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This electoral college lesson focuses on representation in democracies


Social Studies  


7, 8  


Title – U.S. Representation /Electoral College
By – Kevin Flynn
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Secondary Subjects – Math, Language Arts
Grade Level – 7-8

Group Participants:
8th Grade M/F

2 lessons: 2 Hours, with 3 page written/oral report due in three weeks.


  • Students will understand how the U.S. electoral system works regarding U.S. Presidential elections.
  • Students will understand the difference between proportional representation found in most western democracies, and the winner-take-all representation in the U.S.

Illinois Learning Standards:

      14.C.3 Compare historical issues involving rights, roles and status of individuals in relation to municipalities, states and the nation


    14.D.3 Describe roles and influences of individuals, groups and media in shaping current Illinois and United States public policy (e.g., general public opinion, special interest groups, formal parties, media).

Development/Instructional Procedures:


  • Students will watch a 20-minute video on the 2000 election or more recent election.
  • Teacher will ask students about the difference between the Electoral College and the popular vote, and if they think its fair.
  • Teacher will inform the students how Maine and Nebraska divide their electoral votes by districts.
  • Teacher will discuss with students who they think has the fairest democracy in the world.
  • Teacher will explain how the votes don’t count for a Democrat voting for Kerry in Texas, or a Republican voting for Bush in Illinois in 2004.
  • Teacher will offer examples of how other western democracies use proportional representation, ensuring that more people’s voices (votes) are heard.
  • Teacher will assign a three-page research paper on one of a dozen topics, or a pre-approved topic the student chooses on the subject of representation in democracies.


  • Students will share their research papers with the entire class (2-3 minutes each)
  • Teacher will tie together the lesson with a call to activism.

Students will have a better understanding of how we choose our President here in the U.S., and will have information to help them become activists in favor of proportional representation.

There will be a three-page paper/oral report due in three weeks on one of a dozen given topics, or on a teacher approved topic. Papers will be shared with the whole class in a brief oral report, and turned in for grading.

Video, Paper, pens, library or internet resources.

Extension/Follow up:
Students can monitor and keep track of the Electoral race and determine which states are the most relevant in determining our next president in this election cycle.

Can use math when determining electoral votes and representation statistics and percentages. History and Culture and Language Arts are used when doing research on other democracies, as well as U.S. history, and writing and reporting on a paper.

Special Education students will be assisted on an individual basis as necessary. Internet and library assistance given to SPED students and other disabled students.

E-Mail Kevin Flynn !

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