plans, reasoning for the plan, and changes that have been made over time.
  • debate pros and cons of the electoral college system and various alternative plans proposed for electing the president.
  • analyze historical and current election information in various forms as evidence in the creation of their victory campaign strategy.

Meets Core Standards

Day 08 Campaign Finance

Main Objective

Students will develop a basic understanding of how candidates raise funds, what campaign contributions are spent on, the history of campaign finance reform, and the reasons for and against campaign reform.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • be able to define campaign finance.
  • develop an understanding for campaign donations.
  • identify what candidates use their donations for.
  • analyze how campaign finance laws have changed over time.
  • debate if political contributions give undue influence to donors.
  • identify if campaign contribution limits violates free speech.

Meets Core Standards

Day 09 Third Parties & Political Behaviors

Main Objective

Students will define 3rd parties and identify the obstacles and effects of 3rd parties in an election.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • evaluate the role of voting behavior in planning a successful campaign for elected office.

Meets Core Standards

Day 10 Campaign Strategy

Main Objective

Students will create a general election campaign strategy synthesizing information from Day 7 (electoral college), Day 8 (campaign finance) and Day 9 (voting behavior) to be presented in class for assessment purposes. This activity assesses all standards previously mentioned in the lesson plans for days 7, 8, & 9.

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Additional Objectives

Students will:
  • be able to define the role of an elector and how electors are chosen.
  • understand the Framer’s original plans, reasoning for the plan, and changes that have been made over time.
  • debate pros and cons of the electoral college system and various alternative plans proposed for electing the president.
  • analyze historical and current election information in various forms as evidence in the creation of their victory campaign strategy.

Meets Core Standards

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