Democracy Central: A Teacher's Guide to California's Statewide Elections (2008)

Full Volume (PDF)

Introduction (PDF)

I. Democracy

What Is A Democracy? (PDF)
What the students do: Read about the role of citizens and the function of elections in a democratic society and conduct an interview about voting.
Road to Democracy (PDF)
What the students do: Small groups determine the most important elements of democracy and create a graphic representation of those they think are thriving and those they think are challenges in our country.
Proposals for a More Democratic Country (PDF)
What the students do: Small groups analyze hypothetical proposals for making America more democratic and role-play a presidential commission evaluating the electoral college system.

II. The Voters

Voting Rights in America: Past and Present (PDF)
What the students do: Read about the history of voting rights and role-play a committee deciding to support or oppose modern voting restrictions.
Get the Youth Vote! (PDF)
What the students do: Take the roles of hypothetical candidates and their staff members and create a strategy to attract young voters. Students will use recent research findings to guide their work.
Voter Participation: Who's Voting (PDF)
What the students do: Examine census data from the 2008 election and evaluate strategies for increasing voter turnout. Create a public service announcement to encourage civic participation.

III. Candidates, Parties, and Ballot Measures

How to Judge a Candidate (PDF)
What the students do: Use a framework to learn about and evaluate candidates.
Parties, Planks, and Platforms (PDF)
What the students do: Read about the role of political parties and role-play a committee drafting a party's platform.
Deliberating in a Democracy (PDF)
What the students do: Explore at least one current ballot measure and participate in a structured discussion to analyze the proposed measure and reach their own conclusions.

IV. Ways to Participate

And I Quote... (PDF)
What students do: Select quotes about civic participation they find meaningful and create a "public service announcement" on the importance of civic participation.
Civic Participation and Responsibility (PDF)
What the students do: Read about and discuss responsible citizenship and prioritize civic participation activities.
Get Involved! (PDF)
What the students do: Create a plan of action for participating in an election.

V. The Media

Campaign Advertising (PDF)
What the students do: Learn about and find examples of different advertising strategies used in political ads and then create their own political ad for the candidate or ballot measure of their choosing.
How to Watch a Debate (PDF)
What the students do: Prepare for and watch a political debate. Use a variety of criteria to "rate the debate" and participate in follow-up discussion and activities.
Press Conference (PDF)
What the students do: Take the roles of candidates and their staff members or reporters for different media outlets and conduct a simulated press conference. Members of the media will endorse a candidate; candidates and staff members will create their last ad before the hypothetical election.

VI. Getting Informed (PDF)

  • What the students do: Research, participate in "scavenger hunts," and create products using information they have found to educate others about topics related to voting and elections.

VII. Links to Additional Resources (PDF)

  • Many organizations, both statewide and national, have excellent lessons and special activities related to elections that support high quality civic education. We have included all the organizations that contributed lessons to this collection and more.

VIII. Standards (PDF)

  • The lessons address the following California History-Social Science content standards for the 11th and 12th grades.