Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To: Learning about Republicans and Democrats

Political Parties Student Handout
In preparation for the 2016 Election in November I thought I would devote a few blog posts to the upcoming fall election.

This is an assignment I have had students complete in the past. In non-election years I typically have students complete this during our 1930's Unit as a way to introduce the concepts of Conservative, Liberal, and New Deal Democrats. With this year being an election year I will probably have students complete this prior to the fall election.

The primary goal of this lesson is to introduce students to the two major political parties and to help students draw connections to where they see themselves fitting in the political process. The 2016 Election is definitely "unique."  I will be curious how this lesson goes this year.

Video Introduction:

I typically have my students watch this BrainPop Video Political Parties as an introduction to get a general understanding of the two major US Political Parties. Students take notes on some of the general basics for each party focusing on programs they typically support, how the parties view taxation, and some famous Presidents for each party.  After a brief class discussion students than move onto taking a Political Party Quiz.

Political Party Quiz: 

The Pew Research Center has a wonderful Political Typology Quiz that uses users responses to gauge where you fit on the Political Spectrum based on how you respond to a series of questions. I emphasize to students to answer as honestly as they possibly can. There are typically a few questions on the survey I have to explain to the students due to student limited understanding on certain issues.

The results of the survey will not spit out "You Are A Republican" or "You Are A Democrat" but instead will place students on a continuum  somewhere between Very Liberal and Very Conservative. I also emphasize that this does not define students into a particular political pary, but gives them a general understanding (based on how they answered questions on the quiz) of which of the two main political parties they seem to agree with more.

I also think it is important to emphasize to students that they don't have to belong to either Republican or Democratic Parties but have a lot of other choices as well.

For a closure on this assignment I have students write a reflective paragraph on what they have learned from this assignment as well if they agree or disagree with the Typology Quiz findings. 

Other Resources and Enrichment Ideas:

To learn more about the Political Party landscape here are some other web resources worth looking at.

Information Is Beautiful: Left v. Right  is an interesting infographic that explores the differences between Left v. Right. It might be fun for students to create their own Infographic of Liberal v. Conservative based on what they have learned in this lesson with some additional research they would have to conduct. 

9 Lesser Known Political Parties via looks at the names of various other political parties that have existed in the US. This might be fun for students to explore and think of if they were creating their own political party what would their major platform on the issues be.

Hip Hugh's Political Ideology Play List: Looks at the following topics: Socialist, Conservative,  Liberal,  Libertarian, Anarchist, and is the US Oligarchy. This would be a great resource for student's wanting to learn more on these topics.

Crash Course Government also has some great videos on Government (definitely worthy to check out). Here are some of their videos that focus primarily on Political Parties and Party Ideology.

Political Ideology: Crash Course Government and Politics #35

Political Campaigns: Crash Course Government and Politics #39

Political Parties: Crash Course Government and Politics #40

Party Systems: Crash Course Government and Politics #41

***New As Of 7/15/16***
Party Crashers: A Political  History with LEGOs is a fun video from that traces the history of the Political Parties (As told by animated LEGOs).

Do you have any great lessons or resources you use to help students learn more about politics and political parties?  I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

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