The Electoral College: an interactive experiment

Here’s an experiment in collaborative learning — let’s see how many students from around the country we can get to add their questions about how the Electoral College works to this shared Google Doc about the Electoral College.

One student posed three questions already (thanks, Joshua!) and I did my best to answer those questions in the document.

Please visit the document and let’s get interactive!

To give students a starting point, I made a 10-minute video that introduces the Electoral College. The video shows how to use the shared Google Doc.  If you have not used a shared Google Doc before, it’s easy and intuitive — you click the link and go into the document and you can edit it like any word document.

** Please ask your students only to ADD to the document and not to delete questions that other people write!  Also, let’s keep the tone of the questions civil.

Also, here’s a solid 5-minute video I just found that also does a nice job explaining the Electoral College in general terms.

I’ve also come across some neat videos that show how to use a great tool called 270-to-win (so named because a candidate for president needs a majority, or 270, of the 538 available electoral votes to be elected president). Here’s an example from a teacher named Mr. Hunt that shows the historical data available using 270-to-win.

Here’s another solid 6-minute video by someone who goes by the handle “POGOBAT.” Despite his unusual name, he makes a solid analysis of how Mitt Romney needs to win the “rust belt” states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In this follow-up video, POGOBAT explores the possibility of a 269-269 tie in the electoral college. The last three seconds of this second video includes an unfortunate expletive, but other than that it’s a solid video and could be helpful as students learn to think in electoral college terms.

Since we’re on the election, here’s a good column by E.J. Dionne os the Washington Post, who asks: Can this election settle anything?  He thinks about what happens after the election and how the president — be it Obama or Romney — might work with the House and the Senate.

Finally, with the first of the debates coming up this Wednesday night, here’s a column by George Will that raises some good points.  The questions he comes up with won’t likely be asked in exactly this way, but they’re good discussion springboards.

Process note: I made this video and the Shared Google Document in part because I’m helping to teach a month-long unit about the 2012 Election for the 5th grade of a public school in Durham.  For that unit, we’re using a different set of Google Docs, so if you follow the link above you won’t see much 🙂

I’m also teaching a class called The World in Which We Live, which is more about global events, but several students in that class seemed interested in learning about the election.

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About Steve Goldberg

I teach U.S. History at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning.
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