1. Begin class by facilitating a short discussion about the use of social media using several questions such as:
- How many of you regularly use some form of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc?
- What makes using these sites fun and interesting?
- What are your feelings about candidates using social media as a means of advertising and sharing their qualifications and ideas with voters? Why?
2. Distribute the Viewing Guide, explain how to complete it and then watch the PBS NewsHour Extra clip entitled “Town Hall Highlights Social Media’s Uses as a Political Tool”
3. As a class, discuss the video using comments and ideas students recorded on the Viewing Guide to determine how the students (and future voters) feel about the importance of social media in the election process.
4. Access several candidate websites (national, state, local) and look at each home page to see how the candidates encourage people to interact with the campaign using social media.
5. Facilitate a discussion about the 2012 elections and the role social media will play in them using questions such as:
- Would you use social media as a means for learning about and following your favorite candidates rather than traditional television advertisements or programming? Why?
- If a candidate did not use social media, but opted instead for more old-fashioned campaign techniques, how would that effect your opinion of the candidate?
- Do you think the effective use of social media will give some candidates an advantage with specific groups of voters? Who and why?
6. As a closing activity, work as a class to view the websites of two selected candidates from a federal, state or local election. Distribute 2 index cards to each student. View the two candidate’s most recent Twitter or Facebook posts. Print a page view of each candidate’s posts. Have each student write an individual response to the posts that were viewed for each candidate. Remind them that their ideas will be shared with the group.
NOTE: Use this opportunity to reiterate the point made in the video clip about the permanence of posts made to social media sites. Remind students about the importance of appropriate posts and discuss the use of posts as a means of sharing opinions and ideas in a way that promotes democratic discourse.
7. On a bulletin board or wall within the classroom, display the printed page view of each candidate’s posts. Call students up individually to share their responses to each post by reading them and then attaching them to the wall or bulletin board. If time allows, encourage students to discuss varying points of view presented in their responses to the candidates.
1. Maintain the candidate bulletin board, focusing on hot topics and posts from each candidate by continuing to track Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. postings from the candidates and allowing students to share their ideas about the postings.
2. Learn more about the types and numbers of potential voters who use social media sites by reading articles such as
3. Search YouTube at http://www.youtube.com using the name of a specific candidate and view videos about that candidate. Some will be created by the campaign, some by campaign supporters and others by those who do not like the candidate. Compare the comments and number of hits generated by each and discuss which types of videos seem to generate the most interest among YouTube users. Explore the reasons why these videos are or are not effective in the candidate’s quest to be elected.