How to Teach Texas Students About Voting and Elections
If you are a high school teacher who teaches juniors and seniors, you may want to consider spending extra time educating your students about voting rights and elections. Juniors and seniors will soon be old enough to vote so high school is the best place to teach them their rights and emphasize the importance of voting. Plus, with the presidential election in full swing, it’s a great time to discuss voting and the electoral process.
There are many valuable resources available online for teachers who are looking for creative and fun ways to teach their students about voting and elections. The following is a brief overview of the best free resources available for high school students. It is important to note that the sources listed provide classroom materials for all grade levels, but the focus of this overview is on resources prepared for high school students.
Texas Bar Law-Related Education Programs
The Law-Related Education (LRE) Department of the State Bar is dedicated to the advancement of law related and civic education in the state. The LRE department provides educators with curriculum covering a wide range of law-related subjects such as the U.S. Constitution, history, politics, and civil rights. There are lesson plans for every grade level, all of which can be downloaded for free. For high school students, there are three lesson plans which deal with voting and elections:
May I Vote?
May I Vote? is a fun classroom exercise which can be used to teach students about the history of voting rights and current voter qualifications. The students will be asked to form a human timeline showing how voting rights have evolved. They will then be asked to answer a series of thought-provoking questions about current voter requirements which will be sure to stir up an interesting classroom debate about the issue.
Looping Through the Primary Season
Looping Through the Primary Season is a lesson plan which helps students understand and review the role and development of the primaries in the selection of presidential candidates. The students will also evaluate the effectiveness of the primary system.
Does My Vote Count?
Does My Vote Count? is a class exercise which helps students understand the importance of voter participation. The students will first be asked to read a scenario involving a fictional city council election then answer questions about elections and voting.
The Texas Young Lawyers’ Association offers many resources which help educators teach their students about various topics pertaining to the law, including voting at both the state and national level. There are programs and classroom materials for all grade levels (elementary school, middle school, and high school), all of which can be accessed through the TYLA website free of charge.
The high school student curricula provided by TYLA covers a wide range of legal subjects such as 4th amendment search and seizure rights, reporting a crime, the importance of jury duty, online dangers, and new environmental laws, to name a few. The curriculum program dealing with voting and elections is called VoTexas.
The VoTexas program consists of a historical video and a supplemental curriculum package which is to be used in conjunction with the video. The historical video, entitled “Vote America! Honor the Fight, Exercise our Right”, chronicles the struggles of the civil rights era, passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 15th, 19th, and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The supplemental curriculum package covers the following topics: history of the right to vote, history of voter registration, candidate research, mock debate, political parties and primaries, and mock elections. The video and curriculum are freely accessible online. For more information about this program, or to arrange a TYLA-sponsored presentation at your school, please contact TYLA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project V.O.T.E. is a non-partisan voter education program created by the Texas Secretary of State. Its stated purpose is to “help students become knowledgeable, responsible voters at an early age”. The statewide program teaches students about the electoral and legislative process. There are lesson plans for every grade level, all of which can be downloaded for free on the Project Vote website.
VOTE411 is a one-stop-shop for election related information. It provides nonpartisan general and state-specific information aspects of the election process.
- Project Vote Smart - The Voter's Self Defense System
Provides the most relevant, unbiased information on over 40,000 candidates and officials nationwide.
- Rock the Vote
Register to vote, find your polling place, and sign up to volunteer. It's time to make history. It's time to Rock the Vote.
Law and Government Links for Students
- Official Kids' Portal for the U.S. Government
The Official Kids' Site of the U.S. Government.
- White House 101 | The White House
Fun facts about the White House for kids of all ages.
- Texas Kids' House
Texas House of Representatives website where students and teachers can learn about Texas Government in a fun and interactive way.
- Texas Senate Kids
The Texas Senate for Kids.