Resources to Engage Students in Political Debate

Pardon our faux pas as we discuss the topics covered in the primary elections.

The polls are closed in New Hampshire and Iowa and candidates are busy preparing for tomorrow's South Carolina Republican Primary and Nevada Democratic Caucus. Nearly everyone in the country is gearing up for another long election season. 

Citizens expect voters in these early primary states to make well-informed decisions and back the best contenders for each party because of the potential impact on subsequent voting decisions. Well-informed decision-making is an important part of the democratic process and a skill that students need to learn to become responsible citizens. Luckily, we’ve created a guide to help you bring the elections right to your classroom.

As the results of the primary elections roll in, engage your students in critical thinking and argumentation about important national issues using the CERCA Framework and our close reading and argumentative writing lessons. After completing these lessons, ask students to follow these debate guidelines: consider the key question, provide two reasons with at least one piece of evidence for each reason to support your claim, and work with a partner to eliminate duplicates and refine wording. Discuss topics in education, immigration, economy, health care, foreign policy, the environment, and more!

PLUS: Download our debate game handout and hold your own caucus with students.

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Free Close Reading Lessons

Differentiated Lesson Sets for Grades 4-12

  • The Electoral College Should we continue to use the Electoral College as part of the process of electing a President in the United States? (CCSS.CCRA.R.4; CCSS.RH.4; CCSS.W.1; CCSS.WHST.2)
  • School Policy How can we improve student learning? (CCSS.RI.2; CCSS.W.1)
  • Voting Should the United States consider modifying the way citizens elect their leaders?  (CCSS.CCRA.R.1; CCSS.RH.1; CCSS.W.2; CCSS.WHST.1)
  • Social Responsibility How do individuals stand up and take responsibility for changing their societies? (CCSS.RI.9; CCSS.W.1)
  • Supreme Court Decisions: Free Speech What evidence and reasoning has the Supreme Court used to protect or deny an individual’s right to free speech?  (CCSS.RI.8; CCSS.W.1)
  • Technology and the Fourth Amendment How does the 4th Amendment protect our rights even as technology changes?  (CCSS.CCRA.R.1; CCSS.RH.1; CCSS.W.1; CCSS.WHST.1)

Introductions to Key Skills & Concepts