In the Classroom: Discussing the Election

Our faculty take advantage of an election year to help students make connections with the world around them. While older students may closely follow current events and political issues, it is also a great opportunity for all students to learn about civil discourse, history, and age-appropriate real-world themes related to the election. 
 
"My PreK/K co-teacher, Hannah, read a story and we started a conversation about voting. Students in my cohort started brainstorming and defining the word 'vote,' and we got them familiar with some vocabulary words such as president, White House, election, voting, and informed decision. We also started talking about what it takes to be president and their job and responsibilities, which we will discuss again after reading more books. We will also read a story about who could and could not vote in the past and complete an activity so students can vote for things in the classroom." - Ayan Osman, PreKindergarten/Kindergarten Co-Teacher

"In third grade, we've discussed and addressed the debates generally by using the sign-in question, 'What is a debate?' the morning after the first debate. We didn't talk specifically about political parties but tied it into why we work on taking turns, backing up our ideas, and listening to one another." - Lizz Albany, Grade 3 Co-Teacher

"There have already been some organic conversations among students, which, of course, we encourage. Next week we’ll incorporate the topic of democracy into our studies of Ancient Greece and we'll do a voting simulation. Students will get to vote on the next class prize, although only some of them will actually cast a ballot. In our debrief, we'll talk about how only male citizens in Ancient Greece got to vote. Only certain voices were heard, leaving others disenfranchised. We'll relate this back to what's happening in the country today." - Laura Mutch and Sandra Annisette, Grade 4 Co-Teachers

"We started the book, We The People: The United States Constitution Explored and Explained by Aura Lewis and Evan Sargent. We are also planning to watch 'Whose Vote Counts, Explained' on Netflix (PG) and listen to a podcast for kids called, 'Whose Vote Counts by Now This.'" - Elena Pereira, Grade 5 Co-Teacher

"In sixth grade, we have been discussing the election quite a bit. Recently we watched the first episode of a Netflix series called 'Whose Vote Counts, Explained,' and the discussed, asked, and answered questions. 

In this episode we watched, actor Leonardo DiCaprio narrates, and the focus is on voter suppression and how the system seems to be weighted and rigged to give some groups less powers than others. One student wrote in their reflection, 'I feel really bad for those millions of former felons who were unlawfully denied the right to vote.' Another wrote, 'This [film] helped me understand the difference between voting as a privilege versus a right.' A third student wrote, 'I learned that Black and Latino citizens have to wait 45% longer to vote than white people.' The sixth graders are asking deep and thoughtful questions, showing their passion for equity and equal human rights, and are seeking answers and justice for minorities and marginalized groups." - Sarah Thomas, Grade 6 Co-Teacher

"We want students to honor the fact that people think differently and to respect that in civil discourse. We teach them to start a conversation in a positive way and to avoid using "but,' because it can have a contradictory tone. Instead of 'I disagree with you,' students can say, 'I understand your point and I was looking at it this way...' or 'I respectively disagree with the idea that....' We always have some ideas in common, so it is important to separate out the idea and not negate the person."  - Leigh Hutchinson, Grades 7/8 English Teacher  

"We want to inspire students to civic participation through a nuanced comprehension of the history of the electoral process, locally and nationally, as well as encourage daily inquiry into the current news cycle. They not only learn how to form an argument but also how to comprehend the other side’s viewpoint, working towards respecting other’s views as well as the importance of discourse. This fall, students have presented both sides of the Massachusetts ballot questions, examined arguments for and against the electoral college, and recorded podcasts predicting, through lengthy research, how a battleground state of the 2020 election will vote." - Tessa Steinert-Evoy, Grades 7/8 Social Studies Teacher 
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Charles River School is a PreKindergarten through Grade 8 independent school that honors the pursuit of academic excellence and the joy of childhood. We nurture each child by igniting curiosity, encouraging creativity, and cultivating intellectual engagement. Our graduates know themselves, understand others, and shape the future of our diverse world with confidence and compassion.

Charles River School admits students of any race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational or admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.