Extended Controversial Issue Discussion Lesson Plan Should the Electoral College by abolished?

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Extended Controversial Issue Discussion Lesson Plan
Should the Electoral College by abolished?
Socratic Seminar

The goal of this Socratic Seminar is to gain a deeper understanding of the values, issues, and ideas in the text, and to actively listen, evaluate, and build on each other’s comments.” (Course Reader p.409)

Note: This Socratic seminar should be taught to students who already have a BASIC understanding of our government
Outline of unit (documents attached, but NOT IN ORDER, SORRY)
Day one: Article from this year with questions: Homework: Electoral College Graphing activity (need graph paper)
Days Two-Three: Students annotate the article and reflect (have annotating page and reflection page)

Article is EXCERPTED from one by by William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director FEC National Clearinghouse on Election Administration, and can be found at: http://uselectionatlas.org/INFORMATION/INFORMATION/electcollege_procon.php

Day Four: Students prepare arguments for Socratic Seminar (students fill out preparation page)
Day Five: Socratic Seminar is held, students reflect after seminar (students can use prep page, article, and Socratic seminar rules, use REFLECTION page after seminar)
Day Six: Students brainstorm and write letter to the editor answering the essential question (brainstorm page attached, along with rubric)
Discussion outline:

Explain the rules of the Socratic Seminar to the students prior to class. Briefly cover them again before

beginning the seminar. The rules are at the back of this attachment.

Allow students a few minutes (2‐4) to review their ticket and the text to refresh their memories on the

topic and then ask the first discussion question. Why should we or shouldn’t we abolish the Electoral

College? Give students time to think about their response to the question and then ask the question

aloud a second time to begin the discussion. Don’t forget to remind the students of the rules and feel

free to use refocusing questions found on the question sheet attached to this lesson. Only refocus the

discussion if things are repeating themselves over and over or students are bogging down. Remember,

there is no single correct answer to any of the questions asked. The goal of this exercise is to increase

student understanding through class discussion. When there are only a few minuets left try to wrap up

the current topic being discussed. After the topic is wrapped up ask if anyone has not spoken (you

should already know who these people are). Ask if they would like to add anything to the discussion

giving them a chance to think and talk. Finally ask if anyone has any final thoughts on the text they

would like to share that was not previously discussed.

Name______________________________________ #_________ Period____________
Electoral College activity

60 points

Directions: Read the following passage and answer the questions below
On Tuesday, November 6th, the Presidential election will be held throughout the United States. Unbeknownst to many Americans, the total number of votes each candidate gets (called the POPULAR VOTE) will not determine the winner. Instead, the winner will be determined by a group of people that make up something called the Electoral College.
The Electoral College was created to make the Presidential Election an indirect election and is a part of the Constitution, Article II. Each State is allocated (given) a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (always 2) plus the number of its U.S. Representatives (which depends of the population of the state). There are a total of 538 Electoral College members. In order to win the election, a candidate must receive one more than HALF of the total Electoral College members. Today, this means a candidate must receive at least 270 Electoral College votes in order to be President of the United States.
In 48 of the 50 states (Nebraska and Maine are the exceptions), the Electoral College votes are winner-take-all, meaning the candidate that receives the most votes in a given state receives ALL of that states Electoral College votes. For example, if in Nevada Mitt Romney receives 1,000,000 votes and Barack Obama receives 999,999 all six of Nevada’s Electoral College votes would go Romney. These leads candidates to focus more on closely contested states (called SWING STATES), while virtually ignoring states where one candidate has a large lead (even if that state has a lot of Electoral College Votes). In this system, a candidate can actually receive more POPULAR votes than his or her opponent and actually LOSE the election. While most times, this does not happen, it has occurred four times in history, most recently in 2000 when Al Gore had more Popular votes than George W. Bush yet finished 2nd because George Bush had more Electoral College votes.
If no candidate receives 270 Electoral College votes, the House of Representatives choose the President out of the three candidates with the most Electoral College Votes. Each state is given ONE vote in this scenario.

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