Thursday, August 28, 2008

Election Resources for Students

Looking for some good Web sites for students that explore the ins and outs of politics and this year's presidential election?

Scholastic's Election 2008 includes a profile of each party candidate, campaign news, an election blog (posts from the national conventions, etc.) written specifically for kids, election games and a presidential poll for students. The site's Explore the Election section also includes everything you need to know about the Electoral College, campaigning, the candidates views on specific issues, the various political parties (not just Democrat vs. Republican), tips from journalists if you're a kid reporting on the elections and information on how government works. The site includes lesson plans and activities for use in the classroom and parents will appreciate the special Parent Guide to the 2008 Presidential Elections.

High school students can compare the candidates' positions on 25 issues on the non-partisan VoteGopher site. Issues covered include Iraq, poverty, government reform, abortion and stem cell research and more. VoteGopher, which was founded in 2007 by a Harvard sophomore, provides background on the issues, clearly lays out each candidates' position and even allows you to vote on your preference of candidate for that specific issue.

America.gov, from the U.S. Department of State also has an online Guide to the 2008 Election that includes a delegate diary, the U.S. electoral system, a quick look of candidate's views on key issues such as Iraq, energy and climate change and immigration and a close-up view of state in local issues in seven (7) districts, including Virginia's 2nd district.

The Democracy Project, from PBS, provides a kids' tour of government, "Be the President for a Day," and a discussion of the importance of voting.

TIME for Kids' Election Connection 2008, geared at younger elementary students includes campaign games, an "electionary" of important words in this year's election, and a government guide that you can use to contact your representatives in Washington, D.C.

Want to expand the discussion beyond just this year's election? Check out Presidents: The Secret History, from PBS Kids. Here you can find out some presidential facts that are unfamiliar to most people. For example, did you know that Harry Truman had read all 2,000 books in his public library by the time he graduated from high school?

Another great site on government in general, broken down by grade level, is Ben's Guide to U.S. Government from the U.S. Government Printing Office. This will save you time from tracking down the various government agency Web sites that explain how it all works.

The Online NewsHour's EXTRA election site, geared at teachers to use in the classroom, includes news updates, student-written content, lesson plans and more.

Finally, the Washington Post's Campaign 2008 site provides the older student with in-depth candidate profiles and related topics, including campaign finance, presidential endorsements, a Choose Your Candidate Quiz and an Electoral College Predication Map, which allows you to save/share your picks as well as see past election results.